Moses saw that the people were running wild and that Aaron had let them get out of control and so become a laughingstock to their enemies. So he stood at the entrance to the camp and said, “Whoever is for the Lord, come to me.” And all the Levites rallied to him. Then he said to them, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘Each man strap a sword to his side. Go back and forth through the camp from one end to the other, each killing his brother and friend and neighbor.’” The Levites did as Moses commanded, and that day about three thousand of the people died. Then Moses said, “You have been set apart to the Lord today, for you were against your own sons and brothers, and he has blessed you this day.”
Give Me an Undivided Heart
If you grew up going to Sunday School, you are probably familiar with the story of the Israelites worshiping the golden calf. But the part of the story that doesn’t usually make the children’s Bible lesson is the part about the Levites slaughtering their own people to carry out God’s judgment for their idolatry. It may seem strange to us that God would command the Levites to do such a thing. But, it is a powerful reminder that God takes sin seriously. This particular sin was especially dangerous because it had the potential to lead the entire nation of Israel away from the true God. So, he used the Levites to carry out a just punishment as well as protect the people from a dangerous sin.
It is good for us to hear stories like this from time to time, to ponder what false gods might be making their way into our hearts. What are our golden calves? Who or what do we believe will take care of us? Who or what will bring us joy? Will it be our spouse or our children or our career or our new this, that, or the other thing? If we trust any of these people or things more than God, we are setting them up as idols just as surely as the Israelites did the golden calf.
Thankfully, Jesus lived a perfectly idol-free life. Never was there anyone or anything that he trusted or valued more than his heavenly Father. And, what’s more, he gives his followers credit for that perfect life so that God no longer sees our idolatry. He sees Jesus’ perfection.
So, through Jesus, you and I stand forgiven for our idolatry. May we always put this forgiving God first in our lives.
Give me an undivided heart, that I might follow your will. Amen.