'Golden Calf (pt.1)'

Thursday Reflection

6th August 2020

'oh! what a stubborn, hard-headed people!'

"I saw a woman today who finally became hard as wood all over."
French physician Guy Patin wrote these words in 1692,
the first clinical description of fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva or FOP.

He unknowingly introduced the world to a cryptic disease that slowly,
irreversibly turns its victims into a mass of solid bone.
As tragic as this disease is,
Scripture describes one even worse.
The calcification, not of the bones, but of the will.

I look at this people -
oh! what a stubborn, hard-headed people!
   Exodus 32:9

God spoke these words to Moses on Mount Sinai.
The disloyalty of the calf-worshiping Hebrews stunned God.
He had given them a the 'best seat' at his Exodus extravaganza.
They saw water transform into blood,
high noon change to a midnight sky,
the Red Sea turn into a red carpet,
and the Egyptian army become fish bait.

God gave manna with the morning dew,
quail with the evening sun.
He earned their trust.
The former slaves had witnessed a millennium of miracles in a matter of days.
And yet, when God called Moses to a summit meeting,
the people panicked like headless chickens.

They rallied around Aaron and said,

'Do something. Make gods for us who will lead us.
That Moses, the man who got us out of Egypt -
who knows what's happened to him?' -
   Exodus 32:1

They crafted a metal cow and talked to it.
God, shocked at the calf-praising service, commanded Moses

Go! Get down there!
They've turned away from the way I commanded them...
Oh! what a stubborn, hard-headed people! -
   Exodus 32:7-9

Our hearts harden in an unhealthy reaction to fear.
Note: the presence of fear in the Hebrews didn't bother God;
their response to it did.
Nothing persuaded the people to trust him.
Plagues didn't.
Liberation from slavery didn't.
God shed light on their path and dropped food in their laps,
and still they didn't believe him.
Nothing penetrated their hearts.
They were flinty. Stiff.
Mount Everest is more pliable, an anvil more tender.
The people were as responsive as the gold statue they worshiped.

More than three thousand years removed,
we understand God's frustration.
Turn to a statue for help?
How stupid.
Face your fears by facing a cow?
Udderly foolish!

We opt for more sophisticated therapies:
food binges leading to obesity
or budget-busting shopping sprees.
We bow before a whiskey bottle
or lose ourselves in an eighty-hour workweek.
Progress? Hardly.

We still face fears without facing God.

He sends Exodus-level demonstrations of power:
sunsets, starry nights, immeasurable oceans.
He solves Red Sea-calibre problems
and air-drops blessings like morning manna.
But let one crisis surface, let Moses disappear for a few hours,
and we tornado into chaos.
Rather than turn to God, we turn from him, hardening our hearts.

The result? Cow-worshiping folly.

According to heaven's medical diagnosis:

Hardhearted people are hopelessly confused.
    - Ephesians 4:17-19

Is this as convicting to you as it is to me?
If so, join me today in praying for forgiveness and softheartedness.

Let's ask the One who loves us for help

'While the cat is away....'