And the Lord said to Moses, “Go down, for your people, whom you brought up out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves. They have turned aside quickly out of the way that I commanded them. They have made for themselves a golden calf and have worshiped it and sacrificed to it and said, ‘These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!'” (Exodus 32:7–8)
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Well, that didn’t take long. Moses had been gone a while, receiving from the LORD the Divine Service instructions for the people of Israel. While the LORD delivered specific instructions regarding the ways God would bless the people and put on them His holiness (Exodus 25-31), the people grew impatient and decided to fashion a god to whom they could offer sacrifice.
What does it take for you to doubt the good and gracious presence of God? We churn out false gods as fast as we can. Our gods, “O Israel,” are money, popularity, success at school or work, the approval of the world, and the fulfillment of every disgusting appetite of our sinful selves. God brought His heavy hand of judgment on the people by the sword and a terrible plague. What do we deserve for our idolatry? We who do not fear, love, and trust in God above all things? What do we deserve? “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23a). That is the just payment for our idolatry.
But this is not what we receive. Here is the miracle of the Gospel: “The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23). One greater than Moses has come. “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons” (Galatians 4:4-5).
Your idolatry is answered for in Jesus. Moses appealed to the mercy of God on behalf of the people. Jesus Himself intercedes for you now! You are not the object of God’s wrath and anger. You are not outside the family of God but have been baptismally adopted as His own child. Return from your idolatry to the One who loves you to death in the death of His Son. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.
We implore You, O Lord, in your kindness to show us Your great mercy that we may be set from our sins and rescued from the punishments that we rightly deserve; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.