Idolatry Anyone?

I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.  You shall have no other gods before me.  Deut. 5:6-7 ESV

Of course, this is the first of the commandments (Hebrew: words) God gives to the Israelites through Moses.  Having other gods (idolatry) is a theme that comes up again and again in Scripture.  Observing our own lives in an honest way, we’re forced to recognize this sin.  All too often, I believe we simply rationalize our sin and claim, “I’m only human” or some other lame excuse.  But the command remains the command.

While reading Jeremiah 3 this morning, I was reminded of what idolatry is like towards God.  The prophet uses the analogy of a prostitute, a harlot, or a whore.  Those terms are graphic for a reason.  Every time we choose our own path, every time we choose to rebel, every time we choose a temporary desire over God’s will, we are idolatrous people.  There are consequences for idolatry.  Israel had been taken captive.  But Judah failed to watch and learn.  They continued down the same path as their “sister” to the North.  Take a moment to read Jeremiah 3 and especially notice verse 8.

How often do we have the opportunity to learn from the past but choose to continue our wayward ways?  And there are consequences for our sin.  Why should we be surprised when God allows us to face those things?

The latter part of Jeremiah 3 is interesting.  Although Israel had faced the consequences for their rebellion, they were considered “more righteous” than their neighbor to the South.  Amazing!  They were the first to face discipline but those who didn’t pay heed to God’s goodness faced even greater discipline.  Despite their rebellion, God continued to reach out to His people.  Can I get an “Amen!”?  He promised redemption, restoration, and peace if they would only repent and return to a relationship with Him.  But to return would mean to leave the idols behind.

What are your idols?  They may not be wood or stone.  They may not be bad things.  But anything more important than God – notice “anything” – is idolatry.  Look back at the first commandment.  It’s clear for a reason.  Now what idols do you need to eliminate?  What takes precedence in your life?  People?  Places?  Things?  They all pale in comparison to what God offers.  And the good news is just like Israel and Judah, God continues to reach out to you and I as well.  Let’s not be slow learners.  Let’s be quick about repenting, destroying our idols, and returning to God and the life He has for us.  May it be so!

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