One evening I was driving back to campus listening to a sermon on the radio. The speaker focused on the idolatry of the Israelites after they were rescued out of Egypt. I suddenly got this startling image: If Yahweh walked into our house or bedroom, what kind of gods or images would He find? What if, in a jealous rage, the Lord of all creation tore the posters from our walls, threw away the books from our shelves, and obliterated our TV and gaming system?
Don’t get ahead of me. Exodus 34:14 tells us that even the name of God is Jealous. Two out of the 10 commandments emphasize worshiping gods and material things. It continues to boggle my mind no matter how many times the Israelites saw, felt, and even heard the glory of the God of the universe, they still had trouble staying away from idolatry. If we think that our hearts will magically change once we witness a miracle, read Exodus and think again.
The next statement I heard spoke to me deeply. “If the Lord isn’t Lord of all, then He isn’t Lord at all.” How can the Lord be in control of our lives if we continue to put other things before Him? Putting dependence on anything except God is putting our faith and trust elsewhere. Usually these things that we trust in life fail us like losing a job, a role model that makes a makes a mistake, or an electronic that stops working.
The reason God couldn’t lead the Israelites directly to the Promised Land was because they had too much of Egypt’s culture and practices that displeased God. They acted how the culture wanted them to act; therefore, God had to try and purge the idolatry from their hearts. Those who rebelled against God died because God doesn’t play around.
I love how the Bible is so applicable to life. Just because we don’t live in Egypt doesn’t mean we haven’t adopted the wicked ways of our culture. God needs to rid us from the ways of this world and faith in it so that we can enter into the Promised Land, Heaven.
We will always be tempted with idols, big and small. Millions of idols surround us every day and they won’t be going anywhere anytime soon. Our job as Christians is to overcome the things in our lives that take God’s place. Not sure what your idol is? Just think of the object, the activity, the person in your life that you give more attention to than God.
Our Father has given us the natural desire to worship and treasure things, but that desire should always be guided towards Him, the one who knitted us in our mother’s womb and died so that we could forever be together. He wants to be worshiped, He wants to be glorified. After all, He gives us gifts, blessings, freedom, comfort, and life itself. He is most certainly worthy of our praise!
PS. If you want to learn more about overcoming idolatry, check out my post “5 Ways to Eliminate Your Golden Calf”
Exodus 20:3-6, 1 John 5:21, Colossians 3:5, Leviticus 19:4, 1 Corinthians 10:14, Psalm 139:13