Let me share a little story to get things rolling.
There’s this guy who forgets his coat somewhere and forgot where. He goes to the store and finds out a replacement coat cost $250 bucks.
Astonished he goes to a church to sit and think what to do. He enters the church and hears the sermon going on.
As he passes the coat rack he sees a coat identical to his own. He plots to wait for the end of the sermon then to make off with the coat.
He sits and listens to the preacher. The preacher then starts to recite the Ten Commandments. After the sermon the man goes to the preacher and says, “Thank you I was about to commit a terrible sin. I was plotting to steal a coat because I lost my own. Then I heard you recite the Ten Commandments and changed my mind.”
“Oh,” said the preacher you must have heard me say, “thou shalt not steal.” “No,” says the man “I heard you say thou shalt not commit adultery and I remembered where my coat was.”
WowJ Just goes to show that people can hear the Word of God and not have heart change. It goes to show that people can hear the Word of God and determine that some sins are worse than others (when God says they are all the same).
God gave the Israelite Nation 10 Commands that would govern them as they would enter into the Promised Land – 10 Commands given to them by their God who was to be their King, their leader – 10 Commands that if followed would be a hedge of protection (a circle of protection and prosperity for them as a nation).
The Israelite Nation was leaving a land of paganism (EGYPT) and entering into a land of paganism (CANAAN) – a land with many gods and practices. So God wanted to make clear to them that they must be a culture that doesn’t participate in the pagan practices of the Gentiles – that they must be set apart and distinguishable – that they must live with conviction and participate in God’s ways. Why? All so that the Gentiles could see that there is only one God, and He is the God of the Israelites.
And so going into this land of “milk and honey” they were going to find cultural practices that went against God’s will. So the 10 Commandments was God’s way of showing them His Will.
And the first will was: “You left a land and are going into a land where the people have many gods; moon gods, sun gods, fertility gods, etc., and you are to know that I am the only God – the one true God. You are to follow Me and Me only.”
Now the second will goes right along with the first one. You see, people, who usually have other gods, build or craft things to provide them an image of that god. It seems that having something to hold in hand or to bow down to provides a sense of power and authority in the object. Yet the object itself has no power.
So because of this, God gave His 2nd Command: “You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of any thing 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 generations of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.”
God’s 2nd Command summarized is this: “You shall not make an idol, nor worship it.”
Idol worship is still prevalent today in every culture, which shows that idols can take the place of the one true God very easily. And when something or someone is given authority or power that only God can have, THEN IT BECOMES AN IDOL.
Modern day idols, even in the Church, exist. When we pray to holy statues, when we trust in the power of beads, when we look to horoscopes, psychics, and palm readers for answers, when the image becomes more than a symbol and is given power and trust to provide the answer, we have created a modern day idol.
But, I want you to think about this, one of the biggest idols in our culture is not a statue, it is the idol of self. (I have created this, I have done this, I can take care of myself, I want this)
So when we worship idols, or even idolize ourselves, we are participating in pagan worship.
God said that the effects of worshiping something or someone else other than Him, worshiping an idol, would result in consequences that will last to 3 and 4 generations. As He said, He is a jealous God, and He literally punished the Israelites when they hated Him – He punished them when they walked away from Him to pursue the gods and practices of the pagans. (Just read the OT and the many times the Israelites were slaughtered and taken into captivity for their rebellion against God).
Yet today, idol or pagan worship, doesn’t result in immediate, swift judgment from God as prescribed in the 10 Commandments. God still judges, but not necessarily in the forms of national captivity or catastrophic events to 3 and 4 generations. Now He keeps individual records that will be judged in the Day of Christ’s Return.
Ezekial 18: 14-18 states, “But suppose this son has a son who sees all the sins his father commits, and though he sees them, he does not do such things: ……. He will not die for his father’s sin; he will surely live. But his father will die for his own sin, because he practiced extortion, robbed his brother and did what was wrong among his people.”
So, if I want to worship idols, while being part of the family of God through Christ, my children won’t be judged for my sins – they are accountable for their own choices. Yet the effects of my sin might carry on for generations causing them harm and pain.
What I mean is this. If my sins are addiction and abuse, my children are apt to see this as normal and carry on the sin into their lives and their children’s lives. If my sins are worshiping idols or ideology or self, then my children and grandchildren are going to do what I have modeled for them, unless the true God gets hold of them and shows them the true way.
What I love though is that God doesn’t focus on being an angry, judgmental God. No, He focuses on the fact that our love to Him is shown through our obedience to His commands, and that this obedience will result in His love (safety, security, prosperity) for a thousand (a lot of) generations.
Hear that again: God wants to bless, not curse.
But to receive that blessing, there is a condition, and that condition is our obedience, which shows our love for Him.
If I say I love God, but it’s not shown through my actions, God knows I don’t really love Him. MY OBEDIENCE PROVES MY LOVE.
God created the 10 Commandments so that those who will stay within them will see the effects of His love. Those who stray outside them will lose that protection and find themselves in harms way.
Take some time and read Isaiah 44: 14 – 20. It shows the absurdness of worshiping idols and false gods.
Yet despite how absurd it seems to worship idols, man still finds ways to put God on the back burner for other things and superstitions. As the scripture says, it’s so absurd to think that the same wood used to provide warmth through a fire can also be made into a god that man thinks will provide him with answers to his circumstances. But that’s what Satan has done, created a blurred vision of who God really is so that we create our own images of Him.
So have you been or are you worshiping other gods (anything that takes the place of or preference over the one true God)? That was the question from Commandment 1 that I asked last week. And if so, repent and worship the One True God.
But now, Commandment 2 asks, Do you have idols in your heart and in your home?
If so, get rid of them. Destroy them.
In the days of the Bible when a tribe became convicted of their idol worship – that they were replacing God with idols – they brought their idols into the town square and made a bonfire to destroy them. I say this because if you have idols/pagan images in your home, your repentance is to destroy them publicly. But if your idol is self, wanting what you want, desiring the things and practices of this pagan culture, then you must let your repentance be in your obedience to His commands. You must show your repentance because mere words are not repentance. REPENTANCE IS ACTION.
Following God’s Commandments are not for His benefit, but yours. I hope you decide today to live within His circle of security. He’s promised to favor you for a long long time if you will.