Summary: We are plagued by our own forms of idolatry today - things which can draw us away from God
Sermon by Donald R. Hart – Antioch Christian Church, Pittsburg, Missouri – March 25, 2007
(All Scripture quoted is from the NIV unless otherwise noted)
Text: Jeremiah 10:11-16
Since the beginning of time the devil has been trying to get man’s allegiance diverted from Almighty God to whomever or to whatever he could. That was really the problem in the Garden of Eden as his ploy to Eve was that if she would eat then she too would be like God, thus taking away from God’s supremacy.
God knows that man is easily distracted by the things that surround him and especially those things involving his fleshly nature. Self-indulgence has always had a stronger pull than self-discipline for mankind.
I suppose that is why when God gave the Ten Commandments He listed as Number One –
“You shall have no other gods before me.” (Exodus 20:3)
He then followed that with the Second one which clarified the prohibition of the first -
4 “You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. 5 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 fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing love to a thousand [generations] of those who love me and keep my commandments.”
One time when Jesus was asked a question about The Law he answered this way in Matthew 22:37-40: 37 Jesus replied: "’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ’Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that if you are going to put God first in your heart, soul and mind, you do not have any “wiggle room” for anything or anyone else to supplant the place of God in your life or actions. But we know it isn’t that simple for we are bombarded with conflicting allegiances and through the ages man has succumbed to some form of idolatry.
Our text today is just a part of a dissertation by Jeremiah to the people of Judah exposing their sins and especially their involvement with idolatry. Today in this message I want to talk about idolatry – past and present and to also talk about the God who made everything and who should be taking first place in our lives.
I. ACKNOWLEDGING IDOLS OF THE PAST
Idolatry has reared its ugly head in every generation because, as I said in the beginning, the devil wants to divert attention away from God Almighty, the true creator of mankind.
Idolatry in Israel took a number of forms, with the golden calf by Aaron, along with the subsequent involvement with the different forms of Baal.
Baal worship prevailed much in Israel, except during Gideon’s judgeship (hence called Jerubbaal, "let Baal plead"), up until Samuel’s time. At Samuel’s reproof they put away this worship for a period of time (1 Samuel 7:4).
Solomon brought back Ashtoreth worship in order to please his foreign wives. Ahab, king of Israel, under Jezebel’s influence (who was the daughter of Ethbaal, priest of Baal and king of Zidon), established the worship of Baal and Asherah, also known as “the groves” (1 Kings 16:31-33; 18:19-22). For a time the prophet Elijah successfully resisted it. His influence and that of King Jehoshaphat produced its effect on through the reign of Jehu. However, for the most part idolatry prevailed until the Lord in vengeance removed the ten tribes from their land.
Notice 2 Kings 17:16-18 - 16 They forsook all the commands of the Lord their God and made for themselves two idols cast in the shape of calves, and an Asherah pole. They bowed down to all the starry hosts, and they worshiped Baal. 17 They sacrificed their sons and daughters in the fire. They practiced divination and sorcery and sold themselves to do evil in the eyes of the Lord, provoking him to anger.
18 So the Lord was very angry with Israel and removed them from his presence. Only the tribe of Judah was left…
Baal worship also found an entrance into Judah under King Ahaz (2 Chronicles 28:2-3), but it was suppressed by Hezekiah (2 Kings 18:4). King Manasseh sought to bring Judah to the same state of Baal worship as Israel had been under Ahab, but King Josiah made a thorough eradication it during his reign. As you continue reading the history of Judah you find that it was still a problem and that is why Jeremiah of our text is lashing out against it. Finally, during Jeremiah’s time, God used Babylon to bring His people into captivity and to purge from them the practice of idol worship.