Confessions of a Church: Idolatry

The Psalm writer wrote:  Open my eyes, that I may behold Wonderful things from Your law. As we come before a Holy God and hear his word, may we have eyes open to the wonderful and fearful things from his law. May it move us to repent and seek forgiveness, fear disobedience, and live in light of the grace we have received.   This is the word of God.  It is eternally true and applicable for all of life.  
Deuteronomy 16:18-21 New American Standard Bible 1995
“You shall appoint for yourself judges and officers in all your towns which the Lord your God is giving you, according to your tribes, and they shall judge the people with righteous judgment. You shall not distort justice; you shall not be partial, and you shall not take a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and perverts the words of the righteous. ustice, and only justice, you shall pursue, that you may live and possess the land which the Lord your God is giving you.
“You shall not plant for yourself an Asherah of any kind of tree beside the altar of the Lord your God, which you shall make for yourself.
When we read the Old Testament’s warnings against idolatry, it’s important for us to apply the passage to ourselves, in our own context, to “keep it real.” The sacred pillars and Asherah poles warned about in our passage seem ancient, superstitious and backward to us, so we assume that we are clearly the superiors of the ancient Near East herdsmen who heard these words from God.

Whenever I read a warning against the worship of idols in the Old Testament, the sin that comes to my mind is the sin of pornography. Because that is our context.

Now maybe you think I’m making too much of a stretch here. Think about this: the idols that the Israelites served offered really nothing to the one who worshiped them. All of the work was coming from the Israelite men themselves. The idols themselves were just images: they could not hear, could not see, could not taste, and could not talk. Despite this one-sided and destructive relationship, these idols were a constant temptation to God’s people. They returned to them again and again and again. No matter how many warnings God gave—and if you’ve read the Old Testament you know this was a sin God warned against more than any other—the Israelites were attracted to their idols like a moth to an electric light. When their public places of worship were taken away, we are told they conducted their idol worship in secret.

We also know that, at least in some cases, the worship of these idols involved sexual immorality. The end result was weakness and apathy. The Israelites found themselves unable to speak against even the killing of their own children in the more extreme forms of idolatry.
In case you still have any lingering notion of your superiority to the Israelites in our passage, consider this truth: you have the full revelation of God in Jesus Christ. You have the New Testament. You have access to the Word of God 24/7 in your pocket. They had types and shadows. Their Bibles ended at Deuteronomy. On the day of judgment, the people addressed in our passage today will rise up and call us simpletons and fools.

If God did not spare His people in the wilderness, will He spare us? Do not be deceived: idolaters will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Let us kneel and confess how we have failed to keep God’s Law.

Heavenly Father, we confess that in our innermost thoughts and desires, in the things we read, in the movies we watch or the things we look at on the Internet, we give ourselves to idols whose only reward is our own destruction. We are lured astray for nothing at all. Like the Israelites, we are quick to leave our first love. Meanwhile, we are slow to do what is necessary to remove our high places. All the while we are taking fire into our own bosoms, believing we will not be burned. We are rich and believe we have need of nothing, but what we need is fortitude to destroy these idols and to love your discipline. For a son who is disciplined knows he is loved. Help us to buy gold refined in the fire, to turn away from serving images and serve You alone, through the grace of Your Son Jesus Christ, Who reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God. Amen.

Listen now to the comforting assurance of the grace of God, promised in the gospel to his church:  

Luke 1:68-75
Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, For He has visited us and accomplished redemption for His people, And has raised up a horn of salvation for us In the house of David His servant— As He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from of old—Salvation from our enemies, And from the hand of all who hate us; To show mercy toward our fathers, And to remember His holy covenant, The oath which He swore to Abraham our father, To grant us that we, being rescued from the hand of our enemies, Might serve Him without fear, In holiness and righteousness before Him all our days.

To all those who thus repent and seek Jesus Christ for their salvation, your sins are forgiven in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. Lift up your hearts!

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