Today’s Sermon, Idols That Provoke God’s Jealousy!
He stretched out what looked like a hand and took me by the hair of my head. The Spirit lifted me up between earth and heaven and in visions of God he took me to Jerusalem, to the entrance of the north gate of the inner court, where the idol that provokes to jealousy stood. (Ezekiel 8:3)
The idol was making God feel uncomfortable in His own temple and was driving His presence away.
And he said to me, “Son of man, do you see what they are doing—the utterly detestable things the Israelites are doing here, things that will drive me far from my sanctuary? But you will see things that are even more detestable.”
This idol the people were worshipping appears to either be in or around the very temple God had wanted to dwell in among the people. Yet they had made it so God felt uncomfortable being in the very temple that He chose to be his residing place among the people.
Earlier on Solomon had worked hard to create the first official temple to represent God’s dwelling place among the people of Israel. We see the account of this in 1 Kings 9
When Solomon had finished building the temple of the Lord and the royal palace, and had achieved all he had desired to do, the Lord appeared to him a second time, as he had appeared to him at Gibeon. The Lord said to him: “I have heard the prayer and plea you have made before me; I have consecrated this temple, which you have built, by putting my Name there forever. My eyes and my heart will always be there. “As for you, if you walk before me faithfully with integrity of heart and uprightness, as David your father did, and do all I command and observe my decrees and laws, I will establish your royal throne over Israel forever, as I promised David your father when I said, ‘You shall never fail to have a successor on the throne of Israel.’ “But if you or your descendants turn away from me and do not observe the commands and decrees I have given you and go off to serve other gods and worship them, then I will cut off Israel from the land I have given them and will reject this temple I have consecrated for my Name. Israel will then become a byword and an object of ridicule among all peoples. This temple will become a heap of rubble. All who pass by will be appalled and will scoff and say, ‘Why has the Lord done such a thing to this land and to this temple?’ People will answer, ‘Because they have forsaken the Lord their God, who brought their ancestors out of Egypt, and have embraced other gods, worshiping and serving them—that is why the Lord brought all this disaster on them.’”
1 Kings 9:1-9
As modern believers we may look at these old testament Scriptures and wonder what they have to do with our lives. Well for starters, as believers truly redeemed by the blood of Christ, we are as a people the temple. We are not a building of literal stones but people who are commited to the Lord God and made new by His precious blood shed for us on the cross. We are called to be the temple.
For one, believers are collectively the temple of God’s Spirit
Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for God’s temple is sacred, and you together are that temple. (1 Corinthians 3:16-17)
Paul was addressing the group of Corinthian believers as a whole to address the issues they were having. There was “quarrelling, competing, and lawsuits taking place among these believers”
But instead, one brother takes another to court—and this in front of unbelievers! The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means you have been completely defeated already. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated? Instead, you yourselves cheat and do wrong, and you do this to your brothers and sisters. Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
1 Corinthians 6:6-11
Paul had to remind them of who they truly were as believers and that God had saved them from all sorts of immoral lifestyles. He reminds them they are called to live differently now and not live in any of the ways he lists here.
Secondly Paul reminds them that as believers, they are as individuals God’s temple. Meaning, each of us who have been saved and born again, the Holy Spirit now lives in us as individuals also.
Paul had to address a matter of incest in the early church of Corinth that was being overlooked, brushed aside and by some even applauded. He warned them that to sin in that way was to defile God’s temple.
Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body. Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies. (1 Corinthians 6:18-20)
As individuals we too have a responsibility to get rid of everything in our lives that would make God feel uncomfortable in our daily lives. We are the temple and we cannot make God uncomfortable in His home in our lives.
Consider the people of Israel: Do not those who eat the sacrifices participate in the altar? Do I mean then that food sacrificed to an idol is anything, or that an idol is anything? No, but the sacrifices of pagans are offered to demons, not to God, and I do not want you to be participants with demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons too; you cannot have a part in both the Lord’s table and the table of demons. Are we trying to arouse the Lord’s jealousy? Are we stronger than he?
1 Corinthians 10:18-22 –
To share devotion with the Lord with an idol is to “provoke the Lord’s jealousy”- and this applies with any sin really. We are either going to be commited to follow Jesus Christ who died to forgive our sin, or we will serve our sins, but we cannot do both at the same time.
Paul uses the ancient Israelites as a historical example for the point he is trying to make.
Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them; their bodies were scattered in the wilderness. Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did. Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written: “The people sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in revelry.” We should not commit sexual immorality, as some of them did—and in one day twenty-three thousand of them died. We should not test Christ, as some of them did—and were killed by snakes. And do not grumble, as some of them did —and were killed by the destroying angel. (1 Corinthians 10:5-10)
Lets go back in Scripture to see how the Israelites did this, and we need look no further then the golden calf incident.
When Aaron saw this, he built an altar in front of the calf and announced, “Tomorrow there will be a festival to the Lord.” So the next day the people rose early and sacrificed burnt offerings and presented fellowship offerings. Afterward they sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in revelry. Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go down, because your people, whom you brought up out of Egypt, have become corrupt. They have been quick to turn away from what I commanded them and have made themselves an idol cast in the shape of a calf. They have bowed down to it and sacrificed to it and have said, ‘These are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.’
Exodus 32:5-8 –
The strange thing that Aaron said after he made the golden calf and built an altar to it was “Tomorrow will be a festival to the Lord”
Yet the key thing to realize is that God is jealous and is not ok with divided lotalty. There will be times we too could in a modern way be guilty of this sin of we are not careful. For example, we may attend church on sunday, and some may go to a mass service during the week- yet during the rest of the week if we are living in sin or not repenting of what we do wrong, mixing religious activity each week does not absolve or erase lack of obedience that we are engaged in the rest of the week.
No! We must be all in. Jesus is either Lord of all, or nothing at all. We cannot just give him a day that we will serve Him, but He wants our whole hearts and lives to be under His control.