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Worship God Alone

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Dive (6-8)Year 2Unit 2 (What's with All the Rules?)Session 2

Worship God Alone

I'm called to trust, love, fear, and honor the one true God with all my heart, and to worship God alone.
Faith Nurture Goals
  • Recognize the one true God as worthy of our singular worship.
  • Wonder into the story of the golden calf.
  • Develop a sense of what it means to be loyal to God.
  • Reflect on some of the strengths and weaknesses of our own worship of God.
Memory Challenge

Leader Reflection

Preparing to Tell God's Story

There's a phrase in the middle of the second commandment that may strike you as strange. It says that God is a "jealous God." Jealousy is not something we normally value in people. It leads to all sorts of odd and controlling behaviors. If you look at the dictionary, there are several definitions for jealousy—most of them negative and focused on feeling threatened by a rival.

It's certainly true that God tolerates no rivals, not because he is threatened by them, but because they are destructive to those who believe in them. The third definition of jealousy in my dictionary is "diligence in maintaining or guarding something." That's God's jealousy. God is diligent both in maintaining and guarding his own name and also in maintaining and guarding the welfare of his people.

The story of the golden calf, coming so soon after God gave the law at Sinai, illustrates the lure and the danger of idolatry.

Moses had been gone for a long time on the mountain. The people asked Aaron to build an idol. "Make us gods" could also be translated "make us a god." It may well be that the Israelites wanted to tame and control this fierce and fearsome God who appeared on Sinai. Idolatry always has this aspect. By fashioning a god, we can make it to our liking. The golden calf they fashioned was like the gods they were used to in Egypt---a safe and familiar god.

Aaron obliged, but tried to tie this idol into the worship of Israel's God. After completing it he announced, "Tomorrow there will be a festival to the Lord ." But it turned out to be more like a binge than an act of worship.

Of course, the Lord God was aware of all this on Sinai, and announced the idolatry to Moses, who had to intervene with the Lord to save the people from destruction. When Moses finally came down the mountain, he vented his rage, and the wrath of God, on the people. A number of the prime initiators were killed; the idol was smashed to bits. When Moses confronts his brother, Aaron tries to distance himself with the absurd claim that "They gave me gold; I threw it into the fire, and out came this calf."

In a strange sidelight the remains of the idol were burned, ground up, and placed in the people's drinking water. The lesson here seems to be that this worthless god is no better than urine on the ground.

The whole incident illustrates both how ridiculous idolatry is, but also how seductive and dangerous. It's ridiculous, because anything that is not truly God is created by God. Worshiping the creature rather than the Creator makes no sense.

At the same time, it's dangerous. False gods lead people to destructive lives. We become like what we worship. Worship money, and greed will consume you above everything else you value. Worship power, and you will end up willing to do anything to accumulate more. Worship things, and you will become no more than a mannequin on a shelf of transient stuff.

  • What about Moses’ absence made the Israelites hanker after an idol?

  • Why did Aaron go along?

  • What does God’s jealousy mean to me? What people or things do I rightly maintain and guard?

  • God’s jealousy may be a hard concept for the group. Can you illustrate from your own life a proper sense of jealousy—something or someone (a son or daughter perhaps) that you rightly maintain and guard?

  • In emphasizing the worship of God alone, make sure the group doesn’t just think of church worship, but that every part of life is to be lived to God’s glory.


Step 1 Gathering for God's Story

  • earth smart
  • music smart
  • self smart
  • ​​people smart

You’ll begin today’s session with a time of worship. If your room has a table, cover it with a tablecloth or sheet and place a Bible and a candle at the center. If you generally sit on couches or chairs in a circle, place an end table in the center of the circle and place the candle and Bible on that. Have worship music playing as everyone enters and welcome them to find a seat. If you are learning the Memory Challenge, you may want to work on that together as everyone arrives.

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