It is said of these people, “They kiss calf-idols!” (Hosea 13:2)
The people of God had indulged in willful rebellion; they had left their first love and chased after smaller gods that promised life, but delivered only death. This is always true when we chase after anything smaller than Jesus. Oh, our idol may look like life and it may even feel like life, but in the end, it cannot deliver on its promise and brings with it only disappointment, destruction, and death.
Let this serve as a word of warning this day: Kiss not the calf, for it cannot satisfy the longing of your heart. Instead, bow the knee and kiss the Christ, for He will meet you in your deepest place of need.
The problem with speaking this message into today’s church culture is that we tend to picture the golden calf that the Israelites fashioned and began to worship when Moses stayed too long on the mountain of God. We reason that these were a primitive people who bowed down to a golden statue of a calf, and we assume that we are far too educated and sophisticated to do such an outlandish thing. But this is a grave mistake. I readily acknowledge that very few people in today’s high-tech society would ever bow down before a statue of a calf, but I will also assert that far too many of us worship idols like a job, a relationship, success, wealth, a hobby, social status, or physical beauty. Perhaps you can add a few items to this list? We are consumed by a continual greed for “more,” which Paul identified as “idolatry” in Colossians 3:5.
It’s important to note that most of the things on this list of idols are not bad things. Things like a job, a family, or physical health are good things. The sin occurs when these, and countless other good things, become ultimate things in our lives. Then they become bad things, idols that enslave us and become life-altering, causing us to do things we ought not do, often hurting ourselves and our loved ones along the way. Make no mistake, we all “kiss calf-idols” from time to time. Sometimes they are clearly bad for us—idols like greed and immorality—but more often than not they could be good for us; and the greater the good, the greater our expectation of having our deepest needs met by it. We must remember the truth that good things become bad things when they become ultimate things.
So . . . have you kissed a calf lately? Have you sought after something smaller than God to give to you what only God can give? Remember, we all come from the womb with a God-sized void in our hearts. Only when we fill that void with God will we find the happiness, satisfaction, and joy that we so deeply desire. Kiss not the calf! Instead, like the woman who anointed our Lord with expensive ointment, kiss the feet of Jesus Christ and your internal void will be filled to overflowing.
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!