A Modern Day Golden Calf

This post first appeared on Kineti and is authored by Judah Gabriel Himango, one of Tabernacle of David’s teachers.

Dear Kineti readers,

Below you’ll find a second guest post by Aaron Hecht, a friend and Messianic Jewish Israeli. This post is a follow-up to The Crisis in Israeli Democracy (and Christian Zionism). Here, Aaron argues the Christian Zionist groups in Judea and Samaria are in error for trying to bring Israeli believers under Orthodox Jewish authority and live Orthodox Jewish lifestyles.

Are Christian Zionist groups overstepping their purpose and allying themselves with opponents of the Gospel? Are they pushing Torah observance and Orthodox Jewish lifestyles onto the Jewish Christians in Israel? Aaron presents his case below. I have a few comments myself, so do checkout the discussion in the comments below.

With the Biblical Feast of Passover approaching, the Philo-Semitic segment of the Church of Jesus Christ, including Messianic Jews, Hebrew Roots, and Christian Zionist folks, is gearing up to hold Passover Seder events that teach about the parallels between the story found in the Book of Exodus and the events described in the Gospels centering around the last week of Jesus’ life, especially what’s become known to history as “the last supper” and His subsequent crucifixion, death, burial, and resurrection.

All of that is to the good and I hope everyone reading this will find a Passover Seder meal that includes teachings about this subject.

However, with all due respect, I think there are many other lessons from the stories found in the Book of Exodus that are highly relevant for the Philo-Semitic segment of the Church, particularly Hebrew Roots/Christian Zionist folks, and I’d like to explore one of them in this blog.

I am speaking about the story of the Golden Calf, which is found in Exodus 32.

For those who haven’t read that passage and/or watched Cecille B. Demille’s “The Ten Commandments” recently, Moses went up on Mount Sinai to meet with God, accompanied by Joshua, and left his brother Aaron in charge of the large Israelite camp. The Bible doesn’t say precisely how long he was up on the mountain, but it couldn’t have been very long. But in that short period of time, the Israelites decided that Moses probably wasn’t coming back and that the God Moses had gone up the mountain to talk to had abandoned them. So these people who had, in the very recent past, watched the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob cast down and overcome all the idols worshipped in Egypt, asked Aaron to make them…an idol to worship.

Aaron, who I always felt an affinity for since I was a little kid reading these Bible stories because I had the same name as him, committed one of the most heartbreakingly stupid acts in the entire Bible and complied with this request. He told the people to bring him the gold they’d received from the Egyptians and he melted it down and forged a golden calf. He then told these people “here is your god, who brought you up out of Egypt” which, again, is one of the dumbest statements in all of human history, since Aaron and all the people who heard him say that knew very well from their own first-hand experience that it wasn’t true.

Why did they act as if they believed it? Why did they worship the Golden Calf? Why would they want an idol to follow when they still had fresh memories in their minds about the all-powerful Living God who had triumphed so convincingly over the idols of Egypt?

These are some of the most difficult questions posed by the entire Bible. But we shouldn’t be so harsh in judging these ancient people for their foolish mistakes, because we’re not much better. As we look around at the Philo-Semitic segment of the Church today, it’s impossible to deny the wide and deep popularity of so many silly, unscriptural ideas.

I’m not just talking about the deeply lamentable habit of indulging in ludicrously absurd conspiracy theories about GMO foods, Bill Gates, Elon Musk, etc. Those silly, unscriptural practices and ideas are bad enough and they cause plenty of damage. But there are some ideas and practices that are even more damaging.

One of the most popular golden calves that directly affect the Body of Messiah in Israel is the idea that Jews have a unique, God-given identity that is most perfectly fulfilled by the Modern Orthodox Jews who live in Judea and Samaria.

The groups which have gone the farthest in adopting this idolatrous idea have even taken to telling Jewish Believers in Israel that we are out of order for not bowing down and worshipping this golden calf that they’ve made for themselves. They seem to think that God made a mistake by appointing Jewish Believers who started fellowships in places like Tel Aviv and Ashkelon instead of moving themselves and their families to Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria. This mistake is compounded by these wayward Messianic Jews who usually don’t wear kippot, eat kosher, etc. In fact, if you go into most Believer fellowships in Israel, including the big ones here in Jerusalem where I live, you won’t see anything uniquely Jewish. It’ll look just like any Charismatic or Baptist Christian church anywhere in America.

Some of these Jewish Israeli Believers even go so far as to vote for political parties on the center-Left. They even sit in fellowship with Arab Believers and say these people have just as much right to live in this country as Jewish people do. Would you believe that some of these Jewish Israeli Believers don’t even support the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria and occasionally petition the government to evacuate settlements?

The cosmic scandal of it all!

But those who have elevated the golden calf I’m speaking of will tell you that it can all be made right if wayward Messianic Jews like myself will just humble ourselves, cleanse our homes of bacon, put a kippa on and otherwise start living the way the Modern Orthodox Jewish settlers in Judea and Samaria do. Then God will bless us and together we can all move forward into the glorious future He has for us.

They’re showing us the way by living in Judea and Samaria themselves and adopting the dress code of the National Religious/Modern Orthodox, often keeping strictly kosher, and in many other ways imitating these people who are definitely living out their God-given identity and calling, which certainly doesn’t include accepting the Gospel. Dual Covenant Theology is an unavoidable component in this worldview, but if you ask them, the people who have and teach this view will deny that they hold to Dual Covenant Theology. But this is a topic that deserves its own, separate blog.

In any case, there is a great tragedy from the perspective of these groups because although they’ve been vigorously at work setting us this example they think we should follow for several years and have even sent emissaries to some of our congregations to try and convince us of the necessity of placing ourselves under the spiritual authority of these Modern Orthodox rabbis they’re so close to, most of us have not followed their example. Because of this, according to their view, we’re out of God’s will and thus unable to receive His blessing.

The very first part of this idolatrous set of ideas is true (all effective lies contain an element of truth in them) because Jewish people DO have a unique, God-given identity. But everything else in this narrative is utter nonsense, especially the last part.

The plans and purposes of God are being carried forward by the Israeli Believers, as imperfect as we are. Some of us are Jews, some are Arabs, and many more are Gentiles of various types. Very few of us wear kippot or keep kosher and only a small handful live in Judea and Samaria. We believe that Jews need the Gospel as much as anyone else does, and the Israeli Body of Messiah is making steady progress in our efforts to be salt and light, to share the gospel with our fellow Israelis, and otherwise be about our Father’s business.

We don’t pick many grapes, but we do save many souls.

Because of this, and despite our many failings, shortcomings, and imperfections, His blessings are being poured out on us. God most certainly is blessing us despite our refusal to bow to the golden calf that certain groups have fallen so desperately in love with.

These groups believe they’ve been called to come to Israel to do work that God has appointed them to do here, and I believe that’s correct. But what they get wrong is that they think they’re supposed to lead while the Israeli Believers should follow their example as they imitate the Modern Orthodox, while the truth is that it’s exactly the other way around. They should be following the lead of the Israeli Believers because this is our country, not theirs. God has appointed us to be the representatives of His Kingdom here, and instead of trying to tell us (and by extension, God) what to do, they should be getting behind what God is doing, even if it’s not what they think He should be doing.

With this in mind, the obvious question arises, why do these groups continue to believe in and teach these observably false doctrines and ideas? Why do they continue to bow down and worship this worthless golden calf they’ve made for themselves? Why do they continue to make common cause with, and even help the efforts of, groups that are actively and deliberately fighting against the Kingdom of Jesus Christ in Israel and trying to stop the sharing of the Gospel here?

The answer is as simple as it is tragic.

They’re deceived.

The truth is right in front of their faces but the spirit of anti-Christ, which is the same spirit that deceived Eve in Genesis chapter 3, and which deceived the Israelites into worshipping the original golden calf, has never stopped deceiving the human race ever since. This anti-Christ spirit infected the Church of Jesus Christ early on and has had an influence on various parts of it ever since, even infecting the Protestant Reformation and the Messianic Jewish movement when they emerged in Europe around the same time in the late 16th century.

Now it is at work in our beloved Hebrew Roots and Christian Zionist movements and has succeeded in deceiving many well-meaning people into putting tremendous efforts into things that don’t only not help the Kingdom of Jesus Christ, they actually oppose it.

I hope that reading this blog will help those who have not yet fallen under the influence of this golden calf to avoid it and maybe help those who have been bowing to the golden calf but are ready to try something else. If someone you care about is bowing to this golden calf and you’d like to help them get away from it, I can tell you from personal experience that when someone is under the spiritual influence of this particular golden calf, deprogramming them can be a long, difficult and heartbreaking process. But it can be done! I have met several individuals who saw the light and left this golden calf cult. As the Jews say, “tameed yesh tikvah, there is always hope.”

Just remember what Jesus said in Mark 9:29; “This kind comes out only through prayer.”

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