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" Idolatry in the Sanctuary "
    "I am Jehovah your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before Me. You shall not make for yourself a graven image, or any likeness of anything in the heavens above, or in the earth beneath, or in the waters under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them; for I, Jehovah your God, am a jealous Mighty God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the sons to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing goodness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments. You shall not take the name of Jehovah your God in vain, for Jehovah will not leave unpunished one who takes His name in vain." (Ex20:2-7)
IMAGINE THIS SCENARIO FOR A MOMENT: A couple has gotten to know each other, they have made plans together for their future, they conclude and agree together in terms of the things they hold dear in life, they want to spend the rest of their lives together, they have purchased a house they plan to make their home and have furnished it, they pledge their love and fidelity to each other...

AND THEN, on the day after their wedding night while the husband is out gassing up and bringing the car around to take his new bride on their honeymoon, while he is out those few minutes, the new bride goes out quickly and finds another man, and when the husband returns to escort his bride to the car, he finds her in the act, with another man...



God has just rescued Israel out of bondage in Egypt. Now, God has just made a covenant with Israel, given them His Law. In ch20 is the Ten Commandments. ch21-23 contains the essentials of the moral codes; how people should interact with each other, how to treat slaves, and such things. The details of the overall universal laws...

    "And as you would have men do to you, you also do likewise to them." (Lk6:31)
and also...
    "..you shall love your neighbor as yourself" (Le19:18)
All those basics are in Exodus ch21-23. Certainly Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy expand on these, but these are the root and core. For basic human living, apart from details regarding temple service, these are the essentials.

And so in ch24 God invites the Elders of Israel to the mountain. They kill the sacrifices, build an altar. Moses takes the blood and sprinkles the book of the Law, the altar, the sacrifices, and the people. This is a passage people don't often read. But this, right here, the first few verses of Exodus ch24 is the 'wedding' where God and the people of Israel pledge the covenant. God says: These are the standards. And the people promise...

    "And all the people answered with one voice and said, All the words which Jehovah has spoken we will do... And he took the Book of the Covenant and read in the ears of the people. And they said, All that Jehovah has spoken we will do and obey. And Moses took the blood, sprinkled it on the people, and said, This is the blood of the covenant which Jehovah has made with you according to all these words." (Ex24:3,7-8)
And then, as weddings are often conducted: after the pledges have been exchanged, the couple becomes husband and wife; they "know" each other. In similar fashion, God invites the Elders of Israel part way up the mountain, and they -eat- of the sacrifices, IN THE VIEW OF GOD. It says
    "and they SAW THE GOD OF ISRAEL. And there was under His feet as it were a paved work of sapphire stone, and it was like the essence of the heavens in its clarity. And He did not let loose His hand against the nobles of the children of Israel. And THEY SAW GOD, and they ate and drank." (24:10-11)
Is not a Sanctuary a -holy- place. A place set apart. When we think of Church or Temples, the "sanctuary" is the place where people gather symbolically, spiritually, IN GOD's PRESENCE. Well, in this case it was not only 'symbolic'...THEY actually -SAW- GOD.

So now, God calls Moses up into the mountain to receive all the laws and patterns for the tabernacle, and objects and utensils for worship. That's chapters 25-31. But as Moses leaves, he says to them...

    "Wait here for us until we return to you." (24:14)
And then it says...
    "a cloud covered the mountain. And the glory of Jehovah settled down upon Mount Sinai...The appearance of the glory of Jehovah was like a consuming fire on the top of the mountain before the eyes of the children of Israel." (vs15-17)
Where was the "here" that they were to wait? Was it the place where the elders saw God? ...where they sat to eat? Or did it mean, generically, the outer bounds of the mountain...the vicinity where Israel was camped out? Whatever the case: the -cloud- of God's presence is still visible. And it describes the view of God as a "consuming fire". The elders have just SEEN GOD, the glory of God's presence is still there, Moses has said to "wait here" till we get back. ("we" because Joshua accompanied Moses vs13) So there is no question in the minds of the people 'where' Moses is, and 'Who' he is with. And with the cloud covering the mountain, it is clear that God hasn't left. He is still there. And they, Israel, are in God's -sanctuary-... God's 'presence'.
    "Now when the people saw that Moses delayed coming down from the mountain, the people gathered together to Aaron, and said to him, Arise, make us gods that shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him." (Ex32:1)
40 days! That's all it took, and Israel is lusting for somebody -else- in the wedding bed. The "wedding bed"? In case there is doubt regarding this symbolic association...
    "For your Maker is your husband; Jehovah of Hosts is His name; and your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel." (Is54:5)
So where was Aaron, their assistant pastor? Did he stand up "in the gap" for God to correct the people? (Ezk22:30) No! Instead... after fashioning their gold into a calf, he proclaims...
    "This is your god, O Israel, that brought you up out of the land of Egypt! And when Aaron saw it, he built an altar before it. And Aaron made a proclamation and said, Tomorrow is a feast UNTO JEHOVAH. And they arose early the next day, offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play." (Ex32:4-6)
This reminds of the incident of "Micah's Idols" [link] where he had stolen silver from his mother, and when he returns it, his mother has dedicated the money "unto Jehovah" (Jdg17:3), has a molten image made from it, and that is the beginning of idolatry in the tribe of Dan. Idolatry UNTO JEHOVAH! (as that study says: Here, have some beet casserole, and let's toast each other with beet cocktail)

Here, Israel HAS CHURCH, offers sacrifices to the golden calf, wines and dines, and gets up to dance. A regular night club of festivities and debauchery. Some translations say they were "naked" (32:25kjv) The text actually says they were unrestrained, running loose, running wild. It must have been like that summer night (2-3 am) beer party about a year ago, about a block away from my house, with who-knows-how-many dozens of people... laughing, screaming, shouting, the kind of giggling suggestive of lewd conduct...reverberating through the neighborhood.

Well... surely the Church doesn't do this? What do you suppose the decorum and conduct in typical charismatic churches is? They "let go" and "let loose" (in the spirit), and wiggle sensuously to the rock music, as many of them (particularly the goddess females) often come half-dressed. And charismania has pretty much spread to 'all' the rest of the denominations in terms of their so-called "worship". Several years ago we observed the indecencies of the choir from my Alma Mater Bible college in Portland, OR as they had Hawaiian Hula dancing, Regae/Rock music, the females shaking their bodies in the same way the world parties, and at the end the audience was invited to stand up and "dance with" them. [link] A subscriber who moved to the Seattle area shared how his children were not allowed to sit with them in the 'sanctuary' of this one church they intended to visit, because of "adult content". Or like the Chuck Missler meeting I attended years ago where the woman in the bluegrass band was dancing like a stripper, only with her clothes on. [link] And even the world occasionally takes note to -question- in documentaries about "dance" in church, as they showed (on the program I saw) the dancer on platform elevated from the audience, doing ballet spins with raised leg, etc. What's wrong with that? you ask? At the very beginning, after the Ten Commandments are given, God explains the standards by which sacrifices are to be made, and includes this closing remark...

    "Nor shall you go up by steps to My altar, that your nakedness may not be exposed on it." (Ex20:26)
YES...TODAY's "church" DOES DO -EXACTLY- AS ISRAEL DID! Might not be a golden calf, but they revel in "prosperity theology", and then "get up to play". And this debauchery has gotten so far out of hand that, somehow, any prior discussions of having crosses, fish, doves, flames or other -objects- (images) such as statues and pictures (of Mary or Jesus or any one of the 'saints') in church, or on the steeples, almost seems like a non-issue, by comparison.

The question was asked: What is the husband to do?

Well...when Moses saw what was going on, he smashed the tablets on which God had personally engraved the Law. God speaks to Moses of totally wiping Israel off the map, and making a nation of Moses. This has been discussed in the past. [link] But he grinds up the calf, spreads the dust on the drinking water, and makes the people drink, and the Levites put on their swords, and there is a slaughter of the guilty. In later years when Israel insists on engaging in idolatry and worshipping the Queen of Heaven (Jer42-44), God sends them into exile. And due to their rejection of Messiah, they have experienced nearly 2000 years of "diaspora".

Remember, God is a "JEALOUS MIGHTY GOD"

They've just witnessed wonders in Egypt. They are being fed manna from Heaven (Ex16:15,31) They have just seen God and lived. The cloud/smoke is -still- covering the mountain, thus they know God is STILL THERE. They promised not to have any other gods. They are WITHOUT EXCUSE!

Well...the 'family' has had problems with idolatry even before Moses. We can't blame it all on the "mixed multitude". (Ex12:38) Remember how Rachel stole Laben's idols. (Gen31:19,32-34) As Jacob's family gets ready to go to Bethel to offer sacrifices to God, Jacob tells his family to "put away the foreign gods that are among you". They give them to Jacob, and instead of destroying them, Jacob -hides- them in Shechem. (Gen35:1-4) "Hiding" indicates that a person knows where they are, to go retrieve them later.

The typical wedding vows, when a couple participates in the tradition of the ceremony ritual, typically include the charge: Do you take so-n-so; FORSAKING ALL OTHERS; to be your spouse?

While Jacob was following God, his family harbored idolatry. In Japan where I grew up, years ago there were statistics as to how much of the population was shinto, how many buddhist, how many sokagakkai, how many this or that; and when the various numbers were added up, it was more than Japan's population. In other words, people held to more than one religion (and its gods); by a ratio, if I remember correctly, of 2:1. Every Japanese person statistically held to two different religions simultaneously. And so then, they would hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ, they would want to -also- embrace "christianity"... along with all the other things.

That's what many try to do today. They want to "make claims" for Jesus, have Him "go along-side" and 'bless' their way, while they continue the lives they've been living, without rejecting and forsaking their sin. That is idolatry. It is not repentance. Biblical repentance...

    "He who covers his sins shall not prosper; but he who confesses and forsakes them shall have mercy." (Pr28:13)
A person who refuses to forsake sin, by definition is not repentant, and by definition is NOT SAVED. As Paul says about Israel...
    "Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be ignorant, that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and all were immersed into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank out of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ. But with most of them God was not well pleased, for they were scattered in the wilderness." (1Co10:1-5)
And also...
    "For not all those of Israel are Israel" (Rom9:6b)
They were -in- the 'sanctuary', but were clinging to their pagan lives as they had learned in Egypt, and as brought along by the "mixed multitude" (Ex12:38, Nu11:4) If they whined to Aaron, and made the golden calf, the rebellion was in their hearts before they acted.
    "For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, sexual perversions, thefts, false witness, blasphemies." (Mt15:19)
They made promises to God (all that God commands we will do); but it was a lie, because IN THEIR HEARTS they were not repentant of their sin. They wanted to have it both ways. When things were not 'happening' and 'snapping' in spectacular (miraculous) fashion: Where is God? Where is "this Moses"? (32:1) The same expression they use regarding Jesus Christ: Israel today scoffs in unbelief about "this man".

What was so great about Moses? He was great enough that the record goes into detail to explain just exactly -who- Moses was.

    "These were the ones who spoke to Pharaoh king of Egypt, to bring out the children of Israel from Egypt. THESE WERE THE SAME MOSES AND AARON." (Ex6:16-27)
Moses was the person who would go into the tent of meeting and converse with God "face to face" (Ex33:11) And sometimes after he had been in God's presence, and would come back out to the people his face shone with the brilliance of God's presence. (Ex34:29-35)

So, when Moses told the people to "wait here until we return", he was God's direct representative. Later when Aaron and Miriam would object to (little brother) Moses' authority, God would judge Miriam with leprosy, and proclaim,

    "Hear now My words: If there is a prophet among you, I, Jehovah, reveal Myself to him in a vision; I speak to him in a dream. Not so with My servant Moses! He is faithful in all My house. I speak with him mouth to mouth, even by appearance, and not in riddles; and he looks upon the form of Jehovah. Why then were you not afraid to speak against My servant Moses?" (Nu12:6-8)
When Moses spoke, it was as if God was speaking, as God said of the relationship between Moses and Aaron,
    "And [Aaron] shall speak for you to the people. And he shall be as a mouth for you, and you shall be to him as God." (Ex4:16)
As God would say later of Ezekiel...
    "As for them, whether they hear or whether they forbear; for they are a rebellious house; yet they will know that a prophet has been among them." (Ezk2:5)
Moses says... Wait here until I come back (with God's laws and further directives). Wait here IN GOD's PRESENCE....God's Sanctuary. (I'll only be a few minutes while I gas up the car and bring it around-front) Moses returns to find them IN BED, committing adultery. Strong language?
    "Adulterers and adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore purposes to be a friend of the world is shown to be opposing God." (Ja4:4)
Jesus gave His disciples the exhortation...
    "And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And where I go you know, and the way you know....If you love Me, keep My commandments" (Jn14:3-4,15)
And so the exhortation to True Believers is...
    "Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him PURIFIES HIMSELF, just as He is pure... Whoever abides in Him does not sin. Everyone who sins has not seen Him nor known Him... Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and it is not his nature to sin, because he has been born of God." (1Jn3:2-3,6,9)
So... This is to True Christians, now...

We are the "temple of the Holy Spirit who is in [us]" (1Co6:19, 3:17, Ro8:9); as such, we might even say we are God's sanctuary. His "holy people" (Eph1:4,5:27, 1Pt1:16) When Moses went up into the mountain God's sanctuary was next to a mountain; the tabernacle had not yet been built. We might speak of physical objects such as idols in a (so-called) "house of worship". But God's sanctuary is not about sitting in a building -feeling- "holy". Inasmuch as the Holy Spirit is 'in' the Believer, the Believer is part-and-parcel of God's holy presence... His sanctuary... His holy place. As Jesus said...

    "that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made complete in one, and that the world may know that You sent Me, and love them as You love Me." (Jn17:21-23)
As such, we are not to harbor any idolatry within us.
    "The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. Let us walk decently, as in the day, not in carousings and drunkenness, not in cohabitation and licentiousness, not in strife and envy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts." (Rom13:12-14)
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