They have made themselves gods of gold. Please forgive their sin. Exodus 32:31-32  

Take care, brothers and sisters, that none of you may have an evil, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But exhort one another every day. Hebrews 3;12-13  

We are in the holiday season of the year. Family gatherings, food, presents. A time for thanksgiving at the end of November, and then on to preparations for Christmas and coming of Jesus into the world. Unfortunately, we often aren’t focused on Christmas itself, but on all the trappings. Loads of commercials exhorting us to buy more stuff. Having to buy that one special toy. Arguments as to which part of the family hosts Christmas celebrations. In one job I used to have, one big drunken party on a Friday afternoon before Christmas, certainly without thought of why we have a Christmas to celebrate. Maybe we too have a problem with idols, or gods of  gold.   

The words from Exodus are spoken by Moses. He has just spent time up on Mount Sinai, talking with God, and being given two stone tablets with the Ten Commandments on them. He is bringing God’s word back to the people who are waiting. Are they waiting patiently? Uh, that would be no. They have made a calf from gold and are happily worshiping and bringing sacrifices to this piece of metal. Moses returns and is appalled. Here he has just spoken with the real, living God and they are dancing around a hunk of gold. He thinks God will never forgive this. Moses goes to plead with God. He offers to himself be written out of God’s book if God will spare the people. He pleads for forgiveness to a God that really can listen. Even to those that worship idols for a while, but then return.   

The writer of Hebrews is concerned about this too. He wants to make sure his readers continue to follow the true God, their Creator, the living God. We are all told to exhort, to encourage one another daily. It is easy to be tempted when the whole crowd is busy worshipping idols. We often need encouragement to remember to listen for God’s voice amidst all the noise of the world. To remember that we celebrate at Christmas because Jesus came into our world as our Savior. We can be assured of the forgiveness of our sins, through the grace of God.   

Living God, protect us from the gods of silver and gold that we pursue. Forgive our sin. Lead us away from these and other temptations. Holy God, your forgiveness is overwhelming to receive – our gratitude overflows.  Then, today, show us who to encourage, who to build up, who to share your word with. In Jesus’ name, Amen.  

Chris Gabel