Monday, March 12, 2007

Beware of graven images: Dt 4:9-24

“Only give heed to yourself and keep your soul diligently, so that you do not forget the things which your eyes have seen and they do not depart from your heart all the days of your life; but make them known to your sons and your grandsons. Remember the day you stood before the Lord your God at Horeb, when the Lord said to me, ‘Assemble the people to Me, that I may let them hear My words so they may learn to fear Me all the days they live on the earth, and that they may teach their children.’ You came near and stood at the foot of the mountain, and the mountain burned with fire to the very heart of the heavens: darkness, cloud and thick gloom. Then the Lord spoke to you from the midst of the fire; you heard the sound of words, but you saw no form -- only a voice. So watch yourselves, that you do not forget the covenant of the Lord your God which He made with you, and make for yourselves a graven image in the form of anything against which the Lord your God has commanded you. For the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.” (Deuteronomy 4:9-12, 23-24)

God revealed His voice to His people but not His form. God was very careful to not reveal Himself to Israel in a form that they could later craft into an idol. In some ways, it is hard to believe in, and follow, a God you cannot see. When Moses had gone up into the mountain to receive the Ten Commandments, he stayed so long that the people began to worry. With Moses gone, who would lead them? So the people approached Aaron with a request. “Come, make us a god who will go before us; as for this Moses, the man who brought us up from the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.” (Exodus 32:1) So Aaron complied, making a golden calf from the offering the people brought him. He presented the calf to the people and declared, “This is your god, O Israel, who brought you up from the land of Egypt.” (Exodus 32:4) Aaron even built an altar for the calf and declared a day of feasting, “Tomorrow shall be a feast to the Lord.” (Exodus 32:5) When given a choice between a living, yet unseen God, and a lifeless idol which they could see, they opted for the idol.

So why is it harder to worship a God we cannot see rather than an idol? Serving an unseen God requires thee things from us:

Faith: Paul reminds us that “we walk by faith, not by sight.” (2 Corinthians 5:7) While we walk by faith, our faith is not a blind faith; it is a faith that is based upon the Word and Faithfulness of God. Walking by faith means that we do not walk according to our own understanding, nor do we live by what we think is right or wrong. Rather, walking by faith means living according to the word of God, accepting God’s word and perspective over the evidence and perspectives of this world. Walking by faith also means that we do not live by our emotions; rather we subject our will and emotions to the will and word of God.

Relationship: God is a jealous god. More than anything else, God wants to have relationship with His people. God could have given us an idol to worship and to follow, but instead He wants us to come to His; to seek Him and to know Him. None of this is possible with an idol. “And though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory.” (1 Peter 1:8) You cannot love an idol but you can love a gracious and loving God.

Obedience: When you worship an idol, you get to make up all the rules. After all, the idol cannot speak, it cannot give commands, and it cannot check up on you to see if you’re keeping the commands. With God, however, it’s different. He speaks his words to us and commands us to obey Him. With God, we don’t get to decide what’s right or wrong, God Himself decides that. We can pay lip service to an idol, but God sees right through us into our heart. “And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.” (Hebrews 4:13) The question is, will we obey Him or follow a religion of our own choosing? As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.

David Robison

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