Idols of Silver, Gold, & Men
We worship the thing on which we become dependent.
You shall not make other gods besides Me; gods of silver or gods of gold, you shall not make for yourselves. — Exodus 20:23
It is interesting that just as God had finished telling Moses the 10 Commandments, He ended with this command which is a restatement of Commandment #1 & #2. Shortly afterwards, while God was still teaching His law to Moses, the people of Israel created the golden calf at the foot of Mt. Sinai, where God was still visibly present.
Exodus 32:1 Now when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, the people assembled around Aaron and said to him, “Come, make us a god who will go before us; for this Moses, the man who brought us up from the land of Egypt — we do not know what happened to him.” 2 Aaron said to them, “Tear off the gold rings which are in the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me.” 3 So all the people tore off the gold rings which were in their ears and brought them to Aaron. 4 Then he took the gold from their hands, and fashioned it with an engraving tool and made it into a cast metal calf; and they said, “This is your god, Israel, who brought you up from the land of Egypt.”… 9 Then the Lord said to Moses, “I have seen this people, and behold, they are an obstinate people. 10 So now leave Me alone, that My anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them; and I will make of you a great nation.”
We typically discount this verse as not applicable to us today because we think, “I would never make an idol out of gold or silver,” yet we also think that more money will solve our financial problems. Though money is not made of silver and gold today, it was at that time. Why did God specifically call out silver and gold (other passages include wood, stone, etc.)? We see a similar scenario when Moses created the bronze serpent (Numbers 21:4–9) that they later worshiped (2Kings 18:3–4). History shows us the mesmerizing attraction to precious metals. Since they were the form of money at that time, it was easy for people to try attracting and hoarding it as if it provided some sense of security. Sound familiar?
“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” –Matthew 6:24
Notice though, that the Israelites had an idol before they created the golden calf. Who did they say brought them out of Egypt? “Moses, the man…” Worshipping Moses was very tempting, which some speculate may be why the devil argued with the archangel Michael about the body of Moses recorded in Jude 1:9. It’s possible that Satan wanted to somehow use it to tempt the people away from God. Anytime we believe that a person or people are the source of truth, even if they are speaking truth, we are in danger of creating an idol of men. Truth only comes from God where people can guide others to it, but that would mean people would have to seek for themselves the Truth of God before trusting the words of men. Like the Berean’s did in Acts 17:10–12.
This has been my concern for years working in the financial services industry. Many people intentionally abdicate their own stewardship responsibility to others, to manage on their behalf. There is nothing wrong with having advisors, but when we are trying to remove responsibility from ourselves, we begin to become dependent. Furthermore, we seek individuals that itch our tickling ears, telling us what we want to hear, obeying their instructions instead of God’s. There are many great resources that can help people manage their resources, but many of the most popular resources utilized in churches today claim to be “God’s Way” of managing money yet they don’t utilize very many passages from the bible to back up their claim. If they use bible verses, they are applied very loosely and generically. People can choose whatever they want, but if they truly want God’s Way, perhaps they should go straight to the source.
In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge... For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. — 2Timothy 4:1–4
No other people in human history saw the presence of God the way this generation of Israelites did. Yet they still prioritized temporal, material objects as the focus of their life. God specifically commanded them to worship Him only and nothing else. God knew about Israel then, and he knows about us today, that whatever we become dependent on will be our focus of worship.
Therefore I urge you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. — Romans 12:1–2
Worship is actions based on beliefs. Behavior always follows Belief. Whatever we believe, will determine our thoughts, desires, emotions, and actions. God gave each of us the freedom to choose what to believe so that we would freely choose Him ourselves. Israel chose not to believe God and depend on Him alone. They had believed Moses was their rescuer from their slavery, then they decided the golden calf was their rescuer. If we will believe in Christ, what God said, it will direct the rest of our lives. If we understand God’s truth about money/finances and apply His truth in our stewardship, many of the financial problems we see will begin to vanish. In fact, amazing opportunities will also begin to present themselves to further expand our stewardship capacity unto flourishing.
“…if you have a readily available pool of cash (capital), opportunities with track you down.” — R. Nelson Nash (Building Your Wearhouse of Wealth pg. 22)
God’s Word is relevant and specifically applicable to our lives today (Hebrews 4:12). Freedom in any area of life can only come by knowing and applying the truth of God (John 8:31–32). Including our finances. When we intentionally follow Christ in our stewardship, not only will we experience financial freedom like never before, not only will we develop a deep relationship with our loving God, not only will we be more generous, we will also begin living a life of abundance.
“…I came so that they would have life, and have it abundantly.” — John 10:10
Will we continue serving created things as our most important need (money, people, etc.), or will we begin to serve God alone as our most important need, so He can bless us to meet our needs and beyond (Matthew 6:24–34)?