The Worship of the Calf #6

Sunday, October 3, 2021

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, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt (Exodus 32:4 KJV).

Why is calf-worship so prevalent in Holy Scripture?

As they worshipped diverse gods and goddesses, the ancient Egyptians were simply conducting themselves according to Romans 1:20-23: “[20] For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: [21] Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. [22] Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, [23] And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.

The above passage depicts the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11:1-9), the origin of world religions except Judaism. Along with all the other Gentiles or nations, the Egyptians worshipped fellow humans and various animals. Since the people of the world were not appreciative of the one true God, and willfully gathered at Babel to start their own (one-world) religious system, God confounded their languages and scattered them. Whatever evil thoughts they had in unity, these were translated or converted in their minds, thus expanding why world religions (no matter how far removed physically) are quite close doctrinally.

Israel knew the depraved spiritual conditions of the world around her. She was also aware of how the one true God, after letting the nations “walk in their own ways” (Acts 14:15,16; Acts 17:29,30), had set apart her father Abraham from that darkness and confusion (Genesis chapter 12). Her separation from the Gentiles was fortified via the Law of Moses, which had been given to her alone (Deuteronomy 4:1-10; Psalm 147:19,20; Romans 3:1,2). Consequently, Israel’s association with the world’s religions was wholly unacceptable. Whereas the Gentiles were ignorant of their satanic bondage in religion, Israel knew better and still adopted such systems!

Now we address the significance of calf-worship….

The Worship of the Calf #5

Saturday, October 2, 2021

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, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt (Exodus 32:4 KJV).

Why is calf-worship so prevalent in Holy Scripture?

Remember, Israel spent over four centuries in Egypt (Genesis 15:13; Exodus 12:40,41). During that time, the Jewish people were exposed to countless deities (pagan gods and goddesses), distracting them from the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Consequently, Exodus 3:13-15: “And Moses said unto God, Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I say unto them? And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you. And God said moreover unto Moses, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, the LORD God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me unto you: this is my name for ever, and this is my memorial unto all generations.”

The 10 plagues the LORD God meted out on Egypt demonstrated His superiority to 10 Egyptian deities. “For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the LORD(Exodus 12:12). “For the Egyptians buried all their firstborn, which the LORD had smitten among them: upon their gods also the LORD executed judgments (Numbers 33:4). One of these gods was the highly venerated Apis/Hapis, a bull/calf god!

Having crossed the Red Sea, although no longer in Egypt physically, Israel was still there mentally and spiritually. As indicated in today’s Scripture, her people never made a clean break from their old lifestyle. They retained the idea of calf-worship, copying what they had seen the ancient Egyptians do for hundreds of years….

The Worship of the Calf #4

Friday, October 1, 2021

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, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt (Exodus 32:4 KJV).

Why is calf-worship so prevalent in Holy Scripture?

King Jeroboam’s activities concerning calf-worship are summarized: “For the Levites left their suburbs and their possession, and came to Judah and Jerusalem: for Jeroboam and his sons had cast them off from executing the priest’s office unto the LORD: And he ordained him priests for the high places, and for the devils, and for the calves which he had made (2 Chronicles 11:14,15). “And now ye think to withstand the kingdom of the LORD in the hand of the sons of David; and ye be a great multitude, and there are with your golden calves, which Jeroboam made you for gods (2 Chronicles 13:8). “Howbeit from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin, Jehu departed not from after them, to wit, the golden calves that were in Bethel, and that were in Dan” (2 Kings 10:29). “And they left all the commandments of the LORD their God, and made them molten images, even two calves, and made a grove, and worshipped all the host of heaven, and served Baal” (2 Kings 17:16).

“Thy calf, O Samaria, hath cast thee off; mine anger is kindled against them: how long will it be ere they attain to innocency? For from Israel was it also: the workman made it; therefore it is not God: but the calf of Samaria shall be broken in pieces” (Hosea 8:5-6). “The inhabitants of Samaria shall fear because of the calves of Bethaven: for the people thereof shall mourn over it, and the priests thereof that rejoiced on it, for the glory thereof, because it is departed from it” (Hosea 10:5). “And now they sin more and more, and have made them molten images of their silver, and idols according to their own understanding, all of it the work of the craftsmen: they say of them, Let the men that sacrifice kiss the calves(Hosea 13:2).

Only through careful study of verses will we discover the reason for the preoccupation with calf-worship….

Bible Q&As #884 and #885: “What are ‘chapmen?’” and “Do 1 Kings 9:28 and 2 Chronicles 8:18 contradict?

The Worship of the Calf #3

Thursday, September 30, 2021

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, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt (Exodus 32:4 KJV).

Why is calf-worship so prevalent in Holy Scripture?

Thrice more God refers to Israel’s calf-worship at Mount Sinai. “Yea, when they had made them a molten calf, and said, This is thy God that brought thee up out of Egypt, and had wrought great provocations;…” (Nehemiah 9:18). They made a calf in Horeb, and worshipped the molten image (Psalm 106:19). “To whom [God] our fathers would not obey, but thrust him from them, and in their hearts turned back again into Egypt, Saying unto Aaron, Make us gods to go before us: for as for this Moses, which brought us out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him. And they made a calf in those days, and offered sacrifice unto the idol, and rejoiced in the works of their own hands” (Acts 7:39-41). Nevertheless, 500 years after Moses, the Jews resumed their calf-worship.

Once King Solomon died, Israel was divided into two southern tribes (Judah) and 10 northern tribes (Israel). This weakening of Jewish political might was God’s judgment for Solomon’s repeated idolatry (1 Kings 11:1-43; cf. Leviticus 26:18-19). Judah remained loyal to David’s house through son Solomon and grandson Rehoboam, but Israel swore allegiance to Jeroboam the servant of Solomon. Jeroboam, fearing Israel would worship at the Jerusalem Temple according to God’s true religion revealed to Moses, instituted a counterfeit religion up north. What do you suppose was Jeroboam’s preferred idol?!?

“Whereupon the king took counsel, and made two calves of gold, and said unto them, It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem: behold thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt…. And Jeroboam ordained a feast in the eighth month, on the fifteenth day of the month, like unto the feast that is in Judah, and he offered upon the altar. So did he in Bethel, sacrificing unto the calves that he had made: and he placed in Bethel the priests of the high places which he had made” (1 Kings 12:28,32).

Calf-worship continues in Israel….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “What does ‘trow’ mean?

The Worship of the Calf #2

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

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, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt (Exodus 32:4 KJV).

Why is calf-worship so prevalent in Holy Scripture?

God directs Moses, on Mount Sinai, to return to the people below (verse 8): “They have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them: they have made them a molten calf, and have worshipped it, and have sacrificed thereunto, and said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which have brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.” The chapter continues: “[19] And it came to pass, as soon as he came nigh unto the camp, that he saw the calf, and the dancing: and Moses’ anger waxed hot, and he cast the tables out of his hands, and brake them beneath the mount. [20] And he took the calf which they had made, and burnt it in the fire, and ground it to powder, and strawed it upon the water, and made the children of Israel drink of it…. [24] [Aaron speaking to Moses] And I said unto them, Whosoever hath any gold, let them break it off. So they gave it me: then I cast it into the fire, and there came out this calf…. [35] And the LORD plagued the people, because they made the calf, which Aaron made.”

When Moses asked Aaron for an explanation, Aaron confessed he had done nothing more than take their gold, throw it into the fire, and a calf-idol “just appeared” (verse 24)! Imagine such foolishness! Some 40 years later, dying Moses reminds the new generation of Israelites of this terrible sin: “And I looked, and, behold, ye had sinned against the LORD your God, and had made you a molten calf: ye had turned aside quickly out of the way which the LORD had commanded you…. And I took your sin, the calf which ye had made, and burnt it with fire, and stamped it, and ground it very small, even until it was as small as dust: and I cast the dust thereof into the brook that descended out of the mount” (Deuteronomy 9:16,21).

Was this a “one-time” transgression of Israel? No….

The Worship of the Calf #1

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

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, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt (Exodus 32:4 KJV).

Why is calf-worship so prevalent in Holy Scripture?

Once JEHOVAH God redeemed the nation Israel from Egypt, and Moses ascended Mount Sinai to receive the Ten Commandments and the rest of the Law, the Jewish people were left in the care of Aaron, Moses’ brother. Today’s Scripture in context: “[1] 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. [2] 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. [3] And all the people brake off the golden earrings which were in their ears, and brought them unto Aaron. [4] 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, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.”

As far as the Bible record is concerned, here is the first of several instances of calf-worship. The Jews had grown tired of waiting around for Moses to return with the words of the one true God, so they turned their attention to pagan deities or idols. In fact, Aaron, Israel’s second-in-command religious leader after Moses, was more than eager to pacify them! Using the gold they had acquired from the Egyptians (Exodus 12:35,36), Aaron made them a “golden calf,” and they declared, most ridiculously: “These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.” How stupid it was to think gods they fashioned had any power to deliver them from mighty Egypt….

Our latest Bible Q&As: “Can you explain prophetic ‘burdens?’” and “Did Jesus ride two animals on Palm Sunday?

The Great Eagle #4

Thursday, July 29, 2021

“And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent” (Revelation 12:14 KJV).

Who or what is this “great eagle?”

The eagle is noteworthy in Scripture because it is swift or powerful when attacking its prey (Deuteronomy 28:49; 2 Samuel 1:23; Job 9:26; Jeremiah 4:13; Lamentations 4:19; Habakkuk 1:8). Also, it flies overhead and lives in the heavens or air/atmosphere (Job 39:27; Proverbs 23:5; Proverbs 30:19; Jeremiah 49:16; Obadiah 4). These are actually quite illustrious of the LORD God’s behavior, are they not?

Consequently, regarding His mighty power in delivering Israel from Egypt, and His supremacy in rescuing Israel in today’s Scripture, we read in Isaiah chapter 40: “[28] Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding. [29] He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. [30] Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: [31] But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

As touching the Bible’s symbol for God, it is the eagle—majestic, heavenly, formidable. The four “cherubim” (spirit creatures) surrounding His throne have four faces: a lion’s face, an ox’s/calf’s face, a man’s face, and an eagle’s face (Ezekiel 1:10; Ezekiel 10:14; Revelation 4:7). These four images correspond to the Four Gospel Records, four different perspectives or portrayals of the Lord Jesus Christ: Matthew (lion, King), Mark (ox/calf, Servant), Luke (man, Man), and John (eagle, God). Incidentally, it was the Apostle John who also wrote today’s Scripture. As the Antichrist threatens believing Israel in Jerusalem and Judaea (cf. Matthew 24:15-21; Mark 13:14-19; Luke 21:20-28), God Himself—the “great eagle”—rescues them and hides them out in the wilderness until Christ returns. Satan and the Antichrist cannot harm them (Revelation 12:15-17).

We summarize and conclude this devotionals arc….

Our two latest Bible Q&As: “‘Believe’ and ‘faith’—same or different?” and “Why did Rachel want Leah’s mandrakes?

The Great Eagle #3

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

“And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent” (Revelation 12:14 KJV).

Who or what is this “great eagle?”

If curious about the meaning of the eagle in today’s Scripture, we simply look up the word “eagle” in a Bible concordance and see related verses. These passages will then shed light on the verse about which we have a question. Remember, the Bible features its own built-in dictionary: we let it interpret itself. Obviously, though, it requires effort to find and read cross-referenced verses. However, the common church member is accustomed to being shallow in the Scriptures; therefore, Bible study is frequently dismissed as “boring,” and is thus rare. Yet, study and subsequent meditation is the only way to grow spiritually. Still, we are usually tempted to let someone else (preacher, priest, teacher, professor, church father, et cetera) study and think for us. Until we break ourselves of that bad habit, false teachers will continue to master us and we will remain in darkness and childishness.

The first “eagle” appears in a King James Bible in Exodus chapter 19, the LORD addressing Moses as touching Israel’s rescue from Pharaoh’s (Satan’s) bondage: “And Moses went up unto God, and the LORD called unto him out of the mountain, saying, Thus shalt thou say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel; Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles’ wings, and brought you unto myself” (verses 3,4). Four decades later, just before he dies physically, Moses reminds Israel of that marvelous escape: “As an eagle stirreth up her nest, fluttereth over her young, spreadeth abroad her wings, taketh them, beareth them on her wings: So the LORD alone did lead him [Israel], and there was no strange god with him” (Deuteronomy 32:11,12). Notice the striking parallels to today’s Scripture. Were American troops present to deliver Israel from Egypt? No! That was over 3,000 years before the United States existed!

Let us continue searching the Scriptures and forming our chain of “eagle” Bible cross-references….

Throwing Them Out! #3

Monday, September 14, 2020

And they laughed him to scorn. But when he had put them all out, he taketh the father and the mother of the damsel, and them that were with him, and entereth in where the damsel was lying (Mark 5:40 KJV).

Why did Jesus throw these people out?

Never should we forget that, when the Lord was performing miracles, the purpose was much more than simply to excite people or rescue them from difficulties. Chiefly, most importantly, “the Jews require a sign” (1 Corinthians 1:22). A miracle in Scripture is for Israel’s benefit, designed to signify or communicate a particular doctrine or teaching.

For example, recall when JEHOVAH God commissioned Moses to return to the Israelites enslaved in Egypt. The Bible reports in Exodus 4:1: “And Moses answered and said, But, behold, they will not believe me, nor hearken unto my voice: for they will say, The LORD hath not appeared unto thee.” God then endowed Moses with miraculous power to authenticate his ministry and message. His rod could transform into a snake, he was able to heal leprosy (skin disease), and he could turn the river’s water into blood (verses 2-9). “And Aaron spake all the words which the LORD had spoken unto Moses, and did the signs in the sight of the people. And the people believed…” (verses 30,31). “Signs” belong to Israel, for they are Israel’s national birthright (cf. Psalm 74:9). The same is true concerning Christ’s earthly ministry.

Let us consider Luke 8:1, “…[Jesus] went throughout every city and village, preaching and shewing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God: and the twelve were with him,….” Not only did Christ preach, He validated those words with miraculous deeds: He “preached” and “shewed” the Gospel of the Kingdom of God. “Then said Jesus unto him, Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe (John 4:48). The last verse of Mark notes: “And they [the 12 Apostles] went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen.”

With all that said, why did the Lord raise Jairus’ little daughter from the dead? He was authenticating His message. The key is to remember the girl’s age, and all will be clear….

The Holy Land

Thursday, September 3, 2020

“And the LORD shall inherit Judah his portion in the holy land, and shall choose Jerusalem again” (Zechariah 2:12 KJV).

A common expression in Christian parlance, what exactly is “the Holy Land” anyway?

The phrase appears just once in the King James Bible. Nevertheless, the idea is not isolated to today’s Scripture. Dating back to ancient times, even pagan idolaters have understood the Middle East as special. Of course, before there was a Bible, early man had verbally passed down from generation to generation the news of the Garden of Eden being in modern Iraq (see Genesis 2:14, the confluence of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers).

Isaiah (chapter 40) speaks of the LORD as Creator: “[21] Have ye not known? have ye not heard? hath it not been told you from the beginning? have ye not understood from the foundations of the earth? [22] It is he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers; that stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in:….” God intended the universe to be His house!

Among the hundreds upon hundreds of billions of celestial bodies, God placed “the blue marble” (planet Earth). “For the LORD hath chosen Zion [Jerusalem]; he hath desired it for his habitation. This is my rest for ever: here will I dwell; for I have desired it” (Psalm 132:13,14). Of course, Adam and Eve sinned and never saw God’s earthly kingdom. Many centuries later, the LORD brought Israel out of Egypt: “Thou in thy mercy hast led forth the people which thou hast redeemed: thou hast guided them in thy strength unto thy holy habitation” (Exodus 15:13). Verse 17: “Thou shalt bring them in, and plant them in the mountain of thine inheritance, in the place, O LORD, which thou hast made for thee to dwell in, in the Sanctuary, O LORD, which thy hands have established.” The words “sanctuary” (think “saint!”) and “holy” are synonymous, meaning “set apart for God’s purposes.” Alas, Israel also sinned, also never seeing that kingdom.

Yet, the Prophets foretell: “The LORD is there” (Ezekiel 48:35). Jesus is thus called, “Emmanuel, God with us” (Matthew 1:23; Isaiah 7:14). Today’s Scripture is Israel and her (His) land finally restored at Christ’s Second Coming, His (her) Millennial Kingdom!