They made a calf in Horeb, and worshipped the molten image. Thus they changed their glory into the similitude of an ox that eateth grass. They forgat God their saviour, which had done great things in Egypt.
The Israelites were willing to make such an exchange. They were willing to trade the Almighty God of the universe for a golden calf they made themselves. It wasn’t even an image of what God would be, just a beast that eats grass, nonthreatening and tame, a servant kind of beast. That’s what God was to them, in a way. They called upon Him to serve them and meet their every desire without truly honoring Him and without a willingness to be obedient and surrendered to Him. They didn’t remember what He was capable of.
Anything we have in place of God diminishes Him to the point we don’t even remember Him anymore. We focus on what we are looking at, and when we stop looking to God, that causes us to think of Him as something that He is not. But we can’t just change God into what we want Him to be. We can’t make a visible image to replace an invisible God. We can’t make a pocket-sized god to replace an infinite God. We can’t change Him to suit ourselves and our purposes when He is an unchangeable and eternal God.
God’s glory shines brighter than the sun. It has to be veiled because we cannot even look upon it. That is how amazing God is. But the Israelites were so distracted by those lesser shiny things. That dim spectacle of a golden statue cannot compare to the everlasting brightness of our great God, but too often we are content to settle for something common and ordinary. We are content to look to something powerless and useless, unwilling to seek out something higher and extraordinary beyond what we can see and touch here on Earth. The glory of God cannot be contained. It cannot be held inside a golden idol. But so often we just want to hold on so tightly to those kinds of things.
So, where is our focus, and what are we worshiping? Is it God alone or something less than that, something of our own making, something we’ve done? So often we want something other than the God of the universe. So often we seek worldly treasure and cling to petty sins and are so distracted by things here that we miss out on something so much more precious. May we truly focus on God and what He is doing. May He capture our attention and our imagination as we seek Him more and more. And may we build a meaningful relationship that will dim the brightness of those shiny idols as we look to God instead.