What brings you peace? What makes you feel secure?
Is it your home or your health or your family or your job? What would you say is the focus of your life and the center of your thoughts?
Because what you trust is what you worship.
When we read that the Israelites worshipped idols, we think, “That’s not me. I don’t bow to a statue of stone or a block of wood.” Such idolatry is so foreign to most of us that we can’t relate.
We forget, though, that the root of idolatry was an attitude of mistrust toward God. The Israelites worshipped idols because they believed that the gods of the Canaanites would give them what the God of the Universe would not. They worshipped Baal because they hoped he would make it rain, not because they particularly liked statues of bulls. They worshiped Asherah because they hoped she would give them victory in war and success in love.
Understand this: The Israelites returned to their false gods because of what the gods could give them. The God who led them out of Egypt was powerful, but He was also uncontrollable. To worship Yahweh meant giving up control.
The gods of Canaan were impotent, but at least you could tell them what to do. So they traded the one true God for the illusion of stability. They preferred gods who could be manipulated. Pray the right way, recite the right incantations, perform the correct rituals, and the Canaanite deities would do what you asked.
God would take care of them, but only on His terms. Not on their own.
So ask yourself again: Where do you look for security and peace? Because what you trust is also what you worship.
You can seek to manipulate your life so that the outcome is exactly what you want. You can pray to the gods of hard work, political activism, sexual pleasure, financial security, or worldly prestige. There are thousands of little idols you can set up in your heart. You can perform the right chants and rituals and hold onto the illusion of control.
You aren’t in control, though. The God who made heaven and earth will tolerate no pretenders to His throne. The Israelites learned that painful lesson over and over and over again. They worshipped idols, they self-destructed, they called out to God, He saved them, and then they did it all again. Time and time again.
You and I do the same. We just have a harder time admitting it. We worship God with our lips, yet in our hearts we trust our idols. He offers more than we need or deserve, but we prefer the illusion of control. And like Israel, we suffer because of our failure to trust.
The good news is that He saves us from ourselves. Just as He did for Israel, He offers us another chance. The death and resurrection of Jesus provides a permanent solution to our sin and idolatry.
And today He opens His arms and offers another chance at redemption, another day to trust Him, to purge the idols from our hearts and accept Him as our King. Through the power of His Spirit, from a foundation of grace, He calls us to worship and trust the only God who saves.
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