Saturday, November 19, 2011
I struggle to imagine this scene - just a few months after the climatic conclusion of the plagues in Egypt and the crossing of the Red Sea, Israel is worshipping at the feet of a golden calf. Moses had disappeared on the mountain to receive instructions from God, but the length of his absence had shaken the faith of the people. Actually, he had only been gone 40 days, and considering they didn't make this idol overnight, their disobedience was a lot quicker than I think we realize.
So why a golden calf? Because idol worship was all they knew. It was what they had grown up with - the idol worship of the Egyptians had rubbed off on the Israelites. It became comforting and acceptable to the children of God.
So, look at your idol list. How many of your idols have you grown up with? Do you see your sin as being a mirror image of your parents' sin? Or worse than that, look at your children. Do you see your sin and your idol worship being developed in their lives? Scary.
What did Moses do when he saw the idol? He tore it down. Actually, he tore it down, ground it up, poured it into the Israelites' water source and forced them to drink it. Wow. Tough.
What did Gideon do to the idols in his father's town? He tore it down.
What did Josiah do to the pagan temples when he became king? He tore it down.
What did God do when the Philistines took the ark of the covenant from Israel and placed it in the house of Dagon, their false god? He tore it down.
Do you see a theme here? Once you've identified the idols in your life, you've GOT to deal with them.
There's another example from the Old Testament, but it's not a good one. When Jacob packed up his two wives and their handmaidens and his children to head back to Israel, one of his wives stole her father's idols and hid them. On the outside she acted as if she was in complete submission to the God of her husband, but secretly she longed for the protection of her father's idols.
Hiding your idols is not enough. Putting them in the basement isn't tearing them down. If you've ever seen the movie Fireproof, I love the scene where the main character takes his computer out of his house, puts it in the garbage and then takes a bat to it. You see, even in the garbage can there was a temptation to retrieve it. But once the bat had done its work, there was nothing left to run to - complete destruction.
Unfortunately most of us believe that we can manage our idol worship with the idol still in the house. Especially if it is housed in a computer or television. It would be too costly to deal with that idol and others would be affected, as well...as if the cost of idol worship isn't high enough and others aren't affected by it already...
So how exactly do we facilitate the destruction of our idols?