Misplaced Ahava

It's Golden Calf week. Aside from the Creation account, the Golden Calf incident is probably the most well known tale from the writings of Moses and we've seen it depicted in the Ten Commandments movie. Two months ago I saw a gold nativity set complete with--you guessed it--a golden cow. Can you even?! Some people who purposely serve beef on Shabbat this week. Is this hilarious or horrifying? I can't decide.

The Golden Calf Torah Portion is one of the most dramatic and significant parts of Scripture. Usually this is presented to us as a willful rebellion against YHWH, the Israelites purposefully breaking the Covenant. But I'm not sure that's what they intended.

And when Aharon saw the golden calf, he built an altar before it; and Aharon made a proclamation, and said "Tomorrow is a moed to YHWH." -Shemot 32:5

Hosea 9:10 - Misplaced love | Land of Honey
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Moshe had been gone a long time and the people started to get nervous. Aharon made a graven image and announced they would worship YHWH with it. Scripture indicates that the Israelites had every intention of continuing to worship YHWH, but this good intention was a great abomination. Why? YHWH expressly prohibited carving the likeness of anything that He created some twelve chapters earlier in Exodus 20:4. By shaping a cow out of gold the Israelites were in clear violation of the Covenant, but they still meant to worship YHWH.

Why does YHWH have a problem with carved images of creation? This is how the Egyptians worshiped the demonic entities they believed to be gods. The sphinxes, tombs, statues of pharaohs, and occult symbols--those legendary architectural achievements--were used to worship false gods. Who built them? The Israelite slaves.

Shemot 1:13 says the Israelites worked with bricks and mortar. They built up the pagan society of Egypt, likely building homes, palaces, graineries, and temples as well as the famous occult symbols of the land. So when they made a golden cow, they were just doing what they knew. As much as they may have desired freedom the Israelites harbored a certain amount of love for the only land they had ever known. They missed the food, and many audibly expressed that they wished they had stayed there for the rest of their lives. The calf wasn't built because they didn't love YHWH, but because they also loved Egypt.

Their abominations were a result of their misplaced ahava. -Hosea 9:10b

The Israelites committed the abomination of the golden calf by misplacing their love. That is a scary idea. Love is a buzzword in mainstream religion and their answer is usually, "just love" in response to any sort of difficulty or challenge. I don't want to disregard love at all because it is a fruit of the Spirit, but Scripture also says there are certain things we shouldn't love (such as things of this world) and sadly we have all seen women get hurt when they misplace their love in a man who doesn't reciprocate or is abusive. Bad things happen when love is misplaced. And we can misplace our love when it comes to serving YHWH.

YHWH desires to be worshiped in very specific ways. It is not okay to mix in tradition, man's doctrines, or church beliefs, even if we mean well. The Israelites meant well when they mixed in pagan Egyptian traditions into their worship of YHWH, and broke the Covenant. YHWH was so angry He was ready to wipe them out entirely, but Moshe successfully interceded on their behalf. When we disregard YHWH's instructions we end up building an evil and pagan culture.

I think that's why the Israelites pleaded to YHWH to help when they were enslaved. Not just because the physical burden of slavery was harsh (though it obviously was), but also because the Egyptians had forced them to build up something against YHWH. I think that was the worst part of their slavery. If you've read this far, I'm guessing you don't want to build something against YHWH either. That's why it's so important that we keep the commandments and do what He says. Things like keeping Shabbat on the seventh day, eating only what He calls food, and keeping the Feast Days are good places to start. It's not enough to 'mean well' and do whatever we please. That's how the abomination of the golden calf happened. That's how corrupt world systems are forged. Don't misplace your love into traditions or what's relevant. Enough with building things against YHWH.

1 comment:

  1. Amen....Great post, Taylor! I really like this line in particular: "The calf wasn't built because they didn't love YHWH, but because they also loved Egypt."