Testing the Spirits: Exodus 32 and the Golden Calf


This didn’t happen recently, but is something I’ve been wanting to get out in writing: I had neglected to test the spirit of a particular sign I was seeing in the spiritual realm, and it turned out to be really harmful. I had assumed God was speaking to me through this sign, but instead, it was a former familiar spirit trying to win me back.

Reading the passage in Exodus 32 about the golden calf, I realized the seriousness of my error. In this passage of scripture, the Israelites are in the desert after having been delivered from Egypt. (Did you catch that? They were delivered! The blood of the lamb on their door frames had saved them from the angel of death.) But then, they were in the desert, and they became confused. It seems they did desire to connect with God, but on their terms; and Moses (their mediator with God) had gone up to the mountain and was delayed in his return. They gather together and say to Aaron, “Come, make us gods that shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.”

It’s hard to imagine that a delivered people could project their worship on a physical object that they had just created. But they do. They declare: “‘This is your god, O Israel, that brought you out of the land of Egypt!’ So when Aaron saw it, he built an altar before before it. And Aaron made a proclamation and said, ‘Tomorrow is a feast to the Lord.’ Then they rose early on the next day, offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.”

What is Aaron seeing? The biblical text doesn’t tell us. The first it is italicized because it doesn’t exist in the original Hebrew: it reads more like, “when Aaron saw, he built an altar before it [the calf].” Aaron had just created the calf with his own hands, so it doesn’t seem likely that he would immediately forget what he had done and declare the calf is god–especially not the same god who delivered them from Egypt. It’s more likely he was seeing something spiritual. It’s much harder to describe seeing or perceiving the spiritual realm, so if Aaron saw something there, he may not have understood what he was seeing. Probably, he saw something spiritual, assumed it was a spirit of God, and assumed God was blessing the calf with His presence. Because Aaron connected the spirit of God to the golden calf, it became an object worthy of devotion. If he had considered his actions, he may have realized his error; but it seems he was acting without much thought.

This is, at least, what I recognized I had done. I didn’t intend to do it. I was seeing something I couldn’t describe. I’d mentioned it to several Christians who–without seeing it for themselves or having any experience with it–had encouraged me that God was showing me this seemingly positive sign as evidence of His favor and blessing in my life. And meanwhile, I was becoming increasingly physically ill and emotionally tired–and seeing the supernatural sign an average of four times a day, each time thanking God that He was blessing me. And I didn’t once consider that I should ask God regarding it. At one point, I was researching something completely different and came across an article that the thing I was seeing meant spiritual distortion and chaos, but I was so convinced by my initial assumption that I disregarded the evidence without a second thought. It is amazing, looking back, how quick I was to be confused–all because I had neglected to test the spirits, or ask the Lord what I was seeing and what it meant. It is a blessing I was eventually able to discover the truth and reconsider (and repent for) my mistake.

1 John 4:1 says: “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” And to the church in Corinth, Paul warns that the devil disguises himself as an angel of light (2 Cor 11:14). The stakes are too high not to test every spirit, every sign, and every supernatural experience. Every good thing comes from God, but not every attractive thing is good.


Dinner Miracles in our Home


We were blessed to have three guests in our home last week visiting our area with their college a cappella group. It was our first time hosting strangers overnight, so we were very excited. Due to my excitement, or perhaps something else, I made two silly mistakes while preparing dinner for us and our guests: 1) I forgot to double the soup recipe that I made, so it was going to serve 4 large bowls or 6 small bowls at most, 2) I made cornbread and forgot to put in the 2 cups of cornmeal. I’m not sure how these things happened as I’m typically a pretty good cook and pretty level headed person. In fact, with the cornbread, I had a moment before baking it that I thought, “Something is wrong; it’s not typically this watery and the smell is wrong.” I looked over the recipe again to see what I was missing, but somehow my eyes didn’t focus on ‘cornmeal’ and I baked it anyway, assuming I’d done everything correctly.

I realized both my mistakes five minutes before we had to leave for the concert. By the time we got home with our college students it was going to be 9 pm–too late to remake anything, and all of our guests had dietary needs (as do we), so this wasn’t something that could be solved with ordering pizza. Instead, I prayed over the food–and the whole house–and trusted that the Lord would do something. The logical side of me was thinking, “If everyone eats half a bowl of soup and lots of salad…Maybe it will work.”

But two amazing things happened. First, the soup was multiplied. I watched as each of the guests served themselves a full bowl, worrying there would not be enough, then one for my husband and a half bowl for our son. I assumed I’d just be eating salad, but I reached the ladle and pulled it up to see that there was enough for me after all! Later in the meal, everyone took seconds–including me: that makes 10.5 bowls. And when we’d all eaten enough, we had so much left it wouldn’t fit in our storage containers and had to be stored in a pitcher instead! The next day I counted 3 full bowls of leftovers. God multiplied my soup from 4ish bowls to 13.5 bowls!!! This is more than triple! I’ve made this same soup many times for our family and sometimes my husband and I have eaten it all in one sitting. This was truly a miracle!

Second, the Lord did a miracle with my cornbread. It didn’t taste like corn–not even remotely. But it was MUCH BETTER than normal! It also had a very bread-like consistency despite being made almost entirely of liquid. I had warned the guests of my mistake beforehand: that the bread may be terrible and they were free to raid the refrigerator afterward. But it was not necessary, Jesus blessed us greatly, despite my lack of faith.

He is SO good!


Miracles Among the Homeless


I have been so encouraged in watching the mighty works of the Lord through my good friend as she (and now others with her) minister to the homeless in our area.

She started passing out lunches to homeless people–no big thing, in her mind–which moved into also eating lunch with the homeless, and eventually–to her surprise–became a larger thing: other people wanting to come and share in what the Lord is doing, others (even local businesses) donating food, clothing, and such to the “ministry” and still more coming to minister outright. The ministry is still young, but already they have had opportunities to lead people to know Jesus, and to see signs and wonders as He demonstrates His love among them. Here are a couple accounts of the miracles that have taken place among them:

Not too long ago, as they gathered, homeless people continued coming to them, so that they didn’t have enough food. But they read one of the stories of Jesus multiplying the loaves and fishes, prayed over the meal, and as they served the food, they witnessed it multiplying. The Lord provided so much that just as in the biblical accounts they had leftovers–even though there was not enough in the beginning. (And hungry people don’t exactly eat meager portions if they can help it.)  There was more than enough!

Another day, my friend put too much water in the coffee, and by the time they noticed, it was too late to fix it. She reports that it tasted TERRIBLE–more like water than coffee–but as her and another gal watched the homeless people drinking it down, they apologized to one man that it was so bad, and he responded in surprise. It was very strong coffee, he said, and very good. The Lord had changed hot water into strong coffee, and they hadn’t even asked for it. God knows what we need!

Miracles like these aren’t rare. One homeless man shared that God always supplies his needs. One time, he told them, he asked God for something very specific, and when he opened the dumpster, he found it right on top! When needs are prevalent, and faith is childlike, miracles happen.

I love you dear friend.  Thank you for walking faithfully before the Lord.  You have shown me that signs and wonders follow obedience and humility regardless of our expectations. 🙂


What about the heathen who have never heard?


I used to justify that Jesus is not the only way to heaven with the emotional plea that surely a god who is love would not judge everyone based on one ‘truth’ since it’s not culturally and readily available to everyone–that would be unjust after all, and the Bible says that God is a just god.

The truth is that Truth exists outside of what we feel or choose to believe. I’ll spend a lot of time in future posts breaking down the little bit that I know about who Jesus is and how I know. For now, let’s leave it at this: we have a very limited understanding of who God is and how He speaks, so let’s try not to limit what we think He can/will do.

2 Corinthians 5 says that everyone has a groaning in their hearts to be reunited with the Father in His heavenly dwelling place. We also have the promise that those who seek the Lord with their whole hearts will find Him (Jer 29:13, Prov 8:17).

The events that happen between the passing thought that something is missing, the wondering what or who is out there, and actually finding that there is a god and that He’s a specific God, is unique for each person—perhaps even drastically unique for some individuals (like the heathen).  I’d like to share a very small portion of my own experience as an example:

Sometime after my third serious suicide attempt—and, by-the-way, I did know there was a God and that Jesus was God at this point; I’d even experienced personal miracles—I had a very unusual encounter with the Lord.

You see, I had been walking in direct disobedience to what I knew was God’s will for me, and yet, was so charmed by the apparent benefits of the devil’s power (I had, somewhat knowingly, made an agreement with the devil) that I wasn’t totally convinced that Jesus was the One I wanted as Lord over my life.

Yet in a moment of intense emotional pain, I walked into my bedroom after an early-release day of high school when the whole neighborhood was quiet, and in my heart felt a groaning that something in my life was not and could not be fulfilled the way I was living it. I don’t remember if I went as far as to make an audible prayer at this moment, but my heart definitely cried inside me something like: where is the Lord!?

Then, I began to hear music—like an orchestra was marching right outside my window (not just a ‘band’ but a full orchestra!). It was the most beautiful music I’d ever heard, and music was so important to me.

I started looking out my windows for the source of this wonderful music, and it was overwhelming loud, but there was nothing to see.  The street was completely empty; no cars in any driveway; nobody.  And it sounded live, but I began checking to see if maybe a radio was on, only to find that, no, they were off.

So I listened.

I laid down on my bed and listened.

And as I did, a man’s voice, deep and gentle, flooded me.  It was an audible voice, and I knew immediately it was the Lord’s.

He sang to me, accompanied by the music, and along with the song came pictures—it was like a panoramic video came before my eyes as small fragments of my life shown in high speed across my vision (likely my entire life, though I could only remember a handful of the images afterward).  To the best of my knowledge, the voice of the Lord was singing to me the song of my life.  It knew and made audible my every desire, my every anxiety, my every hurt—and I remember feeling as if my whole subconscious (which I had been longing to get to through hypnosis) was being audibly presented before me.

This lasted for several hours—I was surprised when I finally arose to see my clock.  And of all the images He showed me, one stood out more than the others: a short glimpse of friends gathering and laughing at an outdoor wedding reception (I could only see the group from their waists down, ironically, but held onto the vision knowing it would occur at my wedding)—and, yes, the vision was fulfilled when I got married several years later.

There’s more to the story, and I didn’t actually return to the Lord directly after this experience, but I’ll leave the other angles and details for another time.

So, back to that poor heathen who wants to know God but is too far physically and culturally from the Bible distribution centers and missionaries…

Why is it so hard to believe that if God can speak to each of us in any way He desires, He can’t also speak to this person?

So, why is it so hard to believe that if God can speak to each of us in any way He desires, He can’t also speak to other people?

He could choose to speak through a missionary, or a suddenly appearing Bible, or creation itself… Or He could speak through an angel, a dream, a vision, or even His audible voice.

Those thoughts about ‘what if somebody else won’t find the Lord’ is preventing YOU from finding Him. Have faith! He’s going to draw those “heathens” to Himself using their environment—just as He’s drawing you to Him using yours! Remember: the Lord’s people will come from every tribe, tongue, people group, and nation—and that means EVERY (Rev 5:9).  There may not be a many in every nation who find Him, but He promises that each person has equal opportunity to search for and understand the truth, even if the circumstances are vastly different!

So, let’s talk about you… You may be pondering my story thinking: ‘My life sucks; I’ve tried to kill myself too; why wouldn’t He have spoken to me audibly?’ Or perhaps you just don’t feel like you hear Him and are wondering if maybe He didn’t “choose you” (He did: 2 Peter 3:9!).

Let me encourage you in this: if you are thinking about the Lord—even to wonder if He doesn’t exist—if you are asking yourself all the difficult questions about who He is, and why He did or didn’t do something, or whatever, then you ARE being pursued by the Lord. He is trying to talk to you! You may have so much traffic, so many voices, in your spirit that you’re confused about which voice is His, but KEEP LISTENING, keep seeking answers! You don’t need the audible voice of God, you just need an attentive ear!