Little God of Gold

Exodus 33- Leviticus 13

“All that the Lord hath said we will do”, said the children of Israel. But then within 40 days, they were worshipping a golden calf; an idol; a false god. Right after a spiritual high, they went into a spiritual crater. This story is repeated throughout scriptures in the story of Elijah, and Peter, and many others. It is repeated in our lives today. May we learn from this and remain vigilant through trials and triumphs. Let us renew our commitment to draw near to God each and every day..

Opening Welcome: Good Morning and Welcome to our members and visitors here at the Sandpoint Seventh-day Adventist Church.

Also Welcome to those who are watching on Youtube, Facebook, or on our brand new Rumble

Channel, and a very special welcome to those tuning into our local North Idaho radio station 97.7. Broadcasting right here from Beautiful Sandpoint in North Idaho. Of course if you’re in the area we always welcome an in-person visit —  Saturday mornings at 10:50am — The address is 2235 Pine Street in Sandpoint Idaho. ___________________________________________

Before we begin our message this morning, straight from the book of Exodus, will you join me in bowing your head as I invite God’s Spirit to bless our time together? [PRAYER]

Sermon Introduction:  

This morning we open our story from the Bible to an absolute shocker — Why is today’s sermon story so shocking? Because it reveals God’s people abandoning God at the very moment that He is closest to them. It shocking because we can understand what it feels like to walk away from God when God is silent, to turn your back on God when you feel your prayers aren’t being heard, To reject the path of God when all you seem to be facing are trials — But this story reveals the other side of human nature! When the trials dissipate and the will of Good is plain before you, and when you are hearing the voice of the Almighty thunder in your soul, and when the presence and power of God are near — In moments just like this, we find a shocking reality repeated in Bible history over and over again — In moments of success we are in the greatest danger of leaving God.


* Remember the story? You can find it in 1 Kings 18 (We will cover this story in depth in April 2024— “When Fire Fell”. In the story Elijah is bold! He challenges the entire false priests of Jezebel to a public showdown on Mount Carmel. This showdown would display who was the true God of heaven and earth. They would offer dueling sacrifices — one the priests of Baal would offer to Baal, the other Elijah would offer to the God of heaven. The god who answered by fire, was the true God… In an awesome display of brilliance, and power, and thundering supremacy over the false gods of the these priests — Elijah’s God, the true Creator God, sent fire from heaven.

and the Bible says,  

[1Ki 18:38-40 NKJV] 38 Then the fire of the LORD fell and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood and the stones and the dust, and it licked up the water that [was] in the trench. 39 Now when all the people saw [it], they fell on their faces; and they said, “The LORD, He [is] God! The LORD, He [is] God!” 40 And Elijah said to them, “Seize the prophets of Baal! Do not let one of them escape!” So they seized them; and Elijah brought them down to the Brook Kishon and executed them there.”

What an incredible spiritual high! What a moment in time for Elijah… Our mortal minds picture this mighty man of God rising to the place of almost invincible status… Who can defeat such a man of faith, especially in a moment of spiritual strength like this….

BUT…. Immediately after this awesome display look what happens in this man of faith’s life? [1Ki 19:2-3 NKJV] 2 Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, “So let the gods do [to me], and more also, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by tomorrow about this time.” 3 And when he saw [that], he arose and ran for his life…”

Can you believe it — The very man who was willing to so boldly risk his life in faith and spiritual triumph over the prophets of Baal, is running for his life the very next day from a deranged queen…

The moment of His Spiritual climax, was immediately followed by the moment of his spiritual crater!  


Peter, the prince of apostles — The one who so valiantly walked on water when Jesus called him out of a boat in the midst of the storm couldn’t have been closer to Christ than at the last supper. So sure was Peter of his relationship with Christ he could boldly and publicly proclaim:

[Mat 26:33-35 NKJV] 33 Peter answered and said to Him, “Even if all are made to stumble because of You, I will never be made to stumble.” 34 Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you that this night, before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” 35 Peter said to Him, “Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You!” And so said all the disciples.

but the moment of spiritual climax for Peter, was followed by the lowest spiritual moment in Peter’s life when He not only denied Jesus before others, He did it with the swears of coldblooded sailor.

This pattern in scripture is rampant — Success with the Lord is great, Spiritual highs should be sought after, We want to be close to the Lord and hear His voice, but there is danger I want you to see when we are awestruck in the presence of God. We are going to label that danger in a moment

Let’s turn now to  


Before we describe the spiritual low — let’s take a brief moment to take in the backdrop of the spiritual high of this incredible moment for Israel.

They have traversed through the Red Sea (What a breath-taking challenge that was to their faith) But God miraculously delivered them, and destroyed all the Egyptian army in the very riverbed that their feet had marched across.

We read in Exodus that they people were thirsty in the desert — they found water but it was bitter, and they cried out to the Lord… A spiritual challenge for sure, and we read how God provided for them.

We read how Israel then finds themselves hungry and running low on food, and again they cry out to the Lord — Another spiritual challenge, and we read that God rains Manna from heaven to feed them.

and after some time of being given food and water, daily being led by God they find themselves being led to valley that lies at the base of Mount Sinai and there the people spiritual experience hits an awesome high!

They are told to prepare themselves to meet the Lord… Can you even imagine!?  

[Show Pillar of Fire on the Screen] You show up to church, there is a pillar of fire blazing above this church building as you pull into the parking lot… And as you walk into the church, awestruck by what you’ve just seen outside, I tell you and the entire congregation that I’ve just heard a message from God and He will be present, in this very church building to meet with you all next Sabbath, but you need to prepare to meet Him, because this will be an awesome experience… What do we need to do to prepare to meet with God — The Bible actually lists the steps they were to follow before meeting with God

  1. The first thing you need to do is go home and shower, then wash your clothes. A clean outside is a symbol for a clean inside.

[Exo 19:10-11 NKJV] 10 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow, and let them wash their clothes. 11 “And let them be ready for the third day. For on the third day the LORD will come down upon Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people.

  1. Next you need to make sure you resolve your conflicts first at home and then with others outside your home before meeting with God. Jesus said:

[Mat 5:23-24 NKJV] 23 “Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 “leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.

So you do the needed preparation — You shower, you wash your clothes, and you make sure that your heart is right with God and others. You’re ready to the meet the Lord. This is more important than dinner with the most famous, most wealthy, most powerful, most star-struck individual on your list — You are meeting with GOD… A day you will never forget, as long as you live!

[Show Pillar of Fire on the Screen] So you show up to church, and there is that pillar of fire burning bright over the church, and as you come inside the time has come. We gather together in the Sanctuary, we kneel in honor of our King and in reverence to His majesty. [Play Earthquake Sound] And the church begins to shake, [Live Trumpet Sounds Long and Loud] and trumpets begin to blow — Louder and Louder and Louder and suddenly the voice of God speaks:

[Exo 20:2-3 NKJV] 2 “I [am] the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. 3 “You shall have no other gods before Me.

[All Sounds Go Silent]

and in the most amazing display you hear the actual voice of God thundering in full power speaking not only to your ears, but that voice finds its way through you and resonates into your very heart in an unforgettable moment. I’m sure every person in this room, experiencing this experience with God, hearing His audible voice, would say — This is the highest spiritual moment of my entire life! How could you not also proclaim with all the people of God:

[Exo 24:4 NKJV] 3 … And all the people answered with one voice and said, “All the words which the LORD has said we will do.” 4 And Moses wrote all the words of the LORD…” This moment is unforgettable — and I’d also like to emphasize that these weren’t new commandments which God spoke to the people. They didn’t hear it once, “You shall have no other Gods”, or “You shall not make an idol” or “Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy”…

They already knew these commandments. They already knew that:

  1. There was no God but God

This had been demonstrated over and over and over again in God’s miraculous dealings with them in Egypt and now in the Wilderness.

  1. They already knew that they were to avoid idolatry and that idols were false gods

They had seen the plagues fall in Egypt and how powerless the gods of the egyptians were to stop those plagues or help their pagan worshippers.

  1. They already knew that the Sabbath was on Saturday, was to be kept holy as a day of worship, and represented God’s day for rest.

All the way back in Exodus 16 (Four chapters before the ten commandments were given) the

Bible says:

[Exo 16:23 NKJV] 23… “This [is what] the LORD has said: ‘Tomorrow [is] a Sabbath rest, a holy Sabbath to the LORD. Bake what you will bake [today], and boil what you will boil; and lay up for yourselves all that remains, to be kept until morning.’ “

God’s people would have known the Sabbath was on Saturday, because God names the Sabbath the day before they were to keep it. It was a day to be kept holy as a day of worship to the Lord every Saturday. The Lord had said in the Ten Commandments, “Remember the Sabbath day to KEEP it holy”

So they knew it… They knew God’s law and the Sabbath before God spoke it to them on the mountain. In fact, I believe that the whole experience of meeting with God was not to teach them something new, but to permanently imbed this law into their minds and hearts forever.

And this is what the Lord wants to do in our day as well:

[Heb 10:16 NKJV] 16 “This [is] the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the LORD: I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds I will write them,”

Now, what happens from this point? The Bible tells us that Moses goes up on the mountain to meet with the Lord, and stays there for just over one month (40 days). Meanwhile God’s people are waiting at the bottom of the mountain, and every day they expect Moses to come down and burst out of the dark cloud that covers the summit. But He doesn’t come as quickly as they expect…

and the Bible says, at the end of that short 40 days, after an experience as high as God’s people had with God — They do the unthinkable.

Here it is from the Bible:

[Exo 32:1 NKJV] 1 Now when the people saw that Moses delayed coming down from the mountain, the people gathered together to Aaron, and said to him, “Come, 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.”

The moment of their Spiritual climax, was immediately followed by the moment of their spiritual crater! They crashed and burned in a blazing display of unfaithfulness and rebellion. While the Pillar of Fire is still before them on the mountain — Israel chooses another god, makes an idol of this god, and then commissions a day of worship for this god.

and the shocking question that comes to our mind is Why? Why would a people so favored by God, in this moment of glory, and of peace, and prosperity and quietness — leave the Lord?  

[1Pe 5:8 NLT] 8 Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.

You will find in scripture, and in the testimony of your own life, that often when your feeling strong, and safe, and your fresh off of a victory or just coming from a spiritual high that your guard drops, your dependence on the Lord wains a bit because you do not sense your weaknesses as strong, and it is then that the devil finds an avenue to your heart.

When you’re persecuted or going through trials, or facing tribulations — You sense your need of the Lord, You cry out to Him for help, You seek Him with earnestness in your prayers, You devour His word for answers, You call together family and friends to pray for you, and you extend your faith as far as you dare in the struggle… (I think this is why God allows us to face difficulties so often). But when the persecutions abate, and the trials of life lull, and you aren’t feeling the breathe of the dragon breathing down your back every second, and life seems to have leveled off and you finally get peace, and you feel that the Lord is near, and like Israel you stand at the base of the mountain of God and gaze at His glory — OFTEN, OFTEN, OFTEN We forget that we are still weak, still in need of strength from the Lord, Still men and women who are prone to sin and an easy prey to temptation at every moment… We forget that our only strength is in the Lord… and in our self reliance and ease, our guard begins to fall, and complacency and the pleasures of life begin to creep in:  

We first neglect daily prayer  

We slack off of reading God’s Word

We begin to take a Sabbath to ourselves. We skip church this week, then find another excuse next week, always saying to ourselves “I’ll come back next week, next month — when things change in my life, or change at the church”

And gradually friends, the devil begins to shift our focus away from God and replaces it with the modern day idols of life: Not necessarily bad things at first — Cooking, Cleaning, Work, Friends, Projects, Social Media, News, Movies, Hobbies, Vacations, Politics — and within a month He can take you from your Spiritual High straight down to your spiritual low.

[Mat 24:38-39 NKJV] 38 “For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, 39 “and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.

In the last days people will be doing ordinary things: eating, drinking, marrying, giving in marriage — But whenever things, even good things, or people, even good people, take the place of God as our prirority, we are setting the stage for a life of modern day idolatry. Jesus is making the point that at the end of time, common things will take the place of watching and preparing for the soon coming of Jesus! 120 years Noah preached that a flood was coming,

and the people did nothing to prepare for it… It’s a warning to us!

Again Jesus gives a parable about this very danger that is present when we experience spiritual or material success — when the trials die down and we aren’t fighting the battles of


[Luk 12:16-21 NKJV] 16 Then He spoke a parable to them, saying: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded plentifully. 17 “And he [the rich man] thought within himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no room to store my crops?’ 18 “So he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and my goods. 19 ‘And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, [and] be merry.” ‘ 20 “But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?’ 21 “So [is] he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.

What is the point of the parable? Not that we shouldn’t build bigger barns when we need them, Not that we shouldn’t rejoice when God blesses us with success (spiritual or material), or that we shouldn’t have periods of rest (It was Jesus who said, come unto Me all you who labor. I will give you rest.)… The point is that when we find ourselves on the MOUNTAIN OF GLORY, that we don’t forget our priority to the KING OF GLORY who brought us there!

It doesn’t say it, but we can assume it, that when Moses ascended up the mountain to spend forty days with God, Israel returned to their tents and spent forty days without God. When Moses was praying and seeking God’s face, Israel was sleeping and seeking their ease. When

Moses was searching more deeply into the law of God, Israel was daily neglecting to study God’s law… They weren’t in Canaan yet! This was not the time to kick back and catch some needed Zzzz’s spiritually… They were still in the wilderness and if they had thought about it, they would have remembered that they still had a journey with many challenges ahead. They needed the Lord. and I wonder to myself if Israel kept the Sabbath those forty days? Did they gather and worship together at the Sanctuary, singing songs of praise before the burning pillar of fire they witnessed each day on the mountain? Did they remember to keep the Sabbath holy  and gather to meditate on the word of God together on God’s special day?

I know it’s just a guess, because the Bible doesn’t explicitly say it — But had Israel gathered together for corporate worship of the Lord those six Sabbaths that Moses was on the mountain. Had they sung together of His mercy and grace — had they prayed together, and sought His face — Had they listened to the weekly reminders of the promised land in their Sabbath sermons — Had they spent time as individuals and families in prayer during the week — Had Israel meditated on their experience with God at the mountain, in hearing His voice and thought of His power to deliver them into the promised land… Had they kept their experience with the Lord FRESH before them…

I don’t think we would have a golden calf story in the Bible. I think that the colossal failure of God’s people after 40 days, is a simple reminder to us that no matter what we are facing in life right now — Tribulations or Triumphs, Victories or Defeats — In whatever position we are in, we are just as dependent upon the Lord then, and in need of His help and strength, than at any other time.

The instructions of the Lord to seek Him with all our hearts is not just instructions for difficult times, or easy times, those instructions are for all times!

[Heb 10:24-25 NKJV] 24 And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, 25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as [is] the manner of some, but exhorting [one another], and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.

May I encourage you that

  1. Church is needed not just in hard times, but all times
  2. Personal worship is needed not just in hard times, but all times
  3. Family worships are needed not just in hard times, but all times
  4. Seeking the Lord personally, and meditating on His promises and His will for your life is not just a once in a while activity (it’s not even just a Sabbath activity) — but needs to be a regular activity.

Friends, the Golden Calf isn’t far from your door. It’s waiting just outside your house — and if in your spiritual or material high you forget how weak you are, and you forget your commitment and need of the Lord, and you neglect coming to Him for spiritual strength, that golden calf will find it’s way back into your life as well — It could happen in as little as 40 days!

Appeal: Today I’m asking for a renewed commitment to read the Bible through in a year — Day by day, and week by week to make a commitment to joining God’s people for corporate worship of the Lord each Sabbath.

Reading the Bible together, Studying it in our Dive Deeper lessons, Coming together for worship each Sabbath — Friends, if you commit to this practice in 2024 you are not only safeguarding your soul, you are preparing your own family for whatever stands between us and heaven.

I’m not asking for much, but I am asking for a renewed commitment to the Bible in a Year… Before next Sabbath we will be 40 days into our Bible in a Year program… Don’t let 40 days pass friends and not make this recommitment. Put God first in 2024!

Will you raise your hand to recommit today? If you’re watching online, will you share your commitment in the comment section — Let us know where you are reading in the Bible, I read the comments and am excited to hear where you are in your journey.

[ Prayer ]

Next Sabbath is Pathfinder Sabbath — and I will be pausing in our sermon series to let one of our Pathfinder youth give the message. But you can continue to Dive Deeper in our weekly Bible story focus by studying from the Dive Deeper study guides that are completely free online —

We also welcome you to stay for our fellowship meal today, we have a fellowship meal each

Sabbath and you are welcome to eat with us in our fellowship hall.

Thank you for joining us friends — We will see you next Sabbath 10:50am.