I’m trying to make a concerted effort to read my Bible more often, especially specific books in the Old Testament. While I’ve read and been a part of many studies concerning the more popular historical events of the Old Testament, I haven’t spent as much time as I should delving into the more obscure books or stories. All of God’s word is beneficial (2 Timothy 3:16-17), and I’ve found one such passage that may really shed some light on our distinct ability to not always give God our best.
Have you ever wondered why we human beings tend to settle? Maybe it’s a learned behavior, maybe it’s comfortable, maybe it’s just ingrained in our psyche to take the easy way out. For whatever reason, we seem to find satisfaction in the pleasures of this world; just a simple case of instant gratification. It would be proper at this juncture to mention that it was God himself who created this world and he meant for us to enjoy it, but our propensity for sin has us usually settling for less than the best God has to offer. Sin has a way of doing that doesn’t it? It always promises great things and always under-delivers on those promises.
I believe one of the most insidious sins and one in which we all partake in, whether we want to admit it or not, is idolatry. This isn’t the golden calf or graven image kind of idolatry of our predecessors. We’re too smart for that right? No, it’s the kind of idolatry where we rob God of what he truly deserves…us! We may not realize we rob God, but we do almost every day when we settle for the world instead of relishing a relationship with Him. When we look forward to our next vacation more than we do our next opportunity to worship, we are robbing God. When we’re more satisfied with alcohol or money or sports or sex than we are with God, we have effectively stolen ourselves from him. It’s like an act of adultery to be betrothed to our perfect Savior Jesus Christ, and then find more pleasure in the arms of our vices. Just think about these examples of how people sell out to the world.
- Esau sold his birthright for a bowl of stew.
- Samson sold his secret of strength for a one-night stand.
- David sold his integrity for another man’s wife.
- Judas sold his very own soul for only thirty pieces of silver.
What do you sell in your life to gain your own personal desires? You may say you don’t, but I bet the price is far lower than you think. Even Jesus asked, “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul” (Matthew 16:26)? Apparently, he knew that we all must pay with something. Pay with your soul to gain the world, and you lose out on any inheritance in Christ. Pay with a sacrificial life to gain God (Matthew 16:24-25), and you will indeed gain an everlasting life with him.
Now, back to that passage in the Old Testament I was referring to earlier. The text is found in Ezekiel chapter 8 and it’s an interesting foreshadow of our world today. Ezekiel is showed a vision of how idolatry had taken over the temple of God. His own people were committing great abominations in the very sight of God and they reached a point of arrogance about it (Ezekiel 8:12). God referred to these acts of sin as idol worship and described them as the “idol that provokes to jealousy” (Ezekiel 8:3). Our God is a jealous God (Exodus 34:14) and he doesn’t want us to settle. He has, time and again, proven his faithfulness and love, and his children continue to turn their noses up at his grace and mercy.
Are we any different? Sadly, I don’t think so. Even worse, WE are the temple of the holy God today (1 Corinthians 3:16). There is no building or ark of the covenant that God resides in. He lives within each of his children, so you can imagine the hurt he feels when we put idols above our Father. We commit acts of idolatry every day if we put anything before God. We create the very idol that “provokes to jealousy,” and God is left disappointed that we don’t give him the glory he deserves.
What idols are you using to rob God? Is there anything in your life that you’ve sold out for, anything that has taken a seat on the throne where God deserves to be? Remember your first love (Revelation 2:4) and don’t allow Satan and this world to distract you from the God who has given you everything you’ll ever need.