Hamburger in the Honey Bucket

by Tad Lindley

For those who are reading on the internet or get the Delta Discovery in the lower 48 and who might be unfamiliar with the term “honey bucket”, let me explain. Where we live, the level of the groundwater is so high due to permafrost, that it is not practical to have an outhouse (outhouses are definitely preferable). Therefore houses without plumbing use honey buckets. A honey bucket is a 5 gallon plastic bucket that fills the place of the toilet. When it is near capacity, it is carried out of the house and dumped in a container which is later hauled to the sewage lagoon or into a wooden structure and allowed to seep into the ground depending upon your setup. It is even rumored that sometimes they have gotten dumped directly into rivers, creeks, or ponds. (Thanks to the Rev. Jeff Arnold who said in a sermon out there in cyber space something like, “Kill the calf and eat the hamburger”, which is where I got the seeds of this thought.)

Where the hamburger came from

Remember in Exodus 32 when Moses went up on Mt. Sinai and God gave him the commandments written on stone tablets? Then when he came down from the mountain he threw the tablets on the ground, shattering them? But do you know what it was that caused him to throw the commandments on the ground and become the first one to break all of the commandments? Well it turns out that Israelites had gotten tired of waiting for Moses to come down the mountain (he was up there for 40 days). So they asked Moses’ brother, Aaron, to make them a statue to worship. Aaron collected golden jewelry from the people and made a golden calf.

Making hamburger

In case you have always been a vegetarian, let me explain what hamburger is. Hamburger is the meat of an animal that is ground up so it is much easier to eat. Most hamburger sold in the United States comes from cattle, but many people make it from moose and caribou as well. Moses took the calf the people had made and burned it in the fire; then he ground it to powder, scattered it on the water and made the Israelites drink it. (Exodus 32:20 NIV). The next day, the Israelites had passed the golden hamburger into their honey buckets.

Harvesting hamburger from the honey bucket

At this writing the price of gold is $1,675 per ounce. Let’s say that you were an Israelite in those days, and that your family’s share of that golden calf was a couple of ounces of gold. Would you dig through your family’s honey bucket to recover as much of the ground up gold as you could? Or would you just dump the honey bucket and move on with life? What would you do?

Dump it

Statue worship is wrong. We are not to worship images or statues ever. The Bible is extremely clear about this: And God spoke all these words:

“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.

“You shall have no other gods before me.

“You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below.You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God… (Exodus 20:1-5 NIV) I hope it is obvious to you that worshipping a golden calf is wrong, but in the same passage of scripture it quite plainly reveals that even making an image of an angel is sin. The golden calf represents the sin of Israel. In fact God was so upset, he wanted to kill them all and start over with Moses, but Moses being a good pastor, interceded for them and God changed his mind (Exodus 32:9-14).

They dug back through the honey bucket!

Because of their sin, the Israelites almost died at the hand of God. When we have had a narrow escape and God has spared us, we ought never ever to go back and dig through the wreckage of our past. Listen, if God has delivered you from the dead end road of tramadol, or alcohol, or heroin, or marijuana, or pornography, or gambling, or prostitution, or bowing down to statues, don’t you dare trick yourself into going back to it. “But Brother Lindley, I have back pain…” I know you do. We all have physical and emotional pain, but that is not a license to go digging through the honey bucket of our past sin and ________. (Fill in your blank with your greatest temptation). The God who delivered us from that is great enough to sustain us through our current valley!

Don’t look back

As gross as it seems, Israel went back to the sin; they picked up the hamburger in the honey bucket. II Kings 17:7-17 is just one of many examples of a time when the nation of Israel fulfilled the proverb: “A dog returns to its vomit,” and, “A sow that is washed returns to her wallowing in the mud.” (II Peter 2:22 NIV) If God has delivered you from sin, dump that honey bucket, and don’t ever look back!

Tad Lindley is a minister at the United Pentecostal Church in Bethel, Alaska.

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