top of page

Passover and Pentecost: Brings Us In (part 7)

Title Post: Rethinking Idolatry

I am summarizing and bringing our study to a close by making three points that seek to address the question, What does the feast of Pentecost—biblically understood—mean to you and me today? I suggest that we must rethink,

  1. the whole paradigm of salvation

  2. the significance of the Torah

  3. the issue of idolatry in our lives

3.​ We must rethink the issue of idolatry in our lives

Many reflections upon and interpretations of the golden calf incident are offered in Jewish thought. These two are particularly pertinent to identifying the presence of idolatry in our lives.

First, Israel​ ​wanted to go back​ ​to​ ​Egypt because of the insecurity of freedom (to coin a phrase from A.J. Heschel).​ Slavery was what they knew. We could say it this way; it​ ​was​ ​far​ ​easier​ ​to​ ​get​ ​Israel​ ​out of​ ​Egypt​ ​than​ ​to​ ​get​ ​Egypt​ ​out​ ​of​ ​Israel. Is this not true of us as well?

In what ways have we reverted back to the world?

Second, what​ ​Aaron​ ​gave shape to and what Israel followed was​ ​not​ ​an​ ​outright​ ​rejection​ ​of​ ​Yahweh.

They​ ​created another​ ​symbol​ ​for​ ​Yahweh​ ​because​ ​Moses, their​ ​main​ ​symbol, was​ ​gone​ ​and seemingly​ ​lost. They​ ​made​ ​the golden ​calf​ as​ ​a​ ​kind​ ​of​ ​pedestal ​for God, an​ ​idea common​ ​in the surrounding pagan​ ​cultures. Interestingly,​ ​it​ ​is​ ​an​ ​idea​ even found in​ ​the​ ​Torah. Do you know what I am talking about? That's right, the​ ​place between the cherubim​ ​atop​ ​the​ ​ark​ ​of​ ​the​ ​covenant is​ ​called the​ ​mercy​ ​seat. It is, so to speak,​the​ ​place​ ​where​ ​Yahweh​ ​sits.

​Some believe ​that Aaron​ ​and​ ​the​ ​children​ ​of​ ​Israel​ ​created ​the​ ​calf​ ​as​ ​a​ ​pedestal​ ​upon which​ ​Yahweh could stand. I​ ​think​ ​this​ ​is​ ​profound because​ it​ ​tends​ ​to​ ​be​ ​the case with us. Typically,​ when​ we don't​ live​ ​fully​ ​up​ ​to​ ​our​ ​calling​ ​and​ ​take​ ​on​ ​the​ ​Word​ ​of God​ ​as​ ​we​ ​should, we​ ​do not​ ​reject​ God. ​We​ just​ ​recast​ ​him​ ​in​ ​a​ ​different​ ​mold. We​ ​take​ ​the​ ​world's​ ​system​ ​and​ ​images and​ ​marry​ ​them​ ​to​ ​God.​

​If​ ​you stop​ ​worshipping​ ​God,​ ​you​ ​begin​ ​worshipping​ ​gods. And make no mistake about it, we become conformed to what we worship.

That ​is​, in large part, what​ ​has​ ​happened​ ​to​ ​the​ ​church​ ​in America​ ​today and​ ​what​ ​I​ ​believe​ ​will​ ​soon​ ​result​ ​in​ ​judgment.​ ​​​As a church, we​ ​have​ ​become politically​ ​correct, shaped​ ​by​ ​the​ ​very​ ​forces against whom we​ ​are supposed​ ​to​ ​stand.​ We​ ​are​ ​to​ ​be​ ​witnesses​ ​and​ ​judges; ​instead,​ ​we​ ​have become​ ​friends​ ​of​ ​the​ ​secular, secularizing​ ​world.​ We have fallen to the point of​ the​ ​church​ ​finding​ ​ways​ ​of​ ​theologically​ ​putting​ ​the​ ​stamp​ ​of​ ​approval​ ​on perverse expressions of sexuality.

​We must​ ​purge​ ​ourselves​ ​of​ ​idolatry. We​ ​must​ ​stand​ ​as​ ​witnesses​ ​to​ ​the​ ​fact​ ​that​ ​the​ ​God​ ​of​ ​Israel​ ​is God alone and​ ​that​ ​he​ ​has​ ​saved​ ​us​ ​from​ ​Egypt to bring us to​ Sinai, where he​ teaches​ us how to live. Passover is his salvation from evil and death; Pentecost is his way of goodness and life.

We know that everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning, but he who was born of God protects him, and the evil one does not touch him.

We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.

And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus the Messiah. He is the true God and eternal life.

Little children, keep yourselves from idols.

- 1 John 5:18-21

Read more: Previous Post


Want to go deeper? Click here to explore audio seminars by Dwight A. Pryor.

Interested in taking one of our dynamic online courses? Click here.


This study is from a professionally produced transcription of the audio recording. It was edited for readability by the team at JC Studies.

Dwight A. Pryor (1945-2011) was a gifted Bible teacher of exceptional clarity and depth who earned the friendship and admiration of both Christian and Jewish scholars—in the United States and Israel—as well as the respect and appreciation of followers of Jesus around the world. His expertise in the language, literature, and culture of Israel during the life and time of Jesus and the early church yield insights that nourish every area of faith and practice.

Dwight founded JC Studies in 1984 to edify the people of God. Click here to explore over fifty of his audio and video seminars.

bottom of page