Hunting, Fishing and Worshipping God
Yesterday I was talking to a friend who has recently started to read the Bible. He’s in Exodus and has reached the point where Moses has gone up on the mountain of the Lord. The Israelites took that time to build an idol to worship god.
Aaron, Moses brother, created a golden calf for them to worship. I find it interesting that the golden calf was not created to represent a “false god.” The people were not inventing a new god or new religion. The True God, Yahweh, was the God who had brought them out of Egypt, and had freed them from slavery and this is the God they chose to represent by the golden calf.
When Aaron had created the idol for them to worship he told them “This is your god, O Israel, that brought you out of the land of Egypt!” The calf did not represent a new god or a false god, but the True God and because of this the Israelites were severely punished. Thousands of them died there at the foot of the Mountain of the Lord, because they attempted to worship the true God in a blasphemous manner.
I live in a part of the country where hunting and fishing are very popular. I can’t count the times I’ve heard hunters and fishermen say that they are better able to worship God sitting in a deer stand or while fishing at one of our numerous lakes, bayous or rivers.
Louisiana is blessed with an abundance of fish and wildlife. I was proud to learn of few years ago that some animal rights group had declared that we in Louisiana were number one in the nation at what they called (referring to hunting) the “cavalcade of cruelty.”
While I am not very good at either one, I do enjoy both hunting and fishing. When engaged in these activities I’m often awed by God’s creation. Creation is filled with beauty and majesty, and I have often found myself, when sitting on a deer stand or in a boat, praising God for all that he has made and the beauty of what He has made.
Still, as beautiful as these things are, God has prescribed that we are to worship Him in a certain way on a certain day. Worship of the True God on the Lord’s Day, according to His Word, is to be with the Assembly of the Lord (i.e. His Church). He has not given us authority to change the place of worship to a deer stand in the woods or a bass boat on a bayou. The Lord has not said we may trade assembled worship in with his church for personal worship while on a deer stand alone, or while reeling in a bass or redfish with a buddy or two.
It does not honour God to ignore what he says about when and how we are to worship Him. It is false worship when we ignore what God says and then try to worship him “our way.” Even though today we are not making gold statues, God is no more impressed by modern means of idolatry than he was by the ancient forms of idolatry.
We are to worship Yahweh (the God of the Bible) as he says, and not as we choose. We are to live our life coram Deo (before the face of God) and we should praise and worship god while both hunting and fishing, because these are good things that he has blessed us with. But the Lord has told us not to forsake the assembling of His people. We are to worship God as the Covenant people of God assembled before His thrown.
On Sunday mornings we are not to be a bunch of lone Jeremiah Johnson’s (i.e. rugged individuals). Instead we are to be the people of God who gather/assemble to worship Him in songs, prayers, preaching (homilies) and receiving the sacraments as a community of believers.