Denouncing Our Modern Day Idols
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, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me.
Check. I would like to pretend I have this first commandment down pat. But I would be lying. Lying to myself to you and to God. You see, I bow down to many of the same false gods the culture around me does.
False gods such as the American dream, other people's approval of me, and the idealistic body I see in images all around me. But the one I look to most often is my self-reliance - doing all the right things in my own power to be "successful." We certainly worship our self-reliance here.
Don't get me wrong. I don't want to do this but I think we often don't see these things as gods or idols. They are not much different than the false gods the Egyptians and therefore the Israelites worshipped. Their gods represented things like the sun, vegetation, fertility, and other aspects of life. They represented prosperity, and the Egyptians worshipped all of them to maximize their blessings in their life. They believed that by worshipping them they would gain security and prosperity. The good life.
Sounds similar to what we do today. We may not name them as gods, draw them into images, or carve them out of stone, but we certainly concentrate on them as the source of our meaning, security, and prosperity.
Like all false gods, however, they will let us down. When we look at our 401K retirement plan as our security and the stock market behaves much like it has recently, our security is shattered. When we look to prosperity in the form of money we trade a life of good things like family and rest for a life of striving. And from my own personal experience - when we look to our jobs as our meaning and get demoted when we expect a promotion our value is in question.
Even in this first commandment, we see God's love for us. God knows that if we look to anything besides Him for our value, security, and prosperity we will wreck our lives and be let down. Since God is the giver of all of these things no other source will ever work. But looking to them will work to ensnare and enslave us to a life that never satisfies. But looking to God for them will always bring us His blessing. It may not look like we thought, but it will always be for our good.
We need to see our idols, denounce them and turn to the living God who loves to bless His beloved children with the real abundant life.
Drink From the Well:
Throughout this week we will be digging into a parallel passage to Exodus 20:1-4 where God explains more in depth to the Israelites why they do not need any other gods. We will take it promise by promise and apply it to our own lives.
Leviticus 26:1-5 “Do not make idols or set up carved images, or sacred pillars, or sculptured stones in your land so you may worship them. I am the Lord your God. You must keep my Sabbath days of rest and show reverence for my sanctuary. I am the Lord.
“If you follow my decrees and are careful to obey my commands, I will send you the seasonal rains. The land will then yield its crops, and the trees of the field will produce their fruit. Your threshing season will overlap with the grape harvest, and your grape harvest will overlap with the season of planting grain. You will eat your fill and live securely in your own land.
The Lord tells the Israelites that if they are careful to obey Him, He will be their provider. Since they lived in a farming community without modern ways to water their crops, they relied on God to provide the necessary rains to produce a good harvest.
Who do you rely on to provide for you? If I were to answer this question honestly, especially a few years ago, the answer would be me. My hard work. I am learning to obey God more and more however and He has been faithful to provide just as promised.
Leviticus 26:6-8 - “I will give you peace in the land, and you will be able to sleep with no cause for fear. I will rid the land of wild animals and keep your enemies out of your land. In fact, you will chase down your enemies and slaughter them with your swords. Five of you will chase a hundred, and a hundred of you will chase ten thousand! All your enemies will fall beneath your sword.
The land the Israelites lived in was constantly at war. Kingdoms grew in wealth and stature by overtaking and plundering other kingdoms and people groups. Credit for winning was often given to a god's favor on the people. But God promised Israel that if they obeyed He would be the one that protected them.
Who or what do you rely on for your security and protection? Since we no longer live in a land and time of pillage and plunder this may look different so pray about this and really allow the Spirit to reveal something that you may not think you idolize.
Leviticus 26: 9-13 - “I will look favorably upon you, making you fertile and multiplying your people. And I will fulfill my covenant with you. You will have such a surplus of crops that you will need to clear out the old grain to make room for the new harvest! I will live among you, and I will not despise you. I will walk among you; I will be your God, and you will be my people. I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt so you would no longer be their slaves. I broke the yoke of slavery from your neck so you can walk with your heads held high.
Beyond material blessings and protection, God desires a relationship with us. He is the God who desires to live among us. The good Father who desires to give His beloved sons and daughters value and purpose. He breaks our chains and delivers us from slavery because He loves us.
Many of the idols that I have to continually denounce are the ones that say they will ascribe me value. Will having the perfect appearance make me more valuable? My culture says so, but God has told me again and again that it is a false god that will enslave me and let me down. Again and again, He has been right and has had to come rescue me.
Who or what do you look to provide you value or purpose?
Break Up With the World:
Matthew 6:24 - No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.
Idol worship is something humans have been prone to since the fall. Because we don't name our idols and give them identities in our culture, I think the question we need to be asking ourselves is WHAT am I looking at for meaning or value, security, and prosperity. If it is anything other than the One true God. We need to denounce it, repent, and turn back toward God. Thankfully, He is full of mercy and welcomes us back every time.
It is time to break up with idols you may be serving. There is only One God and He is madly in love with you and wants you all to Himself.
Write a breakup letter to any idols you have discovered throughout this week's contemplation.
Father, You are the One true God. There is none like you. There is no one worthy of our praise and adoration other than You. But we are prone to look for meaning, security, and provision elsewhere. Please forgive us and help us denounce any idols we may be serving. Thank you for your mercy as we turn back to you again and again. We long to serve you alone. In Jesus's name, Amen.