How Israel "Corrupted Themselves"

 •  3 min. read  •  grade level: 8
In meditating upon the ordinances of the Mosaic ritual, one thing in particular strikes the mind; that is, the remarkably jealous way in which God fenced Himself round from the approach of man, as such. It is salutary for the soul to ponder this. We are in great danger of admitting into our minds an element of unholy familiarity when thinking of God, which the devil may use in a very pernicious way and to a very evil end.
It is a fundamental principle of truth, that in proportion as God is exalted and reverenced in our thoughts, will our walk through life be shaped in accordance with what He loves and enjoins; in other words, there is a strong moral link between our estimate of God and our moral conduct. If our thoughts of God are low, low will be our standard of Christian walk; if high, the result will be accordingly. Thus, when Israel, at the foot of Mount Horeb, “changed their glory into the similitude of an ox that eateth grass,” the Lord’s words were, “Thy people, which thou broughtest out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves.” Exodus 32:77And the Lord said unto Moses, Go, get thee down; for thy people, which thou broughtest out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves: (Exodus 32:7). Mark those words, “corrupted themselves.” They could not do otherwise, when they let down their thoughts of the dignity and majesty of God so low as to imagine, for a moment, that He was “like an ox that eateth grass.”
Similar is the teaching of Romans 1. There the Apostle shows us that the reason of all the abominations of the Gentile nations must be sought for in the fact that “when they knew God, they glorified Him not as God”; thus they too “corrupted themselves.” This is a principle possessing vast practical influence. If we attempt to lower God, we must necessarily lower ourselves; and herein we are furnished with a key by which to interpret all religion. There is an inseparable link between the character of the god of any religion and the character of the votaries thereof, and Jehovah was constantly reminding His people of the fact, that their conduct was to be the consequence of what He was. “I am the Lord thy God, that brought thee up out of the land of Egypt; therefore,” “be ye holy, for I am holy.” And exactly similar is the Spirit’s word to us: “He that hath this hope in Him purifieth himself, even as He is pure.”
This principle, I conceive, carries us far above all merely systematic views of truth; it is not at all a question of mere doctrine. No; it brings us at once into the deep recesses of the soul, there to ponder, as beneath the piercing, jealous eye of the Thrice Holy One, the estimate which we, as individuals, are daily and hourly forming of Him. I feel that we cannot with impunity refuse to give our minds seriously to this important point of truth; it will be found to contain much of the secret of our low walk and lamentable deadness. God is not exalted in our thoughts; He has not the supreme place in our affections; self, the world, our family, our daily employments, have, as regards the most of us, thrust down our gracious God from the throne of our affections, and robbed the One who died to save us of the blood-purchased homage of our hearts. This being the case, Can we expect to flourish? Ah! no; the farmer who gives his time and thoughts to something else during the springtime, shall look in vain for a golden harvest.
C. H. M.