All day long I have held out my hands to an obstinate people, who walk in ways not good, pursuing their own imaginations — a people who continually provoke me to my very face, offering sacrifices in gardens and burning incense on altars of brick;
Imagine for a moment you caught your wife or husband, your boyfriend or girlfriend whom you were commited to cheating, flirting and arousing your jealousy without any regard for how you felt, and with great audacity, they thought you did not mean what you said when you broke off the relationship or divorced them.
These people were chosen as God’s special inheritance and He was good to them, he saved them countless time from their enemies and provided for them. He established them in the Promised Land, modern Israel.
Since I am a man, I will write from male skin, but i suppose if I caught my wife with another man’s hands on her, I would be aroused to indignation and great jealousy. What if whoever the man was that catches his wife or lady he has commited to be loyal to and possibly marry, what if he treat her well and bought her sweet tokens of his affection like jewelry, flowers, and he tried his hardest to treat her like a lady, and was romantic. Suppose he would run to her rescue when she was in a bad spot and spend hours trying to comfort her when she was sad. Yet suppose one day, she finds him dull and unexciting and has some “side excitement” she finds more “fun” and suppose not only that, she has let other men who would not even value her enough to make sacrifices to show her how much she is worth but she lets them just put their filthy hands all over her.
Yet Israel time and time again through the prophets was likened to a whore, or an unfaithful wife. The Bible uses many analogies to describe Israel’s and Judah’s love affairs with other gods. They cuddled in the arms of their idols and undressed for foreign gods. So, the Lord broke up with them. He basically said, “Ok then, run to your lover boys and they are later going to defile you ans turn on you, humiliate you and make a sport of you for your whorish ways!”
So it was, the Babylonians finally marched against Jerusaelem and Judah and took her captive as a slave subjected to the reign of the kings of Babylon. Yet the Lord did patiently give them time to change but eventually made good on his promise and they dwelt as foreigners in a strange land not their own for 70 years. Finally God came back to her and restored her and planted her once again.
What can we learn? Idols are in all our hearts and we may use the analogy above just to make a case. Yet God of course wants our total devotion and trust- after all, he is worth it. Yet idolatry of the heart makes us desire this, or trust that, or long for such and such more so then God and Jesus Christ himself. Everytime we sin, we in essence kiss the hands of idols. Because we choose to delight more in sin at that moment then what God can give us in his presence!
You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. Or do you think Scripture says without reason that he jealously longs for the spirit he has caused to dwell in us? But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. (James 4:4-10)
So, here is the deal, when we have a choice between God’s ways and closeness to God versus the Worldly ways of sin, self and pride, when we choose the World over God, we make love to an idol in our heart! When we chase wealth as our number one pursuit or let greed put his grubby hands on our hearts, we are unfaithful to the Lord. Or when the man chooses to let his eyes lust after firbid fruit, he in those moments says, “God your not enough or exciting me enough right now so Im going to look at lustful pleasures.” Or when we in pride choose our ways, our feelings, our wants and grumble because we do not get our way, we say, “God you are not enough now and I am going to do what I want.”
Now wish I could say that I am free of idols entirely but no, my sinful tendencies are a daily “put to death” to do list- but we do it in His power and not human strength.
One prime way idols can flourish is if we let our joy im the Lord burn down to embers and refuse to feed the fire with time in God’s presence enjoying him, time in His Word learning more from him and connectedness in prayer.
When we fail to cultivate a love for God we are more emotionally vulnerable to a spiritual affair with idols we create. Yet let us always seek to regularly be refreshed in his presence for
As Scripture says “The joy of the Lord is your strength.”
That is where the power flows, a delight in God that overpowers cravings for sin and dominant fear. The Power to be bold in our witness also comes from closeness to Jesus! Otherwise we like Peter did deny we know him by keeping quiet for fear of being made fun of- Ever were in love with someone you were thrilled about and bragged to everyone over yet then they acted embarrased to be seem around their friends with you, at no fault of your own? Well does not feel good. And another case like that is those onry adolescents embarrassed to be seem with the parents who do not let them starve/ let us be faithful also to the Lord!
See Pt 3