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No Other Gods!

April 19, 2008 Leave a comment

The first word shatters the illusion of strength and freedom, revealing the slavery our idolatry has produced. In Deuteronomy, Moses repeatedly warns against worshiping other gods. Finally, in his prophetic song to the people (Deuteronomy 32), Moses reveals that these “other gods” are not gods at all. They are “foolish idols.” Developing Moses’ revelation, the prophets will mock the idols that people worship as God.

In order to prepare his people to bless the whole world (Genesis 12), God must free them from the enslaving results of worshiping the creature instead of the Creator. Paul picks up on this theme in Romans 1, revealing that worshiping the creature distorts our desires, our thoughts and our actions. We are no longer free to bless freely but we become enslaved to the idol that now controls us.

God sends Israel to Egypt to become a nation (Deut. 26:5), but this land of plenty becomes a land of oppression. At some point, a new Pharaoh forgets the covenant with Joseph and begins to oppress and control the Israelites. We also learn that at some point, the Hebrews begin to trust in the gods of Egypt instead of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Joshua 24.14).

In the land of provision, they lost site of the God of provision. Egypt is the place where God chose to bless and test Israel, but Egypt is only a place of provision not the person of provision. As I meditate upon the ancient Hebrews failing to trust God in the land of plenty, I become ever aware of my own idolatry.

Often I’ve confused the place of provision with the person of provision. Forgetting that God is blessing and meeting my physical, emotional, and spiritual needs, I’ve looked to the place as the true provider. I’ve done it in the workplace, and I’ve done it in relationships.

Both in the workplace and in the ministry, I sometimes sought for provision that God was bringing from other places. For instance, we all need encouragement and affirmation (this is clear throughout several of Paul’s letters). There have been times I’ve struggled with discouragement in work and ministry because I didn’t receive the affirmation in the specific place. He was bringing it in other places like in my relationship with my wife Kelly, but not in the ministry or in the workplace.

One night I couldn’t even sleep because I was discouraged about my job. As I sat up and began to reflect upon Scripture, He immediately convicted me of trusting other gods. Just as Israel was prone to trust in the power of the horse (Egypt), I find myself not trusting that God will provide all my needs–in the places that He chooses. Sometimes that provision looks like manna (what is it?) and other times it looks more like field waiting to be plowed.

As long as we are trusting other gods to provide our emotional needs, our physical/financial needs, or even our spiritual needs, we will be subject to oppression and slavery. And worse, the image of God in us will be distorted. If we are ever to rule as kings and priests, bringing the blessing of Abraham to the whole world, we must be freed to the control of other gods.

We must be free to trust on YHWH (the Covenant God) alone. Then we are free to move as He pleases. Then we are free to have or to have not, to prosper or to suffer, we are free to rejoice and be source of blessing regardless of any circumstance.

Have mercy Lord and free me from the rule of other gods.

Note: I tried writing a variation this again as a meditation over at Floydville.

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