Aaron answered them, “Take off the gold earrings that your wives, your sons and your daughters are wearing, and bring them to me.” 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, Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.”
When Aaron saw this, he built an altar in front of the calf and announced, “Tomorrow there will be a festival to the Lord.” So the next day the people rose early and sacrificed burnt offerings and presented fellowship offerings. Afterward they sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in revelry.
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go down, because your people, whom you brought up out of Egypt, have become corrupt. They have been quick to turn away from what I commanded them and have made themselves an idol cast in the shape of a calf. They have bowed down to it and sacrificed to it and have said, ‘These are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.’
- Exodus 32:2-8
“Virtue — even attempted virtue — brings light; indulgence brings fog.”
- C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
Then why do we always crave to be indulged?
Aaron and the Israelites indulged in revelry. If I ever get a heart-shaped box, I will indulge in chocolate. We tend to indulge in whatever makes us happy at the moment. We indulge in too much spicy food and alcohol one day; we indulge in antacids and home remedies for hangovers the next.
Martin Luther posted the 95 theses, most dealing with “indulgences.” The Catholic church had established a practice of indulging indulgences by having the survivors pay “indulgences” to lessen the dearly departed’s punishment. But they were really indulging themselves by collecting money with no no Biblical basis. We are either in the Book of Life or we are not, and that is based on whether we had a meaningful, real relationship with Jesus – not just a casual acquaintance or an historical knowledge. If we are in the Book of Life, there is no punishment. If we are not, intercession once we have passed away does us no good. But due to the possible loss in revenue, the Catholic church had to silence Luther, and reluctantly, the Protestant reformation was born.
But let’s focus on our need to be indulged. Even television has gotten into the act. Now you do not need a cable or antenna signal. You can simply get a smart TV and an internet connection. You might have to wait for the programs to be on one streaming service or another, but then you binge… Binging is a good indulgence word. Keep consuming until you are full or you pass out or you simply fall asleep.
Our lives are filled with binges. I would binge on ice cream back in the day when my GERD was so bad that the super-expensive antacids did not work after three doses, but two pints of ice cream put out the fire. It is funny that I can remember that indulgence but not the indulgence of the extra helping of food at suppertime that led to the monster attack of GERD in the first place.
Of course, we are seeking something, and that something cannot be found in the things of this earth, but in the Creator of all things.
You can fast if you want but let us be mindful of who our Creator is.
Our Creator is God, who loves us and provides our needs. No substitute indulgences could ever measure up.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.