Do We Serve Idols?
Elder Wm. Doyal Thomas
Pastor - Philadelphia Baptist Church
Decatur , Alabama
    "And when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down out of the mount, the people gathered themselves together unto Aaron, and said unto him, Up, make us gods, which shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him. And Aaron said unto them, Break off the golden earrings, which are in the ears of your wives, of your sons, and of your daughters, and bring them unto me. And all the people brake off the golden earrings which were in their ears, and brought unto Aaron. And he received them at their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool, after he had made it a molten calf: and they said, These be thy gods, 0 Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt. And when Aaron saw it, he built an altar before it; and Aaron made proclamation, and said, Tomorrow is a feast to the Lord. And they rose up early on the morrow, and offered burnt- offerings, and brought peace-offerings: and the people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play." (Exodus 32:1-6)
    Oh, the religious false joys that come to people when they engage themselves in the worship of idols! When God is disowned, the imaginations of man are triggered by the evil that lurks within his darkened heart. Triggered into action; into activity; into abominable conduct as his fleshly efforts take over and produce a work that is putrefying in the eyes of a Holy and Righteous God.
    It is abominable because every act of idol worship shows afresh that man is, and has been since his fall in Adam, a creature who is totally depraved and void of righteousness, or of making right judgments or assessments.
    Idol worship holds in contempt; despises; belittles the precious Blood of the Sacrifice of God - the sacrifice of God's Son, the Man, Christ Jesus. He is God's Sacrifice, and to fail to acknowledge Him, and to trust in Him is to despise Him. That is, to despise Him is to hold Him and His work as insufficient or as incomplete.
    Denying His sufficiency is turning one's back upon Him. It is not necessary to publish abroad, nor to publicly declare that the Blood is not sufficient for denial to exist. If this were the only means of denial, relatively few indeed could be accused of such an heinous crime. Most people, then and now, would not so openly decry God as to say they do not believe Him. Yet, by action, man has, and does deny Him just as blatantly as if they announced it in every publication, upon the airways, and by every other means of communication that exists upon the earth.
    In many, in fact, in most religious bodies this denial of God is practiced continually. Every system of works which man has subscribed to as Satan devised them give ample evidence that such is the case. An examination of these systems of works will verify the accuracy of this statement. Honest appraisal of what men say and teach will unquestionably show that this is so.
    God, in His Absolute Being has spoken to man, through the Lord Jesus Christ, and has declared that He has decreed the salvation of His people. As the prophet Jonah was brought to see and to acknowledge, he declared that "Salvation is of the Lord" ( Jonah 2:9). And the Apostle Paul was directed to proclaim in Ephesians. 2:8 , "For by grace are ye saved, through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God."
    The Bible so vividly sets forth that a man's relationship to God is wholly without merit on the part of man, but is dependent upon the goodness of God. That grace has been bestowed when none was deserved; that mercy has been extended when none was called for; that peace has been given when no peace could be earned or claimed, is without a doubt, the doctrine of the Bible.
    Yet, in the face of this abundant and overwhelming evidence, man continues to cry, "but this is also needful". As the Judiazers who followed after the Apostle Paul and his missionary companions as they ministered to the saints of God in the churches in the province of Galatia would say, "That it is needful for them to be circumcised and to keep the law of Moses". No outright denial of the grace of God as Paul had proclaimed it, but they insisted on an addition to this free grace. Works, if you will, that polluted the sweetest teaching that God sent to His elect; that He had undertaken their cause and has accomplished their salvation. These Judiazers, by their perverted gospel were holding in contempt the Blood of the Sacrifice of God.
    An examination of the scriptures that were given as a text for this sermon will show that Israel was no different in substance, nor in practice from what we see demonstrated on all sides as we look around professing christendom today. Everywhere you look, you see the same evil.
    Notice that while Moses was apart from them (as Christ is presently apart, in body, from His churches today) the people gathered themselves together for a meeting. What came out of that meeting was their imaginary methods of worship. They spoke to Aaron contemptuously, demanding of him that gods be made whom they could worship.
    Aaron knuckled under to the pressures that were placed upon him. He, the duly appointed undershepherd who was charged by Moses to care for the flock in his absence, gave in without a struggle in order to please the people in their corruptions. How sad, yet how typical. We give up, and become men pleasers, and are not fit to serve Him who has called us into His glorious service. For every excuse imaginable, we so often walk unworthy of further service. Oh, may we trust Him more, and serve Him in a more acceptable manner. Lord, help us to love You more.
    Aaron now takes the lead in the awful, dreadful display of idolatry. He instructs the people. He devises means that are designed to satisfy their lustful desires. He molds; he engraves; he beautifies; he cleans up and makes it all seem to be respectable in order that all may participate with clear conscience in so vain and terrible an act.
    The gold is cast into a molten image. Then he uses the graving tool upon the image. Observe, that religious systems devised and practiced by dreadful, depraved man has now a pattern established. That the outcome of these efforts is to be gods to Israel there can be no doubt. They themselves demanded gods to be made; to go before them, that they might follow these gods.
    The making of these gods was a progressive" process, if you will. Material was gathered, and it was good material, right? Construction was undertaken, and the work was solidly planned and organized, right? Respectability was given to the outcome as allurements and beauties were added to the "device" or "system", right?
    What could possibly be wrong with all this? It was done in the name of gods; it was made under direction of Aaron; it was of quality material and ingredients; it was made beautiful and acceptable in appearance. Surely anyone who could find fault with all the good and notable efforts must be just a fanatic of some kind. What could possibly be wrong with all these methods of accomplishing the worship of gods? Who among us can not be drawn into this refined, dignified, outward appearance?
    Listen, child of God. Hear the commands that God gives to His people concerning this very thing. "Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth below, or that is in the water under the earth". (Exodus 20:4)
    How many things in our lives and in our practice can be counted as images, or likenesses? Do we excuse ourselves with the flimsy and vulgar declarations that "it seems to be all right"? We generally do not have any literal "golden calves" in that form in our churches and in our lives. But we have them nevertheless in other forms. And these forms are just as corrupt and vile as if they were indeed molten of real gold and graven with a real graving tool so as to render them acceptable or all right in our own estimation.
    Beloved, be not deceived, for God is not mocked. Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. If we insist upon man made systems and practices that are idolatrous, we shall indeed reap the corruptions that are produced. Our churches will suffer in that their testimony will be corrupted and worshipers will be deluded into believing that what man does, so long as he is "sincere" and does it honestly will be acceptable with God. Antenomianism will prevail, as I fear it now is prevailing in many of the Lord's churches.
    How often have we heard, "But preacher, we have always had organizational procedures that have been founded upon old Baptist traditions that were good enough for our fathers". Or, "Surely the need is apparent for Mission Boards, and Sunday School Boards, and brotherhoods, and WMU's, and whatever else the 'system' has devised for promoting the activities of churches".
    And what about Santa Claus, and the Easter Bunny, and Christmas trees, and pictures of the Lord, and bazaars, and pool tables, and gyms, and gimmicks, and inducements and etc., etc., etc.? I ask you, what about all these? And I answer, are they scriptural? Of course they are not. Then, on what possible basis can you say that they are acceptable? How can ANYTHING that is not scriptural be acceptable?
    It surely cannot be denied that ample evidence is presented in God's Book that all manner of unscriptural practices are used, yet without a shred of evidence that renders them or their use to be acceptable and scriptural when they are not.
    None of God's people can be called upon to prove that all such practices are unscriptural, though they can certainly be proved. The burden of proof, from the Scriptures, is therefore upon the instigator and practitioner of these abominations. Let just one word of Scripture be advanced that justifies such ungodly practices and I will yield, and confess "thus saith God". But until such scriptural proof is presented, I must declare before God and man that it is wrong and may I be delivered from it.
    Now, to give some further indications of how these practices began, look again to the six verses of scripture (Exodus 32:1-6 ) and read how Aaron, when he saw it, built an altar. Is the building of this altar authorized? God did not command it. You answer. Further, Aaron made proclamation. Did God make proclamation? You answer. This proclamation declared that tomorrow is a feast to the Lord.
    Look here, dear reader. Moses was upon the Mount Sinai for forty days to receive of God the commandments concerning the Law, the Tabernacle, and all that God would command concerning the sacrifices, the priesthood, the worship service, and acceptable service to God. Read Exodus chapters 25 thru 31. And all these events that we read of in chapter 32 occurred while Moses was there, on the mount, with God.
    Israel had been miraculously and abundantly delivered from Egypt on the 15th day of the first month (Exodus 12:2) following the night of the Passover observance in Egypt. Now, thirty days later would have been during the midst of the second month, and forty days from their deliverance would have dated the making of the "golden calf" and the corresponding proclamation in, or during the third month of the revised Jewish calendar.
    In studying Leviticus, chapter 23, it can be observed that NO "feasts" are denoted in either the third or fourth months. Thus, Aaron's "proclamation" was, in itself, and in its entirety, completely out of order. Consequently, any activity that comes out of, or is predicated upon an unscriptural basis or foundation can never be scriptural.
    Can proclamation be made by the satanic system we know as Romanism (papalism) ever render Christ-mass anything more than the paganism of Babylon? Can Mission Boards, etc., be rendered scriptural when they are not, even though "proclamation" is made by the Southern Baptist Convention? In fact, can the existence of THESE TWO SYSTEMS (AD 300 and AD 1846) be rendered scriptural? No matter how many 'proclamations" are made, they, and all other systems of men, are unscriptural.
    Don't approach me with the hang-dog look of a pious religionist and whine that these systems are all right, and that we should embrace them, at least until something better comes along. I declare to you, and to them, that a better "something" has come along. In fact, it precedes these systems by all the ages of eternal past. It is called the Word of God. Lord, please grant that we should embrace Thy Word. Pray, Father, remove from us these defilements that we may the better worship and serve Thee.
    "And they rose up early on the morrow, and offered burnt offerings, and brought peace- offerings; and the people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play" (Verse 6).
    After all the unauthorized activities of devising, making, beautifying, proclaiming, and deluding was over, then practice of idol worship was put into force. "Lo, this only have I found, that God hath made man upright; but they have sought out many inventions." ( Eccel. 7:29)
    Burnt offerings were made upon an alien altar, before a pagan, foreign god; an idol. How this does belittle, and scornfully reproach our Lord and Saviour! How this is detestable and contemptible in the sight of God. For burnt- offerings to be made in this manner is to cause the stench of rotten and putrefying substances to ascend toward God in open affront to His Own well Beloved Son, and our Sacrifice.
    Burnt offerings denoted the complete willingness of Christ to suffer in the stead of His beloved elect. His complete devotedness unto God the Father in this marvelous assignment of sacrifice and sufficiency as one who is our Reconciler is shown forth in fullness of acquiescence unto the Divine and Sovereign Will.
    To have Him to be so mocked is dreadful even to consider. Yet these practitioners of idolatry were delighted to do so, in that they thought it was all right. Were they not taught by Aaron that it was acceptable? Did not Aaron make proclamation?
    Following the "burnt offerings", the people also brought "peace offerings". After having openly and willingly defied God, they now come with peace offerings. How awful is the picture here presented. After the abomination of alien "burnt offerings", now come the worshipers with their "peace offerings", as though they are still in full fellowship with God. Peace offerings denoted that fellowship existed between a God who had been propitiated by the death of His Son, and an offending people for whom He has died.
    Can there be no limit to what corrupt man will do? Is there no shame among humanity? To belittle God is one thing, but to manifest such audacity as to approach Him afterward with a smile upon one's face, and infer that fellowship is still sweet is unthinkable. Yet, so they did. And so do men at this very present hour.
    "That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ." (I John 1:3)
    Child of God, it does not matter if we claim to have fellowship with God and with His people. What matters is, do we? Can we humiliate our Saviour and still claim to walk with Him? "How can two walk together, except they be agreed?" "What communion hath light with darkness?"
    The result of this idolatry of Israel is now shown by what follows. After the "worship", the people were rendered joyous, apparently, for their actions indicated such. They sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play.
    What they had done, they had done in the name of worshiping their gods. Thus, their human zeal was satisfied, and their consciences were aflame with goodness and righteousness. They had "done their duty"; they had met their "obligations" to serve gods. Now, whatever followed would be all right for they had been doing their "worship".
    They sat down to eat and to drink. Their sitting down following false worship is filled with gluttony and excess as was evidenced by their participation in the debauchery and orgies that are recorded. Their reveling and drunkenness was heard by Moses and Joshua as these two servants of God returned to them from the mount. Joshua believed that the sounds were the sounds of warfare, as though an attack had been made upon Israel during his and Moses' absence.
    Moses, however, having been appraised by God of the activities, replied that it was not the sounds of an invading army, nor the sounds of anguish of a people being attacked.. Instead, it was the "sounds of them that sing do I hear". (Verse 18).
    The rising up of the people from their eating and drinking was to their "rising up to play". Surely, this rising up to play implied their debauchery and merrymaking. But further, it implied their willingness to play at worship. How indicative of people now who merely "play church". After all the activities of false worship that placates the mind and pacifies the conscience are accomplished, playing follows.
    Is it so among God's people today? Alas, among many peoples and churches it is so today. Little is done among idolatrous people without naming the name of Jesus. Though it is often a mockery, yet His Glorious and Holy Name is put forth, as though that would lend credence to such as men do in His name. "For many will say in that day, Lord, have we not done many marvelous works in thy name"?
    Do you practice the worship of idols? Do I? Is the place where God has made gracious provisions for your labor become more important to you than His Person? Is your status in this life overshadowing your love for His countenance? Does the desire for the acclaim of men, (even family) stand foremost in your mind so that your first thoughts are man ward, rather than God ward?
    Are you giving undo attention to mammon? Do you plan so that your own lusts and desires will be provided for, giving no attention and little thought to laying up treasures in heaven? Do you desire to relish your rewards in this life?
    Beloved, no single paper can be presented that will call proper attention to the horror of this subject. It is fearful. It is heinous to commit such absurd crimes against a Righteous, Just, Holy, Jealous God. Yet men persist in the folly of worshiping idols, be they in whatever form.
    Please continue to read beyond verse 6 of Exodus 32 , through Chapters 33 and 34, so that you may be caused of God to realize the terrible results of these crimes. See how God plagues His people for their haughty, stiff-necked, and obstinate behavior. Refrain from falling prey to such evil, that it may be well with you and that you may have long and happy days before God.
    In conclusion, please notice I Corinthians 10:6,7,14 . "Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted. Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play. Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry."
    In speaking to the church at Ephesus, Christ declared, "Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love." ( Rev. 2:4 ) And to the church at Smyrna, "I know thy works, and tribulations, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews,
and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan." (Rev. 2:9)
    Have we left our first love, as did Israel when they demanded, "make us gods"? Have we become synagogues of Satan in which all the defilements which that deceiver has brought before us occupy us to our shame?
    "I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve that thou mayest see." ( Rev. 3:18 )
    Do we serve idols? Dearly Beloved, I fear that all too often we do indeed serve idols.
    "Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen."

(The Baptist Herald - May, 1990)

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