We find the Israelites at Mt. Sinai after experiencing a miraculous rescue at the hand of Yahweh. However, instead of trusting that he will not abandon them in the wilderness, they panic, thinking Moses has possibly died after forty days on the summit of the mountain.
So they insist that Aaron build an idol, most probably an Apis bull-calf, like they would have worshiped in Egypt. Apis was known as a mediator to the gods, so this would have been a logical choice to depict the strength and power of Yahweh. Aaron, to his great shame, not only allows this but participates in it and stands by as the festival he declares “is unto the Lord” spins out of control into a wild, sinful display.
Instead of embracing their new identity as a nation of priests dedicated to Yahweh, the Hebrews slip back into comfortable ways, drag their gods with them into the desert, and use false worship practices in an attempt to appease Yahweh. In doing so, they try to fit Yahweh into their own man-made “boxes” and make him conform to their convoluted understanding of how a divine being should behave.
The Israelites’ identity was based on their mixed-up worldview from their time in Egypt. They held onto old traditions and worship patterns that felt comfortable to them, instead of accepting that Yahweh was teaching them a pure way to worship him and calling them to be a holy, set-apart people—giving them a new identity, even as he guided them through a wilderness of testing.
When Moses asked for people to step forward and fight on the side of Yahweh, it was the tribe of Levi who was willing to ruthlessly root-out those who had instigated the golden-calf worship. Because of their unquestioning obedience, the Levites received a high calling to serve in the Tabernacle, the dwelling-place of the shekinah glory.
We, too, have a tendency to drag along our mixed-up worldview, slip back into comfortable worldly patterns, and attempt to make Yahweh behave the way we think he should. We doubt his goodness, his perfect will, his steadfastness. And yet the Word says that we, too, are called to be a “royal priesthood” (1 Pet. 2:9) set-apart for his purposes, and to be holy and blameless.
Will we, like the Levites, step forward and be ruthless in our obedience? Accept the responsibilities that we have been given? Cast off our old identity and put on the new one?
Questions to Consider:
What things do you need to turn away from, or ruthlessly cut out, in order to ensure that your daily walk is reflective of the calling of “Royal Priest”?
What comforts or worldly patterns do you need to leave behind to pursue Yeshua (Jesus) more fully? Which of these do you turn to most during times of testing and trial?
How have you attempted to make a god in your own image or make God fit in man-made boxes, instead of being transformed into his true image? What steps can you take to ensure that your worldview aligns with his?
Spend some time considering your identity as a “priest of the Most High God." How does this change your perspective and daily interactions?