Making Our Own God

Parashat Ki Tisa (When You Lift Up)
Shemot (Exodus) 30:11-34:35
Haftarah: 1 Kings 18:1-39

This week, we read one of the most well-known, yet tragic accounts in the history of the people of Israel. It begins with Moses on Mt. Sinai, receiving the stone tablets, which were written with God’s finger. During that time, the people grew impatient because they thought Moses was delayed coming down the mountain. They gathered against Aaron and told him to make them a god that would walk before them since they did not know what happened to Moses. Aaron feared the people more than he feared God. This fear caused him to surrender to the people; he collected all the golden earrings and turned them into a molten calf and then blasphemously declared that this was Israel’s God who redeemed them from Egypt:

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.” 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.” So all the people tore off the gold rings which were in their ears and brought them to Aaron. 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.”
Exodus 32:1-4

The above account is tragic on a few levels. The first one is the lack of trust and patience that the people of Israel demonstrated. They witnessed the mighty hand of God in delivering them from Egypt, yet they could not wait for Moses to come down from the mountain. 

The second tragic thing is that the people put their trust in Moses rather than in God Himself. They panicked when it took Moses time to come down from the mountain, so they told Aaron to make them a god. They put their hope in God’s messenger, Moses, more than they trusted God. 

The third tragedy is the fact that Aaron did not do the job that he was called to in co-leading God’s people. Instead of standing firmly on God’s truth and leading with integrity, he surrendered to the people out of fear and built them a man-made image of a god.

As one reads this tragic account, it is easy to judge Aaron and the people of Israel. Honestly, how could they have witnessed all of God’s great signs and wonders in Egypt, and then be so quick to betray Him by worshiping a false god? Yet, the reality is that just like the people of Israel, when we do not see God at work, we grow impatient, don’t we? Aren’t we also like the people of Israel in that we often put our hope in men, God’s messengers, more than in God Himself? And just like the people of Israel, isn’t it easier or more convenient to trust in what we can see with our eyes versus a God that we have never seen but know exists? These are tough questions, but I believe if we are to strengthen our walk with the Lord, we need to be honest with ourselves. 

In the Haftarah portion, we read of yet another well-known and famous account of Elijah confronting King Ahab and the false prophets of Baal. In it we read:

So Ahab sent orders among all the sons of Israel and brought the prophets together at Mount Carmel. Then Elijah approached all the people and said, “How long are you going to struggle with the two choices? If the LORD is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.” But the people did not answer him so much as a word.
1 Kings 18:20-21

The fact that the people chose to not answer Elijah shows they were confused; they did not know the one and only true God, the God of Israel, and they feared man more than they feared God.

Do you find yourself confused about what is happening in the world today? Are the growing pressures of this world, the opinions of your family, friends, coworkers, fellow congregants, and even your leaders causing you to be confused? Do you remain silent, or worse, voice opinions that may stand in opposition to God’s precepts and His Word?

Israel’s war with Hamas is one of the things that many people are confused about today. I recently got a comment on a video that I posted saying, “Under God, it is not allowed to massacre 20,000 people. Israel is defying the word of God, they are enacting the works of Satan. No child should be a martyr.” This is from someone who is clearly confused by the situation here in Israel. It is not Israel who is doing the works of Satan, but Hamas and its allies. It is not Israel who is using children as martyrs, human shields, slaves, or brainwashed victims but rather Hamas and its allies. Sadly, many like this person choose to worship a different god other than the one and only true God of Abraham, Isaac, & Jacob. They turned God into a man-made god who may fit their own narrative and wishful desires. They ignore the entire Word of God and by doing so, miss the significance of the times that we are living in and God’s plan. 

Dear reader, in closing, I would like to challenge you to search your heart and see that the God that you follow is truly the one and only true God, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the One who was, who is, and will always be… not his messengers or man-made gods. 

Shabbat Shalom,

Check out previous blogs on this parashah!

Did you know? — Lone Soldier

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3 Comments on “Making Our Own God”

  1. I loved what you said about loving our God and if we need to stand for what is right; will we? Is it that we are afraid, ashamed, or we don’t want to be different?
    I don’t ever want to be shamed by God.
    I hope I will always stand for what is right and not be guided by fear.

  2. What a compassionate, humble, and godly response to the comment on your video, which shows a heart toward God like Moshe.

    It IS difficult to figure out the whole situation. In general, wars are used to enrich certain people and to control others. As I question what really happened here in the U. S. on September 11, 2001, I also question what happened in Israel on October 7, 2023, as I have also heard from a soldier who was there on site a few hours after the breach.

    I do not support Israel because I believe in, trust, or have confidence in Israel’s political leaders. (I don’t. My distrust of politicians is global.)

    I do not support Israel because the majority of Jewish people or the majority of Israelis are currently honoring God’s Word and God’s standards or promoting true righteousness. (They aren’t – think of all the atheists, the promotion of homosexuality/transgender ideology, the various religious groups in Judaism, those who follow Kabbalah, rabbinic Judaism that writes its own ideas and puts them above scripture, the eastern mysticism prevalent among many Jews…)

    I do not support Israel because of how many Jewish people here in America act or the things they participate in and promote, including some I know personally.

    I support Israel because I believe in the God of Israel who keeps His word and will fulfill His promises despite the unfaithfulness, rebellion, and wavering of His people. I believe in the God who chose Israel, not because of their greatness, but to show His greatness, love, and faithfulness.

  3. Thank you for this, Moran. The babble of voices is hard for many to sort out, even some who want to support Israel, but don’t know what to make of the things that are being said by many.

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