Today’s Reading: Psalms 106-107
Today’s Reflection: Psalms 106:19-22
19) At Horeb they made a calf and worshiped an idol cast from metal. 20) They exchanged their glorious God for an image of a bull, which eats grass. 21) They forgot the God who saved them, who had done great things in Egypt, 22) miracles in the land of Ham and awesome deeds by the Red Sea.
This Psalm recounts the idolatrous sins of Israel from the Exodus to the age of the Kings and highlights an interesting point: Israel’s choice to follow false forms of worship rather than the true God was a deliberate trade or exchange they made.
On the one hand, Israel had the true God, the God who had led Abraham from his home to the Promised Land of Canaan (Genesis 12:1-3), the God who led Joseph to Egypt to save the then known world from famine (Genesis 45:4-8), the God who through Moses led Israel out of bondage in Egypt and led them back to the Promised Land, the God who made them a powerful and prosperous kingdom under leaders like David and Solomon (2 Samuel 5:3-12, 1 Kings 10:1-9).
And on the other hand, they had a metal statue of an animal who aimlessly wanders fields eating grass.
Perhaps what it came down to was what the followers of each god got in exchange for their worship. The followers of God were expected to be followers of His law, to pursue Him and His ways with their hearts, minds and souls, and to allow this pursuit to transform them (Psalm 24:3-6). The selfishness, greed and fear inherent in so much human behavior was to be stripped away and replaced by faith, trust, humility and obedience, even in the face of uncertain and challenging circumstances (Job 1).
The idol worshipers prized prosperity, sexual perversion, and selfishness, and were willing to hurt others in order to continue in this behavior (Psalms 106:34-39). Not only were their lusts justified by the idols they worship, they were encouraged to indulge in them.
In an exchange, one typically evaluates the two options, looking at the pros and cons of each, ultimately selecting the option they consider to be best. In a real sense, the choice made in an exchange doesn’t merely evaluate the options, but also evaluates the one making the choice.
Each of us is worshiping something. Either we’re serving the one true God, the creator and savior of mankind, or we’ve exchanged Him for something else we currently regard as more valuable but that will ultimately lead to our destruction, just as it did for the unfaithful in Israel (Psalm 106:40-43). If you’re not following God, ask yourself, is the exchange you’ve made truly worth the price?
Ezekiel 23:46-49 – 46) For thus says the Lord God: “Bring up a vast host against them, and make them an object of terror and a plunder. 47) And the host shall stone them and cut them down with their swords. They shall kill their sons and their daughters, and burn up their houses. 48) Thus will I put an end to lewdness in the land, that all women may take warning and not commit lewdness as you have done. 49) And they shall return your lewdness upon you, and you shall bear the penalty for your sinful idolatry, and you shall know that I am the Lord God.”