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Posts Tagged ‘idolatry’

forgiveness-and-reconciliation

In Exodus 34:10-28. God and his people are reconciled.  Peace has been made after their sin.  God has not only forgiven them, but poured his love, mercy, and affections upon them saying, “…Behold, I am making a covenant.  Before all your people I will do marvels, such as have not been created in all the earth or in any nation.  And all the people among whom you are shall see the work of the Lord, for it is an awesome thing that I will do with you.” ~Exodus 34:10

Not only is God making a covenant with these newly restored people, he is sacrificing other groups for their advancement.  He has again made them the very apples of his eye.

We know this because God promises to drive out all of those living in the land they are about to inhabit.  He specifically instructs them to tear down their false gods and refrain from making friends of those who worship other gods.  He reminds them – doubtless due to their most recent failures – “for you shall worship no other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God,” and “You shall not make for yourself any gods of cast metal.” ~Exodus 34:14,17  Matthew Henry says, “Those cannot worship God aright who do not worship him alone…That they might not be tempted to worship other gods, they must not join in affinity or friendship with those that did….such is the corruption of nature that the bad are much more likely to debauch the good than the good to reform the bad.” 

God very specifically tells his people not to intermarry with idolaters.  The reason is that their covenant is with Him and not to be exchanged for alliances with them.  Let us remember these words anytime we are among unbelievers.

Next, God commands His people to keep feasts of remembrance, make sacrifices to him, honor the Sabbath, and come before him regularly three times per year. The reason for these feasts was to remind the people of God’s provision, to remind them to give their best to God, and to remind them to rest, obey, honor and remember Him as their only true God.

In verses 21-24, we find God all but saying, “Remember me.  Remember me.  Remember me.”  In verse 25 – Remember my provision (the manna in the desert), remember my salvation (the Passover), and in verse 26 – remember not to worship idols (The boiling of a calf in its mother’s milk was a pagan ritual and superstition.) Remember me; remember me; no idols.  Remember me; remember me; remember me.  Remember me; remember me; no idols.

Finally, he tells Moses to write it down for them.  Moses fasted forty days and forty nights and rewrote the Ten Commandments on the tablets.  How utterly amazing.  Our God is a God of reconciliation.  He is a jealous God and will stop at nothing to eradicate idols and idolatry from our lives.  He makes his people remember him that we might not sin against him.  Amen.

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accountability.jpg

Moses and God have been hanging out on top of Mt. Sinai for quite some time.  Now that God is finished giving Moses instructions, he has just informed him of the corruption going on among his people at the bottom of the mountain.  His brother, Aaron, has just fashioned an idol and all the people are worshiping it.  God wanted to destroy them all and raise Moses up, but Moses interceded for them and God relented.  That brings us to Exodus 32:15-35.

Now, Moses is finally headed back down the mountain to speak to the people with the God-written tablets of the law in hand.  Notice that before Moses ever speaks to the people about their sin, he speaks to God about it.  We must not think we can deal with our brothers and sisters appropriately if we do not first talk to God about them first.

If you remember, Joshua was up on the mountain waiting for Moses all this time.  Here is our example.  Joshua had been waiting just as long as the people – and he was alone! – yet he had not sinned.  He also had not heard what God spoke to Moses, however.  He must have been camped some distance off from where Moses met with God and he did not know of the corruption and idolatry of the people as Moses did.  When Joshua heard the noise of the people he thought it was the sound of war.  Moses corrected him saying that it was not victory, it wasn’t defeat, but singing.  The reason there was no victory or defeat is because there was no war.  If we are following God, we must be always at war with sin.  These people were not.

They were singing.  Sitting, eating, drinking, playing, and singing.  Isn’t that just like us.  Singing and playing when we should be fighting, mourning, and repenting of our sin.  How many so-called Christians today go on entertaining themselves with all the world has to offer while sin sits on their doorstep soaking up their insobriety.

When Moses approached the camp and saw the sin of the people he got so mad that he threw the tablets and broke them.  He burned the golden calf idol down into power, threw it in the water, and made the people drink it.

This was like the saying, “You made your bed, now you have to sleep in it.”  You made the idol, now you have to eat it.  You bear the responsibility, kids.  Here comes judgement.

Notice that Moses’ angry display was a display of righteous anger – just like Jesus’ turning over the money changers’ tables.  Matthew Henry says, “It is no breach of the law of meekness to show our displeasure at the wickedness of the wicked.”   

In other words, it is not wrong to be mad at sin against God.  It is not wrong to make our displeasure known when men deliberately dishonor God and his law.  It is no sin to be angry over sin, especially when men in danger of hell for their continuing disobedience go about singing and playing as if all is well.

Moses’ first stop after crashing this sin party is his brother’s face.

“And Moses said to Aaron, ‘What did this people do to you that you have brought such a great sin upon them?’ “ ~Exodus 32:21

Who brought the sin upon the people?  Aaron.  But, wait.  Didn’t the people come to him complaining about God and Moses?

They did.  But Aaron is the leader.  Therefore, Aaron bears much more responsibility than the people do.  Aaron should have corrected them.  Aaron should have interceded and waited on God.  Instead, without batting an eye, Aaron said, “Bring me your gold,” and made the idol with his own two hands.

Now, when his brother comes to him face to face with accountability for it, Aaron blame-shifts and flat out lies about his own sin.  Listen to what he says to Moses:

“…So I said to them, ‘Let any who have gold take it off.’ So they gave it to me, and I threw it into the fire, and out came this calf.” ~Exodus 32:24

I put the gold in the fire and a calf just popped right out.  Yeah, right, Aaron!  Liar.  No one believes you.

Isn’t it amazing what men will say and do to weasel out of accountability and responsibility when we are caught in sin?

Instead of arguing with Aaron, Moses does something else.  He stands in the gate of their camp and he asks who is on the Lord’s side.  Those who come to him he instructs to kill everyone else – including their brothers, friends, and neighbors.

You guys think you got what it takes?  You want to work for God?  Go kill your brothers.  Go kill your buddies.  Prove you’re fit for service in my kingdom.  And by the way, I will bless you for it.

“And Moses said, ‘Today you have been ordained for the service of the Lord, each one at the cost of his son and of his brother, so that he might bestow a blessing upon you this day.’ “ ~Exodus 32:29

Little wonder why Jesus said that anyone who loves his mother and father and brother and sister more than him is not worthy of him.  When our favorite people in the world sin, they do not get a pass.  We cannot overlook what angers God for the sake of keeping peace with our friends and family.  Christ did not come to bring peace, but a sword.  If we are not willing to confront those we love most when sin is present, we are not fit for service in God’s kingdom.  And, as difficult and painful as being the dreaded confront-er is, God promises to bless us when we are faithful to live out his Word.

As we see in this passage, the men who stood up on God’s side are the ones who had to carry out God’s judgement on their unrepentant brothers.  How much suffering do you think was involved in that duty?  Surely it was a great amount.  Clearly, this was a punishment for these better men as well, for not putting a stop to the sin much sooner.

For everyone who was left afterward, Moses says this, “You have sinned a great sin,  And now I will go up to the Lord; perhaps I can make atonement for your sin.” ~Exodus 32:30

He goes back to God to intercede for the people again.  He tells God what God originally told him – that the people had made gods out of gold.  It wasn’t that God didn’t know this already.  He’s the one who told Moses first.  Moses tells him in a manner of confession.  Sins must be specifically identified and rightly confessed to God for forgiveness to be possible.  He asks God to forgive them or else blot him out of the book of life.

What a leader.  Here is an innocent man willing to be punished and even blotted out of God’s favor altogether for the sake of those who actually deserve that kind of punishment.  Remind you of anyone?  Moses was a type of Christ.

But God says no.  He says he will blot out those who have sinned against him.  God promises to send his angel before Moses and lead him to the promised land.  He sends a plague on the people for their idolatry and disobedience and Moses moves on with far less people than he started with.

Sin weakens and destroys the people of God.  No matter what the cost to confront it, never let sin reside in the camp of God’s people.  Despite the great personal pain and difficulty confronting your brothers, buddies, and neighbors brings, make no mistake, you will be blessed if you are faithful to God’s Word by confronting sin in the midst of blatant disobedience.  Amen.

 

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calf

Picture this: You were born a slave.  You had been told that a deliverer was coming.  Hundreds of years had gone by with no deliverance.  But, in your lifetime, he comes.  He does the signs and wonders of God and rescues you out of bondage and slavery.  He leads you, by the hand of your God’s leading, into the desert wilderness where further instructions are being given.  You’ve already been given many miraculous signs, bread from heaven, water from a rock, a leading cloud and a leading fire to guide you each and every day, and you are awaiting the man who delivered you from slavery.  He’s up on a mountain speaking with God.  You can see the huge cloud that he has been drawn into.  Before he went up, you saw thunder, lightning, and audibly heard the voice of God from heaven.  This is where the Israelites are when Exodus chapter 32 happens.  Take some time and consider their history before reading this chapter.

In Exodus 32, these people of God gather themselves together because they are getting impatient.  They still see the cloud.  They know Moses has left his brother, Aaron, in charge and told them to wait for further instructions.  But they are tired of waiting.  Too many days have passed and they’re restless.  So they get together and go to Aaron and demand that he make them some new gods to lead them.

When the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, the people gathered themselves together to Aaron and said to him, “Up, make us gods who shall go before us. As for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.” ~Exodus 32:1

They’re like, “Hey boss.  Make some new gods.  The one we got isn’t doing what we want.”

How familiar is that?  Hey, God.  Be a different god.  Be a god that does whatever I want.

There are a lot of “Christians” who treat their religion just like these people did.  It’s not God they want to serve, it’s themselves.  So they twist him and the scriptures into whatever it is they prefer.  Worse still, there are leaders who comply and compromise to their every demand in order to “keep peace” or stay comfortable. Unfortunately, this is what Moses’s brother Aaron did.

Aaron, their surrogate leader in Moses’s absence, did not even blink before acquiescing to their demand.  They say, “Do this!” Aaron says, “No problem.”

Aaron instructs the people who are demanding new gods to remove their gold jewelry and bring it to him.  Where did they get all this gold, though?  Weren’t they slaves?  Oh, that’s right, God had their oppressors give them all the gold in Egypt when he delivered them.  Now, they’re giving it away to make new gods in his place.  How many blessings do we forfeit out of our unfaithful demands and sinful actions?

So Aaron “fashions” a golden calf with a special tool.  He later lies (Exodus 32:24) and says the calf just somehow appeared out of the fire when they put the gold in.  But consider first what the people said after Aaron makes the calf:

And they said, “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!” When Aaron saw this, he built an altar before it. And Aaron made a proclamation and said, “Tomorrow shall be a feast to the Lord.” ~Exodus 32:5

What?!  These are your gods?!  No, this was melted down gold chiseled out by a man to look like a cow.  This inanimate object never did anything, yet they credit it with leading them out of Egypt – the very thing their REAL God did.  All the while, their surrogate leader is pretending it was for the Lord – in his honor!  What?!

This is complete insanity.  Let me say that again.  THIS IS COMPLETE INSANITY.  This is complete insanity especially considering that God was up there at this very same time with Moses calling Aaron to the very highest honor among his people – the high priest.  It really makes you wonder why on earth God chose Aaron at all.  As God is choosing Aaron to be the very first high priest, Aaron is obeying evil commands from his subordinates, building an idol for them with his own hands, worshiping the idol with them, and pretending the whole charade is in honor of the Lord.  Then, he’s eating, drinking – partying! – and “playing” as if it’s a wonderful, celebratory time.  And, if we look ahead just a few verses, we find him lying about the whole thing.

This is a man who has just forsaken the true God for idols, forsaken his brother, forsaken his charge over the people of God, forsaken the spiritual welfare of the people God had given him responsibility over – his own people to boot – and all for what?

Perhaps he saw how they’d grumbled against Moses when he didn’t go along with their demands.  Maybe he wanted to be popular and well-liked.  Maybe he was afraid of the people.  Whatever his reasons, this man whom God is rising up for even greater honor in leadership is a man of complete compromise at this point in his life.

And maybe God would have it that way to show Aaron the depth of his own sin prior to exalting him to the position of high priest so that he might be sufficiently humbled as preparation beforehand.  I don’t know for sure but what I do know is that God’s ways are not our ways.  I wouldn’t have picked this guy to be the trash collector in the temple, let alone the high priest.  He cowardly gave in to his subordinates’ idolatrous demands.  He participated in their sin to the point of enabling and providing for it.  He pretended to be using the sin he was committing as worship to the Lord.  He celebrated when he should have been mourning.  He forsook God, his own brother, and his people.  He was greatly unfaithful to the position he had already been given by God.  He lied to protect himself from accountability and responsibility when he was caught in the act.  This is not a man I would trust!!! Or choose!  Or submit to as my leader!  No stinking way!!!

But God chose him.  Moses forgave and interceded for him despite his righteous anger over his brother’s sin and failure.  And God had mercy.  He allowed Aaron and his sons to repent and still made them priests.

In my flesh and in my disgust over Aaron’s unfaithfulness I want the moral of the story to be, “Don’t trust crappy leaders,” or “Tie cowards and compromisers up by their underpants and place them in the public square for a few days.”  But that’s not the lesson for me in this passage.  The moral of this story is, “God had mercy.”  God has mercy.  And it’s not just for me and those who haven’t hurt me or other people when we fail.  It’s for everyone who repents – even cowardly, compromising, idolatrous, unfaithful, betraying, deceitful leaders over God’s people.

This is a hard lesson for me because so many of exactly those kind of men have deeply hurt me personally.  But God has mercy.  I forgive them.  Let us love like God when men fail us in every way imaginable.  Amen.

 

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 For I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ.Nevertheless, with most of them God was not pleased, for they were overthrown in the wilderness. ~1 Corinthians 10:1-5

Paul is writing to the Corinthian Church and he is telling them that spiritual blessings, advantages, and even membership with God’s people do not automatically equal God’s favor.  He points them back to their ancestors in the wilderness and proves that though they had every spiritual blessing and advantage, they did not please God.

They had a cloud and fire straight from God to follow.  They had miraculous provisions of food and drink.  We and the Corinthians have the sacraments, fellowship, membership, and provisions as well.  None of these things make us “good” with God.  None of these things make us right with God in and of themselves.  So if these things do not, what does?

The blood of Christ and obedience to him and his Word.  That is all that makes us right with God.  So, here is our warning:

Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did. ~1 Corinthians 10:6

These people were to serve as an example for us – so we might not stumble and fall as they did in the wilderness.  What evil is Paul speaking of?  What evil were they doing?  Because we know they were doing right things – things God honors and gives to his own people such as worship, community, baptism, spiritual things, and religious practices.  What evil were they doing in addition to the good things?  He goes on in verses 7-10 to elaborate for us.

Paul gives three main examples in verses 7-10: Idolatry, sexual immorality, and discontent and complaining.  They were worshiping false gods in addition to worshiping the One True God.  The false gods they were worshiping were self, sex, food, drink, pleasure, etc.

They were impure in sexuality – in thinking about, entertaining, and doing immoral things in regards to sexual practices.  They were not content with what God was providing – namely their own spouses, marriages and what God provided for their sexuality.  They were seeking other avenues and sexual outlets.  They were worshiping these other outlets and making them into gods by their lust and desire for them, their willingness to sacrifice to and for them, and their submission to them while failing to submit to the commands of Christ.

Furthermore, they were discontent with the food and drink provided and they were eating the food sacrificed to idols and likely participating in the idol worship itself.  They complained and grumbled generally never being satisfied with what God had provided for them so mercifully.  Just like in the desert with the manna.

In all these things – this sin they were doing right alongside their religious business – they were accused by Paul of testing Christ.  That’s why Paul takes the time to remind them of what happened to their ancestors when they did these same things testing God’s patience and grace.

He’s like hey guys…remember the snakes?  They came because the people were dissatisfied with all the great blessings God had given to them.  They were spoiled brats.  So God gave them some snakes to contend with.  He gave them something to complain about.  (Numbers 21)  They were destroyed by Satan because of their grumbling.

Why does Paul bring all this up?  He tells us in verse 11:

 Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come. ~1 Corinthians 10:11

These things happened for you, New Testament Church!  For you to learn from!  So you wouldn’t fall into the same temptations as those before you and be destroyed like they were!  Therefore…

THEREFORE!  Since this is for you and your instruction…

12 Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. 13 No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. ~1 Corinthians 10:12-13

In other words, don’t think you’re safe.  Don’t think you cannot be tempted to the point of falling into sin and being destroyed, too.  Be on guard!  Don’t just do whatever the world is doing.  Be careful!  Your God is faithful and you will be tempted but, if you are listening for him and trusting in his provision, he will show you how to resist, how to escape,  how to obey,  and how to not fall into things that will destroy you.

THEREFORE…because these things are true…

Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. ~ 1 Corinthians 10:14

RUN!!! Run away from idolatry!  Run away from idolaters!  You are member of Christ!  Do not participate with demons!  You cannot do both!  You will not win!  You are no match for Satan no matter how strong you think you are in the faith.  Satan is stronger than you are.  God is stronger than you are.  Stop provoking and testing him!  He does not take lightly to idolatry.  He does not wink and smile at demonic idolatry, sexual immorality, and constant complaining.

Therefore…obey him.  Participate only in that which is good and you will be in his favor.  Be careful.  Be on guard.  Imitate Christ.  What a calling!  What a high calling to strive toward.  Walk as Jesus did.  Don’t be lax in your spiritual walk.  Work out your salvation with all you’ve got because that’s what it’s going to take to be pure, faithful, and victorious as a Christian.  Amen.

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us

Twenty years.  That’s how long Mr. Rodeheaver and I have loved each other.  Today is our 17 year wedding anniversary and I could not be more in love.

There were many years where I could not have imagined our marriage being what it is today.  I can say with all honesty and without exaggeration that it is better now than ever before.  This is the result of a faithful God and a faithful husband.

I spent the past week cleaning the house.  School is out – homeschool, that is, where mom is always home but never able to get anything done – and cheer season is over.  Finally, I had time to do all those jobs I never get around to.  Cleaning out drawers, closets and bookshelves, scrubbing floors, baseboards, and walls, and, my personal favorite, throwing away everything that isn’t nailed down.

House cleaning is not my favorite job.  There are only two reasons I clean: 1. I can no longer function due to the chaos happening around me 2. My husband told me to.  If it was not for Mr. Rodeheaver’s consistent reminders about doing “my job” I honestly might be featured on the next episode of “Hoarders.”

It is because of my husband’s unwillingness to overlook or ignore sin in my life that I have grown in the areas that are most difficult for me to find success in.  Because he neither fears telling me the truth nor accepts any nonsensical excuses I make that keep me from being better, I have no choice but to grow.  He understands my potential and he accepts nothing less than my best.

Twenty years is a long time to be learning something.  Most would have given up instructing and encouraging me a long time ago.  Love never fails, though.  Tim’s faithfulness to me extends far beyond dinners out and depositing paychecks.  Tim’s faithfulness to me is often found in his consistent correction in the things I figure out how to continuously fail at.  Housecleaning is just one example.  We can also add cooking, planning, spending, and eating, just to name a few.

If I am honest I would have to say I fail a lot in almost every area of my life in some way.  We all do.  Fortunately life is not a competition against anyone besides ourselves.  If I am better today than I was yesterday, that is progress.  It is a reason to celebrate.  It does not mean I won’t regress and fail again tomorrow.  It means I have victory today and I have a faithful voice to correct me again tomorrow, if need be.  I can think of no greater blessing.  Faithful love instructs, encourages, corrects, and forgives.

If any one of those elements is missing, I would be hard-pressed to call it faithful love with any amount of confidence.  Things I would call it may be idolatry, selfishness, fear, or resentment.  These are what love is not.

Idolatry.  Idolatry worships.  When we make someone an idol, we only encourage and forgive.  Idolatry lacks the ability to instruct and correct appropriately.

Selfishness.  Selfish relationships only do what is best for self – not the other.  They may instruct, encourage, correct, or forgive, but all things are done only in one’s own interests depending on which manipulative action will give them – not the other – the most satisfaction.

Fear.  Fear is not found in true love.  The Bible says,  There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.” One who fears in a relationship will never correct or instruct appropriately.  They may not encourage or forgive, either, depending on what kind of fear they are entertaining.

Resentment.  Resentment is when a person only corrects and instructs but never encourages or forgives.  Resentment is not a characteristic of true love.

Faithful love instructs, encourages, corrects, and forgives.  Love is not idolatry, selfishness, fear, or resentment.  If I am honest, I would have to say that over the course of our marriage, I have fallen prey to all of these things which are not love at one time or another.  Thankfully, true love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things.  Thankfully, I have a husband who sent this message to me first thing this morning:

text

Love covers a multitude of sins.  We fail but love never does.  Keep loving no matter what else happens.  I will leave you with a few verses from the song we chose as ours in May, 1997 and has been true of our lives:

Better than I was
More than I am
And all of this happened
By taking your hand
And who I am now
Is who I wanted to be
And now that we’re together
I’m stronger than ever, I’m happy and free

Oh, it’s a beautiful thing
Don’t think I can keep it all in
And if you ask me why I’ve changed
All I gotta do is say your sweet name

It’s your love
It just does something to me
It sends a shock right through me
I can’t get enough
And if you wonder
About the spell I’m under
Oh it’s your love

~Tim McGraw and Faith Hill, It’s Your Love, May, 1997

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half

In 2 Chronicles 25, we find a young man who has been appointed to leadership.  Amaziah was 25 years old when his father was killed and he became king of Judah.  This is how the text describes him:

And he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, yet not with a whole heart. ~2 Chronicles 25:2

Do you know anyone like this?  These ones are half-hearted, half-committed living in halfway halftime all the time.  It’s no way to be in any area of life, but when it comes to spiritual matters, halfway halftime will never cut it.  Let’s learn from one who did it wrong.

Apparently Amaziah wasn’t all in when it came to his dealing and disposition toward God.  It sounds like he just got by with a few good deeds here and there and perhaps a friendly front in regards to his maker.  Matthew Henry says, “The general character of Amaziah: He did that which was right in the eyes of the Lord, worshiped the true God, kept the temple service a going, and countenanced religion in his kingdom; but he did not do it with a perfect heart, that is, he was not a man of serious piety or devotion himself, nor had he any zeal for the exercises of religion.  He was not enemy to it, but a cool and indifferent friend.”

This chapter tells us of a couple things Amaziah did and it reveals his not so whole heart in the process.  The first thing we are told is that Amaziah obeyed the law of Moses by sparing the children of those who assassinated his father.  Next, we learn that he calls the army of Israel to help him in battle, but reneges at the counsel of a prophet.  He actually pays these guys to come fight with his army and then, because the prophet warns him to trust in God instead, he sends them home.

One has to wonder why he called these guys in the first place.

Amaziah was going out to fight the Edomites.  This was a people known for their idolatry.  They were the descendants of Esau – Jacob’s twin who sold his birthright for a bowl of soup.  Anyway, just 50 or 60 years prior to this conquest, Judah’s army had been 3 or 4 times more numerous.  Sin had so enveloped these people that their army’s number was one fourth what it had just previously been.  “Sin weakens a people, diminishes them, dispirits them, and lessens their number and figure.”  Matthew Henry

Amaziah would not have even gotten himself into this issue of paying Israel’s soldiers, sending them away, losing his money, and having to deal with their rioting and mischief-making afterward if he had just first considered the lack of help any of his ancestors had in using them as allies previously.  Some just don’t learn from past mistakes I guess.

Calling in men in addition to his own was distrust of God.  Matthew Henry says, “If he had made sure of God’s presence, the army he had of his own was sufficient.”  Not only that, but particularly these men he was not to call.  They were not trustworthy and therefore no good and godly favor could ever be expected by their employment.

So he listens to the prophets and the extra troops go home before the battle.  When Amaziah got back from the battle – which he won without Israel, by the way – the very first thing he does is worship…the idols of the Edomites.  What??!

Yep.  God gave him victory and he just couldn’t wait to get home and set up the idols of the men he just conquered and worship them…because…those false gods saved the Edomites so well…right.

This is completely ridiculous!!!  But this is the kind of thing humans do.  God, in his mercy, sends Amaziah yet another prophet.  Here’s how it goes:

 Therefore the Lord was angry with Amaziah and sent to him a prophet, who said to him, “Why have you sought the gods of a people who did not deliver their own people from your hand?” 16 But as he was speaking, the king said to him, “Have we made you a royal counselor? Stop! Why should you be struck down?” So the prophet stopped, but said, “I know that God has determined to destroy you, because you have done this and have not listened to my counsel.” ~2 Chronicles 25:15-16

This time, Amaziah does not heed the prophet’s true words.  He tells him to stop talking.  He asks this prophet who he thinks he is.  He goes so far as to warn him that if he doesn’t shut up he will be killed.

“So the prophet stopped…”

That’s the saddest line in this entire account.  “Those that will not take advice from the word of God, which would guide them aright, will justly be left to the bad advice of those that will counsel them to their destruction.  Let those be made fools that will not be made wise.”  Matthew Henry

When the true prophet stops talking, it is time to fear.  It is time to start looking over your shoulder, Amaziah.  You are in a bad place.

The prophet does stop talking, stop instructing, stop leading Amaziah.  He gives one final warning and he lets God have at it with this hell-bent idolator.

Wait.  What?!  Isn’t this the guy who just obeyed another prophet at his own personal expense and embarrassment?  Isn’t this the guy who just won a great victory?  It is.  But a prophet asking him to forsake his money and his reputation did not strike at the heart of this half-hearted not so religious guy like the one asking him to forsake his idols did.  Herein we find his true god which was no god at all.

Some men can put on a good show of religion until someone comes along and strikes at the heart of their true god.

In the end, Amaziah was killed by the very men whom he had tried to employ and trust in in the place of God’s presence.  Truly though, it was his pride and his lack of willingness to listen to sound, godly counsel that ultimately destroyed him.

There was something terribly wrong with Amaziah’s heart.  It was not whole.  Such is the lot of many a broken man trying to lead.  If you don’t get that thing fixed, and quick, the fate and pride of Amaziah may find you out.  Go to the master mechanic – Jesus Christ.  He is the only one who can fix a not so whole heart.

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angelofdeath

Here it is.  In Exodus 12, we find the wages of sin.  Pharaoh had enslaved God’s people.  He had held them captive and oppressed them for a great period of time.  Their babies, save Moses, had been slaughtered, their lives had been greatly burdened, and their God had been mocked.

God, in his mercy, had not carried out swift judgement.  Instead, he send his prophets.  They dealt reasonably with Pharaoh.  God gave many warnings, signs, and wonders.  Pharaoh refused to listen.  Time after time, Pharaoh hardened his heart.

Finally, here in Exodus 12, God touches what is most dear to Pharaoh.  God smites his firstborn child.  Not only his, but all of Egypt’s firstborn children.

And Pharaoh rose up in the night, he and all his servants and all the Egyptians. And there was a great cry in Egypt, for there was not a house where someone was not dead. ~Exodus 12:30

There is not a person our sin does not affect.  When an influential person sins, the results are widespread and catastrophic.  Egypt was guilty of killing the Hebrews’ children.  Now, God’s perfect justice had taken theirs.

Like Pharaoh, when God has been dealing with us for a long time over a specific issue and we have not listened, he brings judgment to the place where we feel it most deeply.  Often, the judgement reveals not only our sin, but our idols.  It reveals our hardened refusal to deal with the very thing God wants to deal with.  For Pharaoh, his child was not just his child.  Pharaoh’s firstborn was Pharaoh’s future.  This was his heir; his successor; his life after death.  All of Pharaoh’s power would be gone once death came so his child was his immortality; his continuation; his very salvation.

Don’t touch my child, God.  My child is mine.  I will protect this part of myself and excuse my sin no matter how many times you try to deal with it.  Just don’t touch me there.  This part of my life if off limits, God.  Leave it alone.

We all have “children” in our lives.  These are our idols.  They are those things we try to make untouchable when God reaches for them.  Don’t touch my child, God.  Don’t touch my marriage.  Don’t touch my health.  Don’t touch my finances.  Don’t touch my family.  Don’t touch my job.  Don’t touch my recreation.  Don’t touch my relationships.  Don’t touch my ministry.  Don’t touch my plans.  Don’t touch my pain.  Don’t touch my happiness.  Don’t touch my fear.  Don’t touch me.  Just don’t touch me, God.  Leave me and my precious child the hell alone.

Pharaoh lost his child as a result of stubborn rebellion.  All those who followed him lost their children, too.  Matthew Henry notes that “…the Egyptians could have no help, no comfort, from their neighbors, all being involved in the same calamity.”

 Then he summoned Moses and Aaron by night and said, “Up, go out from among my people, both you and the people of Israel; and go, serve the Lord, as you have said. 32 Take your flocks and your herds, as you have said, and be gone, and bless me also!” ~Exodus 12:31-32

Judgement for one meant freedom for another.  God’s heavy hand upon this ruler humbled him to the place where he finally submitted to let God’s people go.  He even went so far as to ask them to bless him!  God’s people would no longer be enslaved and oppressed by the control and corruption of an unconcerned master.  God’s people were finally free.

This final judgement teaches us just how obstinate we humans are.  Look at what it takes to humble us!  Nothing short of death.  Consider the depths of our sin and the lengths God is willing to go to in order to set us free!  Where there is judgement, there is often hope; there is freedom; there is redemption if we just surrender – idols and all – and God passes over us in extraordinary mercy.

So, Lord, please.  I don’t want my child to die but I don’t want my child to be my idol either.  Touch my child and make me willing to submit her to you.  Touch my marriage.  Touch my health.  Touch my finances.  Touch my family.  Touch my job.  Touch my recreation.  Touch my relationships.  Touch my ministry.  Touch my plans.  Touch my pain.  Touch my happiness.  Touch my fear.  Touch me and make me willing to submit everything to your good and perfect will.  Whatever you do, do not leave me alone with my idols.  I am listening.  Help me surrender all to you.

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