7 Similarities Between Contemporary Worship and the Golden Calf Worship

And [Aaron] received the gold from their hand and fashioned it with a graving tool and made a golden calf. And they said, ‘These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!’ When Aaron saw this, he built an altar before it. And Aaron made proclamation and said, ‘Tomorrow shall be a feast to the LORD.’ And they rose up early the next day and offered burnt offerings and brought peace offerings. And the people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play… When Joshua heard the noise of the people as they shouted, he said to Moses, ‘There is a noise of war in the camp. But he said, ‘It is not the sound of shouting for victory, or the sound of the cry of defeat, but the sound of singing that I hear.’ And as soon as he came near the camp and saw the calf and the dancing, Moses’ anger burned hot, and he threw the tablets out of his hands and broke them at the foot of the mountain (Exod 32:4-6, 17-19, emphasis added).

pagan-contemporary worship

1. Instantly gratifying: The people were impatient with Moses’ delay. Can’t wait for the Praise and Worship party, fun and revelry to begin.
2. Idolatrous: The people worshiped another god alongside the true God. Worshiping the worship team or other church celebrities.
3. Sincere: The people sincerely believed that they were worshiping the true God. Very few know who God is or who Jesus is, and most other Biblical doctrines. If they’re not worshiping the God of the Bible, then it’s idolatry.
4. Worldly: From where did they get the idea of worshiping a golden calf and indulging in sexual revelry? From the Egyptians and Canaanites. From where did they get “contemporary” worship music and practices? From the celebrity and entertainment world.
5. Creative: New idol, new leader, new “celebration.” Always on the lookout for new songs, new innovations, even new teachings.
6. Disorderly: Like the noise of war. Worship where everyone does what is right in his own eyes.
7. Pagan and sensual: “Rose up to play” (KJV, NASB, ESV) has sexual overtones. The Hebrew verb “play” variously means “to sport, play, make sport, toy with, make a toy of.” Genesis 26:8-9 says that Abimelech “saw Isaac laughing with Rebekah his wife” (ESV). Various translations say Isaac was “caressing” (Holman, NASB, NIV), and even “fondling” (NLT, NRSV) Rebekah. This is why other translations use “indulge in revelry” (NIV), “pagan revelry” (NLT), “revel” (NRSV, Holman), and “orgy” (God’s WORD) for Israel’s pagan worship. A Bible commentary interprets this worship as “with lascivious dancing, singing, and drumming round the calf.” Paul makes clear that the Israelites’ golden calf worship involved pagan sexual revelry (1 Cor 10:6-8). See this for yourself in most evangelical churches.


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