Jealous But Just
The Adoration of the Golden Calf
By Nicholas Poussin
Have you ever had a mountaintop experience with God? Moses surely did, spending 40 days and night on Mount Sinai with the Lord (see Exodus 24:18). Moses had his head in the cloud, to be sure, and the cloud was the Presence of God Himself.
Suddenly, God ended their wonderful meeting, sending Moses back to confront the people. The Hebrews had talked Aaron into constructing a golden idol, shaped like a calf, from their precious jewelry. God was jealous of the people’s affection, and justly so, as they engaged in idolatry.
In anger, Moses tossed the Ten Commandments to the ground, smashing the stone tablets to bits. Soon, three thousand men had been slain by the swords of the Levites.
But Moses prayed for the people to be restored to the Lord. Moses became an intermediary between God and His people, asking the Lord for mercy on their behalf.
The prayer of Moses pierces my soul:
“Then Moses returned to the Lord and said,
‘Oh, these people have committed a great sin,
and have made for themselves a god of gold!
Yet now, if You will forgive their sin –
but if not, I pray,
blot me out of Your book
which You have written.’”
Moses was willing to offer his own salvation, in exchange for the people’s salvation. This servant-hearted leader asked the Lord to accept his life, in place of the lives of the people. Seeing his faith, the Lord chose mercy.
The Apostle Paul expressed a similar level of commitment toward those to whom he was ministering:
“For I could wish that I myself were cursed
and cut off from Christ
for the sake of my brothers,
those of my own race, the people of Israel.”
How earnestly do we pray for others to be delivered by God? What are their souls worth to us? What are we willing to sacrifice, so that others might know the Lord? Will we give our time, our talents and more towards that end?
What could be worth more than seeing others come to experience a personal relationship with our great God, the Lord of goodness, mercy and compassion? May we pray that many will know Him, and may He make us faithful in this very prayer.
“The Lord replied,
‘I will make all my goodness pass before you,
and I will call out my name, Yahweh, before you.
For I will show mercy to anyone I choose,
and I will show compassion to anyone I choose.’”
Will you pray with me?
You have said You are a jealous God,
As You deserve to be.
No one else deserves our allegiance,
Our loyalty or our love.
Show us the idols we have raised in our lives.
Grant us the strength to cast them out.
Give us the depth of devotion
To pray more consistently
And to invest ourselves more heartily
In Your ministry to the lost.
Teach us to care more deeply,
And create in us a craving
To see people come to know You
Now and forever.
We honor You.Amen.