Silly Church: Graven Images, Mocking God, and Rising Up to Play
The cathartic spirit of the age is alive and well within the church. When one meditates on Exodus 32, the words of Solomon ring true, “There is nothing new under the sun (Eccl 1:9).” As it was with ethnic Israel, so it is with spiritual Israel.
The delay of the deliverer, Moses, promoted the spirit of impatience (Ex 32:1). Where is the promise of His coming (2 Pet 3:4a), queries the mocker, following his own lusts. Peter agrees with Solomon, “all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation (2 Pet 3:4b).”
While the church waits for the return of Jesus Christ to judge the living and the dead (Acts 10:42; 2 Tim 4:1; 1 Pet 4:5), her tendency is toward idolatry, in her idleness, “Come, make us a god…” is the prevailing spirit of the people (Ex 32:1). Using the ways and means of the world (Ex 32:2–3), spineless pastors give the people what they want (Ex 32:4), just as Aaron fashioned the molten calf, and declared, “This is your god!” The frenzy of familiarity furthered their foolishness, for they, “rose up to play (Ex 32:6c).”
Christians must not be impatient, nor should we become too familiar with the King of Glory (Ps 24). An irreverent spirit is the spirit of the age, “Jesus is my buddy.”
God’s assessment of the Israel of God, the church (Gal 6:16), in our age could hardly be different than, “they have corrupted themselves (Ex 32:7c). The playful spirit of the age only mocks God. The mirth of the church in service and worship misrepresents our Holy God (Ex 32:8). Nothing is sacred to the juvenile, and God’s Word in anger (Ex 32:10), is, “Be still and know that I am God (Ps 46:10).”
Impatient idolaters, mocking God with impiety, are judged as obstinate in their sauciness (Ex 32:9). The wrath of God, pending against the ungodliness and unrighteousness of the Israelites, is the same deserved by the frolicsome church, today. The gay antics of those at the base of Sinai should have been turned to solemn gratitude for the mediatorial ministry of propitiation, facilitated by Moses’ intercession on their behalf. Should not Christ’s rollicking rebels heed the words of James, “Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy to gloom (Jam 4:9)”?
The anger of Moses (Ex 32:19–24), as a type for the anger of Jesus in the Temple (Mk 11:15–18), is directed against the funny business, in God’s house of prayer. Will you rob God of His glory in His own house, making yourselves into a den of robbers by foolery?
A great sin demands atonement, which cost Christ His precious blood, an agonizing death (1 Pet 1:19). The voice of Moses echoes, today, for the church at play, “Dedicate yourselves today to the Lord (Ex 32:29a).” A division was created in those days; and the sins of impatience, idolatry, irreverence, and irresponsibility were punished (Ex 32:28, 34–35).
The Israelites were about to receive the Ten Commandments (Ex 20; Dt 5), from the finger of God, to show them the holiness of God, which is never to be trifled with in any age, nor by anyone. May the living stones, in the Temple of God (Eph 2:20–22), be fit with holy dimensions, and may we know the chastening love of our Father (Heb 12:4–11), who crafts us with the better tool than Aaron, that being, the Word of God (Heb 4:12).
In our day of sportive jocularity in the church, may we be closely identified with the man of sorrows, God’s suffering Servant, the Lord Jesus Christ, the Holy One of Israel.
Spokane Valley, Washington
September 15, 2021