Forever Love – Exodus 20:4-6

“You shall not make for yourselves an image in the form of anything in heaven above or earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them, for I, the Lord your God am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations for those who love me and keep my commandments” (Exodus 20:4-6, NIV).

These verses are the 2nd Commandment of the Ten Commandments. Although I’ve read and repeated the 2nd Commandment many times, I’ve never paid much attention to the second part of the commandment, which explains the consequences of obeying or not obeying the commandment.

But, God uses the pronouncement of a curse and blessing in the 2nd Commandment to make a striking contrast between the everlasting effects of His boundless love for those who worship and obey Him with the exigency of punishment for idolators.

Noticeably, the curse and the blessing are not equally proportioned. While the curse is prolonged to three or four generations, the blessing extends to a thousand generations–that is, forever love!

The consequences of idolatry or belief are both explained with hyperbole. But, the hyperbole is even more exaggerated concerning God’s love and grace. God’s blessing for his obedient people far, far exceeds His curse on disobedient people.

Worshiping the Living God by loving and obeying Him carries a blessing that is exponentially better than is the punishment for idolatry. God showing His love to a thousand generations is the promise of eternal life!

Idolatry is the worship of something other than the Living God. God construes idolatry as animosity towards Him–hating God and making Him your enemy. When you make God your enemy, then you become His enemy.

Idolatry is like committing treason toward God, which is a spiritual crime so egregious that it carries the death penalty according to this commandment.

So, this commandment teaches us a  lesson in God’s character. Clearly, God prefers to apportion blessing rather than curse–to give life, eternal life, to the people who love and obey Him.

Because, God’s love is forever!

For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations. (Psalm 100:5, NIV)

American Idolatry – Isaiah 2

materialism“Their land has also been filled with idols; they worship the work of their hands, that which their fingers have made… The proud look of man will be abased and the loftiness of man will be humbled, and the Lord alone will be exalted in that day” (Isaiah 2:8,11, NASB).

We tend to think that idolatry is an Old Testament phenomenon. Long ago, unenlightened people made little figurines from wood or stone or they built altars in the woods or on mountaintops. To us, that’s idolatry.

We think we’re more sophisticated today, so idolatry isn’t a big problem like it was in the Old Testament. But, it’s not that idolatry isn’t as prevalent today as in the Old Testament. It’s just that our idolatry manifests itself differently. It’s more subtle…and deceptive!

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You Can’t Have It Both Ways – 1 Samuel 7:3

onewayJesus“If you are really serious about wanting to return to the Lord, get rid of your foreign gods and your images of Ashtoreth. Determine to obey only the Lord; then he will rescue you from the Philistines” (1 Samuel 7:3, NLT).

Samuel had gathered all of Israel together to repent of their idolatry and rededicate themselves to God.

While Israel was assembled, the Philistines attacked them. Samuel prayed and God helped the Israelites defeat the Philistines because they had repented and rededicated themselves to serving and obeying God. Consequently, the Philistines didn’t attack Israel again until after Saul became king.

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American Idols – Psalm 106:20-21

“They traded their glorious God for a statue of a grass-eating bull. They forgot God, their savior, who had done such great things in Egypt” (Psalm 106:20-21, NLT).

This Psalm recounts the sin and rebellion of Israel during the exodus from Egypt.

The Israelites committed a major act of idolatry while Moses was on the mountain receiving God’s law for His chosen people.

What happened to the Israelites in Egypt can happen to Christians today. It’s just that we describe it using different terminology rather than the term “idolatry.”

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