“Then Aaron took the gold, melted it down, and molded it into the shape of a calf. When the people saw it, they exclaimed, ‘O Israel, these are the gods who brought you out of the land of Egypt!'” Exodus 32:4 NLT
Rarely are they as good as the real thing. “We have a sub” can spread through a school like a California wildfire. The statement may be followed by an array of negative emotions. Others are ecstatic. They can envision free time and an opportunity to give a difficult time to this person who isn’t their teacher. Being the sub is no easier. Often, the call to fill in comes at the last moment. Then there’s the possibility of being totally unfamiliar with the subject area you are teaching. For some reason, students don’t perceive subs as having authority over them. The sub is not their teacher or normally an employee of the school. While I don’t get to choose my subs, there are some I would. The ones who maintain control of the class, know the disciplinary rules, and actually make the students do the work I’ve left.
God summoned Moses to the peak of Mount Sinai to receive the Ten Commandments as well as other ceremonial laws. After a long absence, the people assumed something had happened to their leader. They beckoned his brother who in turn made them a gold calf and said, “Here is your God.” They chose a substitute-and it couldn’t compare.
All around me, I see people choosing substitutes for God. I even fall into the trap periodically myself, and I’m one of his followers. My substitutes may be bad habits, sinful practices, laziness, or busyness. Anything assuming God’s place.
When I chose a substitute, I’ll be disappointed. That’s what God substitutes do. They promise happiness and fulfillment but don’t deliver. They look good but taste bad. They prance around under the guise of being God-sent but never are. God sent Moses not a golden calf.
Choosing substitutes also guarantees God’s discipline. The Israelites who disobeyed paid the price. Every time I’ve chosen something to replace the real thing, God has lovingly shown me my error and then convinced me by disciplining me like a loving father.
Don’t let substitutes take God’s place of supreme authority in your life.
Prayer: Father, keep our eyes focused on You so we won’t choose substitutes to replace You.
Martin Wiles Hodges, South Carolina, USA