A Study of 1 Tim.2:1—15

Paul begins this section by addressing prayer in public worship <1Tim.2:1-8>, and it should be understood that when the Church meets for worship, it is accessible to all who wish to attend; therefore, it is a public meeting. Now, Paul sets out the principles of faith for which Timothy is to contend with. First, he instructs “that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone” <1 Tim.2:1-2 (NIV)>. When the Church meets for public worship; prayer requests, intercessions and thanksgivings should be made on behalf of all people, especially for rulers and political officials; so that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in a respectful awareness of God, and our responsibility to Him as we live our lives; for “This is good, and pleases God our Savior” <1 Tim.2:3 (NIV)>. It is pleasing to God when His children spend time in prayer to Him, bringing before Him all the concerns that we encounter as we live this life and fight for our faith <cf Acts 2:42>. Secondly, he presents the doctrine of our faith; “For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” <1 Tim.2:5 (NIV); see 1 Cor.8:5-6; cf Acts 17:22-31>. In the situation where Timothy found himself, there were many gods being worshipped by the people, the Christian faith honours only one God, and His Son Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as our sacrifice for sins and is now our mediator or intercessor before His Father in heaven. The fact that Christ is our sacrifice gives Him the entitlement to be our intercessor for He knows the struggles that we face <see Heb.2:14-15>. Finally, the reason for our public worship and prayer is to let all individuals know the love God expressed to humanity, for God our Saviour “wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” <1 Tim.2:14 (NIV); see also Ezek. 18:23, 32; 33:11>. Paul speaks to the fact that he was appointed for this very purpose – as a teacher of the true faith to the Gentiles <1 Tim.2:7>.

So, our public prayer should include all of these thoughts as the Church intercedes for all members of our society – citizens and those in authority; and also, for each other as believers in Christ since we all cope with the battle for our faith.

Paul now continues by addressing the role of women in public worship <1 Tim.2:9-15>, and the content of this section has caused much controversy as to the role of women in the Church [and I do not wish to add to this], so let us look at the background to the difficulty that faced Timothy.

In Paul’s time Ephesus was the principal commercial city of Asia Minor, wealthy, elegant, and licentious (lustful), and the capital of the Ionian Confederacy, which had its treasury in the temple of Diana. The city was once a centre of wealth and a culture of idolatry [source: The Book of Life -System Bible Study- Historical Digest]. The Church in the first century A.D. was restricted to the Roman Empire and possibly concentrated in Asia Minor and consisted of many converted Gentiles [source: The Macmillan Bible Atlas, by Y. Aharoni & M.  Avi-Yonah]. According to Greek legend, the city was founded by Amazons* – mythical female warriors, and was located crosswise the main line of communication between Rome and the east. Merchants and traders flocked to it. From all over Asia Minor pilgrims came to Ephesus to worship. Under Roman influence, the city’s Greek goddess, Artemis, became identified with the Roman Diana [source: National Geographic Society, Bible Times]. Diana (Artemis) was a protectress of youth, especially those of her own sex. Young girls revered the virgin goddess as the guardian of their maiden years. Once a year there was a public festival in her honour at Ephesus, to which all the Ionians who could do so, repaired with their wives and children, bringing costly offerings for Diana and rich presents for the priests. Great gain came to the silversmiths in making and selling small images of the goddess [source: Unger’s Bible Dictionary].  *(You can read more about the Amazons here:

The Churches of Asia Minor not only consisted of Gentile believers but also Jewish believers that had migrated from Jerusalem, and these Jewish believers also had traditions from their Jewish past <see Acts 19:18-19, 35-36>. As head of the family, the husband or father presented the sacrifices and offerings on behalf of the entire family; and in the New Testament times Jewish women were not allowed to enter the Inner Court of the Temple, nor were they allowed to read or speak in the synagogue. However, a different picture unfolds in the early Christian Church; Christ, in His earthly ministry encouraged women to accompany Him and to be taught by Him; they also assembled with His disciples when they met together for prayer and communion [source: Manners and Customs of The Bible, J.I. Packer & M.C. Tenney]. 

So, here we see that the Church in Ephesus consisting of both Jewish and Gentile believers, each group predisposed to hold on to their previous traditions, at this point trying to live by their new convictions as believers in Christ. Unfortunately, the old nature never goes away or gives up trying to influence the believer, and this no doubt was a problem in the Church at Ephesus, and Paul had already dealt with this in his letter to the Ephesian Church <see Eph.4:17-24>; and Christ’s message through John the apostle for the Ephesian Church warning them of their pagan influence encouraging them to return to their “first love” <Rev.2:1-7; cf Acts 20:29-30>

Paul does not indicate the reason for his directive to Timothy concerning the role of women in the Ephesian Church, but it no doubt had some bearing on the above background.

“I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety” <1 Tim.2:9 (NIV); cf 1 Pet.3:3-6; Eph.4:22-24; Col.3:5>; they should not allow their previous habits to influence their new convictions, nor should they attempt to be influenced by the society in which they lived; their external beauty should emerge from their new “inner” nature; “appropriate for women who profess to worship God.” <1 Tim.2:10 (NIV)>. The intent here is that women should not dress in a way that will draw attention to them by others in the congregation, rather than to focus on the One who is being worshipped.

“A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man” <1 Tim.2:11-12 (NIV)>; whatever the reason for this directive, again we are not told, but Paul is giving the order of propriety in public worship <see 1 Cor.11:3-16; 14:34-35>. It is God who has decreed that a woman should not have a public teaching ministry in the church, not Paul! However, we find that women are permitted to teach children and younger women <see 2 Tim.1:5; 3:14-15; Tit.2:4>, and this can certainly be done in a church setting.

The questions that we must ask ourselves are: how do we apply these principles in the Church today? Was Paul dealing with specifics of that time period only? Are any of the background qualities or similarities mentioned above present in the Church and society today?

Circumstances and situations are different in our day and these concerns have been addressed by a variety of practices. Who, or what then, is correct in the eyes of God?


Thankfulness to God is primarily expressed in our worship of Him. Our service is directly related to our thankfulness to God. Some people want to serve God but prefer to serve Him “in an advisory capacity”. It is not ours to dictate to God where or how we may serve Him, it is ours to say with the apostle Paul “Lord what will You have me to do?” Believers in Christ, claim the privilege of the “priesthood of all believers” <see 1 Pet.2:5>, yet most fail to understand that with every privilege there comes a responsibility. As members of a local Church, we are all called to be priests who worship and serve God, and as we examine the life and work of a priest as described in the scriptures, we see many parallels between the Old Testament priest and the New Testament priest. The two primary functions of priests are: 1. Worship; 2. Service. An O.T. priest could not take the office of a priest if he was not able and willing to worship God. Likewise, he could not be a priest if he had no intention to serve God.

  1. WORSHIP: What Is Worship? (Quote: A. W. Tozer.) “Worship is to feel in your heart and express in some appropriate manner, a humbling but delightful sense of admiring awe, astonished wonder, and overpowering love, in the presence of that most ancient Mystery, that Majesty which philosophers call the First Cause, but which we call “Our Father Which is in Heaven”.

Worship In the Old Testament: is centred around an altar. The first mention of an altar was after the flood when Noah built an Altar and sacrificed clean animals and birds to the Lord <Gen 8:20>. “The altar of worship was Abram’s constant practice, wherever he settled. Abram set up, and kept up, the worship of God in his family; and wherever he had a tent God had an altar, he instructed his family and servants in the knowledge of the true God.” <Gen.12:6-9> (from Matthew Henry’s Commentary). Prior to the Tabernacle, the head of each family acted as priest and conducted worship for his family and servants. After the Law was given Moses carried out God’s instructions and constructed the Tabernacle, in which all worship was conducted by the family of Aaron and priests called Levites that God had selected, and from that time onward the Jews did not have individual family priests. In the Tabernacle were two altars: (1) the bronze altar that was placed in the courtyard, on which the burnt sacrifices were offered; (2) the altar of incense on which only incense was offered <Ex.30:9>. One of the priests’ duties was to maintain these altars on which sacrifices were offered continually. There were five offerings made on the bronze altar: three voluntary offerings (the BURNT, GRAIN, and FELLOWSHIP offerings); and two mandatory offerings (the SIN offering for unintentional sin, and the GUILT offering for unintentional sin where retribution was required) <Lev.1-7>. Worship consisted of the sacrificial offerings and the singing of Psalms <2 Chron.7:6; 29:27-28>, conducted daily by the priests as well as for the annual feasts days that were required and set out in the Law. Unfortunately, as time progressed the spiritual lives of the people deteriorated, and so went their worship! God spoke through the prophets repeatedly in an attempt to restore the true worship of His people.

HOSEA addressed the deeper meaning of worship: “For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings.” <Hos.6:6 (NIV)>

MICAH declared the worship the lord expects: “With what shall I come before the LORD and bow down before the exalted God? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you?  To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” <Micah 6:6-8 (NIV)>

MALACHI declared acceptable worship: “… he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. Then the LORD will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness, and the offerings of Judah and Jerusalem will be acceptable to the LORD, as in days gone by, as in former years.” <Mal.3:3-4 (NIV)>

Worship In the New Testament: In the N. T., the physical altar of sacrifice has been replaced by the Spiritual altar and spiritual sacrifices. O.T. priests offered animal sacrifices that were pictures or types of Christ’s sacrifice on Calvary. Since our Lord’s offering was a much better sacrifice than theirs, and His offering is a final and eternal sacrifice, we, as N.T. priests are called to offer Christ to God as a sacrifice of praise in our worship <see Heb.9:11-12; 10:10, 18; 13:15>.

Therefore, as N.T. priests, we are called to offer up “spiritual sacrifices of praise – the fruit of our lips”. In the same way that worship in the O.T. had to be orderly, the N.T. requirement is also for orderly and true worship. Wrong attitudes such as divisions in the body of the local church, cliques, irreverence and self-centeredness, no regard for others or for the Lord Jesus Himself who is the centre of our gathering or coming together, these things cannot be acceptable <1 Cor.11:17-32>. Good attitudes must be exhibited whenever the local church comes together for worship <see 1 Cor.14:26, 40; Eph.5:19-21>. The motivation or driving force for our worship is to be acceptable to God in every way. Gifts of Praise (Matt. 5:24) (Quote: G. C. Morgan) “God seeks and values the offerings we bring Him – gifts of praise, thanksgiving, service, and material offerings. In all such giving at the altar we enter into the highest experiences of fellowship. But the offering is acceptable to God in the measure to which the one who offers it is in fellowship with God in character and conduct; and the test of this is in our relationships with our fellow men. We are thus charged to postpone giving to God until right relationships are established with others. Could the neglect of this be the explanation of the barrenness of our worship?” <see Heb.12:28-29>.

2. SERVICE: Service in the Old Testament was related to the Tabernacle (Temple) <see Num.18:1-7>. “The LORD said to Aaron, “You, your sons and your father’s family are to bear the responsibility for offenses against the sanctuary, and you and your sons alone are to bear the responsibility for offenses against the priesthood.” <Num.18:1 (NIV)>. Offence [iniquity] is to violate or transgress; to cause to fall into sinful ways. (Webster’s Dictionary). The priests were to “bear the responsibility for offences against the sanctuary and priesthood”; this meant that they should not violate or transgress God’s rules and regulations for their service. They were to be careful not to fall into sinful ways of service, for if they offended in the office of the priesthood or in their service, the judgement of God would be swift and sure <see Num.18:5-7>. God’s primary rule of service for the priest was that they, and only they, were to serve in the Tabernacle. Anyone else who attempted to do such service, or even to come near to the sanctuary would be put to death. The priest’s service was a lifetime and fulltime job, he was to have no distractions from without that would cause him to fail in his duty to God and the people. Each had his assigned duties and area of service, and each depended on the other, and all worked to the glory of God.

Service in the New Testament is related to our spiritual temple and the service to which we are called. N.T. priests are called to serve in the attitude that our Lord can return at any time. <see Mk.13:34>. As N.T. priests we each have our assigned area of service in relation to our calling and gift, and therefore, we are all dependent upon each other in the Master’s service. When one servant fails in his/her assignment the whole project stalls or fails, and the one at the door may have to announce the sudden return of the Master, and we all have to account to Him for the failure of the job. The Master whom we serve is Lord, and many of us acknowledge Him as Saviour, but few acknowledge Him as Lord. Such “call” Him Lord but fail to do the things He commands them to do – they fail in their service! The reason for our service is more important than the act itself. God who sees the attitude and motive of the heart, and the true purpose of our action, will judge our service. So let us always ask ourselves – “WHY do I serve Him?” and be sure that we do everything for His glory <see 1 Cor.10:31; 4:5>.

Since Christ will examine our service, we should not judge the service of others. Let us be sure that our individual service will stand the scrutiny of the Master, since we will all stand before Him to give our individual account. The importance is not in the amount of work I have done, what is important is the quality and type of work that I have done!  <see 2 Cor.5:10; 1 Cor.3:13-14; Rev.22:12>. Numbers 18:1-7 is applicable here to some degree: “bear the responsibility for offences against the sanctuary and priesthood; we should do nothing to violate God’s standards for our priesthood or service! As a priest there must be evidence of our service. Unfortunately, for some there is no evidence.

The Dead Sea is so salty that it contains no fish or plant life. What accounts for this unusual condition? There are absolutely no outlets! A great volume of water pours into this area, but nothing flows out. Many inlets plus no outlets equal a dead sea. This law of nature may also be applied to the child of God, and it explains why many believers are so unfruitful and lacking in spiritual vitality. It’s possible for some people to attend Bible conferences, listen to religious broadcasts, study the Scriptures, and continually take in the Word as it is preached from the pulpit, and yet seem lifeless and unproductive in their Christian lives. Such individuals are like the Dead Sea. They have several “inlets” but no “outlets.” To be vibrant and useful believers, we must not only “take in” all we can, but we must also “give out” in service to God and to others!  (Source: Our Daily Bread,1996, May 22)

Godly Service therefore is: bearing the responsibility of our office as priest; serving God in expectancy of Christ’s soon return; being able to give a good report to our Master; being willing to “give out” in service to others

CONCLUSION: As priests our journey must begin with the worship of God if we are to experience true Thankfulness and Godly Service. We must, therefore, learn to worship before we can serve effectively, and in order for our worship to be effective and acceptable to God there must be a “purifying of the temple”, as was done by Hezekiah because of the low level of spirituality of God’s people <see 2 Chron.29:3-5>. This account is a parable of the cleansing of the heart meant to be a temple for God. We find that the doors of prayer are closed, the lamps of testimony unlit, the burnt-offerings of self-sacrifice neglected; and, as a result, grass grows thick in courts which should have been trodden by the feet of Levite minstrels engaged in holy song. If ever that song is to break out again, there must be a thorough cleansing and renovation of the inner shrine. If you cannot sing the Lord’s song; then you have gone into the strange land of backsliding. If you acknowledge that for some time now you have taken no delight in God or his service; then the temple is badly in need of renovation. Cleanse the house of the Lord. Bring out all the uncleanness.  By self-examination, confession, and self-denial, be clean of all the refuse that has accumulated through months and years of neglect. Resume the position of complete devotion, a prepared and sanctified servant. Offer the sin-offering for the past, and prepare the burnt-offering of complete consecration for the future. And when that is offered, when you determine to be wholly God’s, lay yourself, with all the interests of your life, at the feet of Jesus, for his disposal; then the song of the Lord will begin again. The music of your life is still, because you are out of accord with the will of God; but when by surrender and consecration there is unison with God, your heart will be filled with songs of worship and praise. And when there is a cleansing of the heart; the lamps of testimony have been re-lit; the burnt offerings of consecration are restored: then the song of praise to God will break-forth from our lips. “Hezekiah gave the order to sacrifice the burnt offering on the altar. As the offering began, singing to the LORD began also, accompanied by trumpets and the instruments of David king of Israel. The whole assembly bowed in worship, while the singers sang and the trumpeters played. All this continued until the sacrifice of the burnt offering was completed.” <2 Chron.29:27-28 (NIV)>

Our service to God will have many variations, sometimes all will go well, but unfortunately there will be the difficult times, and it is at such times that the song of praise may not heard. As we face the battles and the strife, we must be like king Jehoshaphat as he faced an enemy that was “vast”; a large army of Moabites and Ammonites were approaching from Edom, and we read that Jehoshaphat and the people of Judah “came together to seek help from the Lord”. After being encouraged by the Lord, the king and his army faced the enemy, and the enemy was soundly defeated. However, not before they had worshipped and praised the Lord <see 2 Chron.20:1-4, 21-22>.

Do you praise the beauty of His holiness? Do you appreciate holiness as it is presented in our glorious Lord? Can you turn from the noise and anxiety of life’s battle to dwell on the loveliness of God, to live a life devoted to divine worship and service, and to praise Him whose mercy endures forever? This can only be accomplished through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. In each of us there should be the priest-side of character as well as the warrior: the love for what is beautiful in holiness as well as for the strong and active in service. The special characteristic of this battle was that the king put the singers in the front of the army, and praised for a victory that was only assured to him by faith. Yet so sure was he of it, that he could praise before he entered into the battle. There is much to help us here in our daily combat for God and truth. Let us be the confident that God is going to bless. So, in all prayer, wait on God till you feel that you can praise Him for what you have asked Him to do.

When the singers began to praise, the Lord did all the rest. Before the attack of Jehoshaphat’s army, the enemy was destroyed. His people had only to gather the spoil, and then the praise that had anticipated the battle was brought to completion as they returned to Jerusalem. We must be confident in the face of our enemy that God is going to bless our service for Him, and never cease to worship and praise God for all He is going to do through us.

The dark and difficult times will come, and there won’t be much desire for gratitude or service; at such times, remember Jehoshaphat and the people of Judah! Let us worship and serve the Lord even when the enemy seems so overwhelming. Let us continue to express our gratitude to Him as we worship Him continually from a “clean temple”. Let us be faithful in our service for the Master! Let there be always true Thankfulness and godly service along the way. True worship will always lead to effective service.


Israel was now at the end of their forty-year wilderness journey, a journey during which God had instructed them using the many difficulties and hardships that they experienced. He instructed them through Moses as to their conduct in worship, the spiritual structure of their priesthood, the construction of their place of worship. Many lessons were taught and through their many failures God’s instructions were meant to equip them for life in general and for what they were now going to accomplish in the promised land. They are now encamped on the border of the land that God had promised to their fore-father Abraham, a land that was occupied by people who were heathen in nature, who worshipped a variety of false gods; their worship included child sacrifice, perverted worship involving prostitution, ritualistic meals, licentious dancing, all such that were (are) satanic imitations of true worship. So, one of the final instructions from God through Moses is recorded: “On the plains of Moab by the Jordan across from Jericho the Lord said to Moses, “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘When you cross the Jordan into Canaan, drive out all the inhabitants of the land before you. Destroy all their carved images and their cast idols, and demolish all their high places.” <Num.33:50-52 (NIV)>.

Why the instruction to drive out all the inhabitants? God knows that what we see and hear on a regular basis influences us to the extent that we are encouraged to incorporate these beliefs and actions into our lives. Advertisers are well aware of this and we are inundated with repeated messages encouraging us to consider the suggestions. God had set up a specific procedure and practice of worship for His people, one that was godly and spiritually beneficial for His people, any variation or insertion of satanic imitations would be contrary to God’s purposes. A severe warning to believers in Christ! God has called us to be a separate people, followers of Christ that are not to incorporate any worldly imitation into our worship, whether private or corporate <see Jos.23:7; Psa.4:3; Rom.13:12-14; 2 Cor.6:14-18>. God further speaks, through Moses, a warning that if they fail to completely obey His command, they will suffer the consequences: “‘But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land, those you allow to remain will become barbs in your eyes and thorns in your sides. They will give you trouble in the land where you will live. And then I will do to you what I plan to do to them.'” <Num.33:55-56 (NIV)>; and this warning certainly has an application today in our private, and our corporate worship.

It was unfortunate for the Israelites that under the leadership of Joshua they conquered and drove out only some of the inhabitants of the land, allowing many of the Canaanite tribes to remain in disobedience to God’s command. After Joshua’s death it is recorded: “After that whole generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation grew up, who knew neither the Lord nor what he had done for Israel. Then the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord and served the Baals. They forsook the Lord, the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of Egypt. They followed and worshiped various gods of the peoples around them. They provoked the Lord to anger because they forsook him and served Baal and the Ashtoreths.” <Judg.2:10-13 (NIV); see verses 1-3>. And this began many years of rebellion against God resulting in God’s judgment upon them, and this judgment continued all through their history as the influence of idol worship caused them to turn away from God. Finally, God had to send them into exile as the Babylonians conquered the land that God had given to them.

What then should we learn from this, why is all this history recorded for us? The apostle Paul wrote to the Church at Corinth reminding and warning them of Israel’s history: “These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come.” <1 Cor.10:11 (NIV)>. Paul warned them about their idolatry and pagan revelry; he warned them of sexual immorality; of testing The Lord and grumbling <1 Cor.10:7-10>; all of which the Israelites experienced during their wilderness journey. What was Paul’s reasoning? It was that pagan worship is offered to demons! <1 Cor.10:20>, and each and every believer and follower of Christ today must be on guard, not allowing Satanic imitations to be incorporated into our worship whether private or corporate! The Israelites practiced this intermingling during their history while living in the promised land and suffered the consequences of exile. Believers and followers of Christ must understand that although these sins are recorded in the history of the people of Israel, they are still widespread today both in our private and corporate lives. We, therefore, must take note of Paul’s warnings given to the Corinthian believers, and seek the help of The Holy Spirit to keep us faithful to God’s Word and from participation in these sins which would be to our downfall, disgrace and discipline by a Holy God.

It is extremely easy for us to be deceived by Satan into believing that certain practices are allowable because they are attractive and thought engaging to our worship and to those that we are attempting to reach with the Gospel, but we must be careful to remember that “”Everything is permissible”-but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible”-but not everything is constructive.” <1 Cor.10:23 (NIV)>.


Following God’s instructions, Moses had gone to the top of the mountain where he waited to receive all God’s instructions: the guiding principles of the Law, the application of the Law and the plans for the building of the Tabernacle (or Tent of Meeting), God’s appointed place of worship; and it is recorded that the time spent in the mountain was forty days <Ex.24:17-18>. To the people this was a long time and they were not sure if their leader would ever return, for they had seen God’s glory appear as a consuming fire and could have presumed that Moses was no longer alive. “When the people saw that Moses was so long in coming down from the mountain” <Ex.32:1 (NIV)>; the leaders (tribe or clan) of the people went to Aaron (who had been appointed as the High Priest) with a request – “Come, make us gods who will go before us.” <Ex.32:1 (NIV)>. There are times on our wilderness journey when we become impatient with God because His answer or response in delayed, so there is the attempt to make a decision on the assumption that this is the way that God intends. The people had soon forgotten, or failed yet another test, returning to their old ways that were learned in Egypt. “So all the people took off their earrings and brought them to Aaron. He took what they handed him and made it into an idol cast in the shape of a calf, fashioning it with a tool. Then they said, “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.”” <32:3-4 (NIV)>; this was most likely intended to represent God (the Egyptians worshipped a living animal a Bull), making this a substitute for God who had led them out of Egypt and across the desert to the foot of Mount Sinai <see Ex.13:21-22>; and this, unfortunately, was in violation of the second commandment <Ex.20:4-5>.

Pagan gods introduce pagan religious worship and practices, for no sooner the calf was made Aaron constructed an altar and the people offered sacrifices, “Afterward they sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in revelry.” <Ex.32:6 (NIV)>. What is revelry? Revelry – noisy (boisterous) festivity (or merrymaking); reveling. (from Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language), far removed from the order of worship that God had introduced for His people. As soon as the sinner is redeemed by God and brought into His fellowship, Satan introduces a substitute for worship. Many years later in their history God punished the nation by sending them into exile for committing the sin of idolatry <see Deut.8:19-20; 1 Kings 12:28-30; Ezek.8:9-16; 10:18-19; 11:12>. There is always an excuse for doing wrong and for Aaron it was no exception, accusing the people of his sin <Ex.32:21-23; cf Gen.3:12-13>.

In disobeying the commandment, the people had to be punished by God, and Moses was aware of this, so he offered himself to bear the punishment; but God sets the standard for His judgment, for He has declared that “The soul who sins is the one who will die” <Ezek.18:4b (NIV)>, but shows that His judgment may not be an instant occurrence “But now, please forgive their sin — but if not, then blot me out of the book you have written.” The Lord replied to Moses, “Whoever has sinned against me I will blot out of my book. ….. However, when the time comes for me to punish, I will punish them for their sin.”” <Ex.32:32-34 (NIV)>. The only substitute that God has provided to free an individual from the penalty of their sin is the Lord Jesus Christ <Jn.3:16>.

What then is the lesson of the golden calf for us today? The commandment given to the people thousands of years ago still applies; “”You shall have no other gods before me. “You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them” <Ex.20:3-5 (NIV)>. So often for each of us God is substituted with a god of our creativity, and this can be anything that replaces God and our worship of Him. It can be legitimate to our life in general; work, hobby, an item that we possess or an event that we are involved in, that causes us to spend less or no time in the worship of God; and the second commandment is violated making the individual guilty of the whole Law of God. God has declared that no individual has an excuse for such a violation of His commandments, for He has revealed Himself to all individuals on the face of this earth, and we should be aware that although His judgment has been delayed, we do suffer the results of our sin in this present life, just as the Israelites did after they violated His commands; “And the Lord struck the people with a plague because of what they did with the calf Aaron had made.” <Ex.32:35 (NIV); cf Rom.1 :18-32>.

Let us not be fooled by Satan to create for ourselves a “golden calf”, for in so doing we will be under the judgment of God. This also unfortunately applies to the believer in Christ, and although a believer will never fall under God’s judgment for sin, a believer who does sin will suffer the loss of God’s blessings both in this life and the next if such sin is not confessed and forgiven by our Lord Jesus. The unfortunate effect of this is that such behaviour finds its way into the Church and the New Testament warns us of this and the consequences, since the introduction of idol worship regardless of the form will only lead to revelry of some form, causing the individual or Church to be guilty of leaving their “first love of Christ” <see Rev.2:4-5; 1 Jn.1:8-9>. Unfortunately, there are many “golden calves” that have been introduced into our personal and corporate worship today, impeding our vision of God because something or someone blocks our vision of God, and such has robbed us of the real blessings of worship, since genuine worship has been substituted by some object or person <see Jn.4:23; 1 Tim.2:5>. We can only worship God through the person of our Lord Jesus Christ, who takes our offering and presents it to God.

As you contemplate this, reflect on who or what is the “golden calf” in your life.