July 21: 18 Tammuz
Tradition says that it was on this day that Moses destroyed the Golden Calf as recorded in Exodus 32:
So it was, as soon as he came near the camp, that he saw the calf and the dancing. So Moses’ anger became hot, and he cast the tablets out of his hands and broke them at the foot of the mountain. Then he took the calf which they had made, burned it in the fire, and ground it to powder; and he scattered it on the water and made the children of Israel drink it. (Exodus 32:19-20)
Not only did he destroy the calf, but he ground it into powder and made them drink it. Very soon after this, the tribe of Levi went through the camp and executed all those who were guilty of the sin of the Golden Calf. How did they know who was guilty? It’s believed they were identified by swollen bellies as a result of drinking water that had been mixed with the golden powder that had once been the Golden Calf. Later on, this would become what was known as the “trial of bitter waters” (Numbers 5:11-31), given to a woman suspected of adultery, by her husband. In truth, Israel had behaved as an adulterous woman by turning their affections to other lovers – in this case the Golden Calf. As I shared in a previous article, the Golden Calf was, most likely, a mixture of the profane and the holy, mistakenly intended to represent the God of Israel. The byproduct of their transgression was ground into powder, mixed with water for them to drink, which identified and condemned the guilty.
This whole episode, then, is about a woman (Israel) espoused to another (the Almighty) who commits adultery with other lovers, but still wants to remain in her husband’s home to be cared for. The problem with this is that God is jealous. Before this incident, He had told them:
“Each of you, throw away the abominations which are before his eyes, and do not defile yourselves with the idols of Egypt. I am the Lord your God.” (Ezekiel 20:7)
Before they left Egypt, God gave them the opportunity to put away the idols and any other abomination they were holding onto. In essence, He was telling them, “I’m your husband. Quit cavorting with your other lovers.” Obviously, not all took His warning to heart.
So what can we learn from this? First of all we need to recognize that our idols don’t have to be made of gold or be shaped like calves. Idols are those things that we love to hold onto but contain no eternal value; things that keep us from fulfilling our call to be His Bride. Yet at the same time, like Israel, we want our Father to provide for and protect us. That’s why He is alerting us, today, to get rid of these things NOW, while we’re still “in Egypt.” We must rid ourselves of these associations and to commit ourselves to Him, exclusively. Better to deal with this now so that He doesn’t have to address it with us in dramatic fashion, later.
In Revelation 17, there is a woman who is regarded as a harlot. She is also called “woman” but the Greek term for woman insinuates that she is someone’s wife. The harlot of Revelation 17 is married to someone and yet she cavorts with her other lovers, mingling their seed with the seed of her husband. and ends up riding a beast. It’s interesting to compare this with what happened in Exodus 32, including the fact that, due to their impatience with Moses, the children of Israel began to cavort with and worship the image of a beast (calf).
And so the point is that we must not be those who claim to be His wife while, at the same time, love the embrace of other lovers and idols. We should not be those who claim Him as Father and, yet, continue doing the things He says we should have nothing to do with. So let us pray that the Father will help us to identify those things that we need to purge from our lives and our homes, now. Let us do it willingly, because we love Him, so that later on, He doesn’t have to pull them out of our lives in very dramatic fashion. If we go to Him with a pure heart and ask Him to help us, He will do just that. May He enable us and strengthen us to do what needs to be done in our lives so that we can be among those the Bible calls “overcomer.”