Thursday, June 13, 2013

idolatry's net effect

In that day man will look to his Maker, and his eyes will look on the Holy One of Israel. He will not look to the altars, the work of his hands, and he will not look on what his own fingers have made, either the Asherim or the altars of incense.

Isaiah 17:7-8

The effect of God's judgment was a spiritual renewal for the Syrians. In the case of this oracle against Damascus, it showed God's love for a gentile people. After the destruction of Damascus in 732 BC, God decreed that they would look to the God of Israel. And after the Assyrian destruction of their city, they had no gods of their own left to look towards any longer.

The net effect of idolatry is destruction. When our hearts worship anything other than God, we will be destroyed from within. Stuff breaks. The things we make will unmake us if we ascribe to them worship that only belongs to God. Our idols cannot save us from this. It is the lesson of Damascus all over again.

We don't carry Asherim in our pockets. Most of us don't have shrines to the Baals in our homes. We don't carve out figures that we then worship. We don't head to temples to offer sacrifice to a statued idol. That kind of overt idolatry is not the danger that most of us in the Western World will face. Our idols are much more subtle, more personal, and more consuming of our souls.

Our society serves us the myth of fame and fortune. We enslave our incomes and our souls to the pursuit of the materialistic American Dream. We worship self destiny and human celebrity. We throw ourselves into unbridled, even thoughtless, abandon with technology, materialism, and the worship of the natural world. Gurus of self-help psychology give us self-fulfilling prayers to our own egos. We are easily the same idolaters as those Syrians in this oracle who carved Asherim. And we should remember their end. They lost their idols only with the complete destruction of their way of life. And only then did they turn to see God.

Only the hope of renewal can save us from our idols. And the sooner we look to our Maker, the better it will go for us. It starts with Christians turning from idols to serve the living God. And when we do, our hearts find what we have always wanted in Him.

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