Faithless Israel, False Judah
by Ayodeji Jeremiah
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Isaiah 44: 9-20
The above passage is probably the most sarcastic passage in the whole of the Bible. It talks about the folly of idolatry. In modern day Christianity the moment you mention the word idolatry, peoples’ minds tends to go to pagan worshippers but it is much more than that. An idol is defined by the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary as (1) A person or thing that is greatly loved or admired (emphasis mine). (2) An image of a god, often carved in stone or wood and used as an object of worship (which we are more used to). Why did the publishers of the dictionary place the first definition before the second more popular definition? Was it a mistake or an oversight? I personally don’t think so. In our world today that is so overtly immoral, greedy, materialistic, sex crazed, phony, parvenu and godless the first definition fits in with our generation. It is quite common to hear our press people asking the question “May we know who your idol is?” so harmlessly and the respondent answers so innocently “My idol is…”
Anything that we depend on to make life work, anything that constitutes the real source of our dependence other than God, whatever we have put that takes God’s place in our lives and whatever we worship (honour, homage, reverence, devotion, adoration) either directly or indirectly is an idol. Whatever we trust in to satisfy our souls other than God is an idol. It could be success, money, academic achievements, freedom, a car, reputation, service, children, hubby, work, a pastor, a church, the quest for wisdom and a ‘harmless’ hobby. The shrine of these idols is in our hearts and doesn’t need to be a physical shrine just as God’s temple in the New Covenant is in our hearts and not a physical temple. Our idolatry most of the times develops in our subconscious and can be seen ethereally in our speech, conduct and attitudes. The root of our idolatry is the question, “Can God really make my life work the way I want it”? The root of our idolatry is misplaced dependency on created things rather than on the Creator Himself. God cannot tolerate any rival in His universe and gives us the opportunity to get rid of the idols in our lives by our own volition. Otherwise we leave Him no other choice than to topple these idols by Himself. Idolatry was the number one sin that led to the downfall and destruction of Israel and Judah. Faithlessness on the part of Israel and falseness on the part of Judah led to their idolatry. False Judah was pronounced guiltier than faithless Israel because they played their idolatry alongside their ‘worship’ of God. God sees idolatry as harlotry on our part. (See also Jeremiah 3: 6-14, Jeremiah 10: 3-16, Ezekiel 6,and Ezekiel 8)
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