The Cross still ‘kills’ idols.

It is amazing how up to date the Bible is.  Thousands of years ago, God warned the Israelites about idols.  Idols are destructive and lead to perversion and other dangers.  God told the Israelites, ‘You must not do as they do in Egypt, where you used to live, and you must not do as they do in Canaan, where I am bringing you.  Do not follow their practices.’ 1  Then there are 17 verses that give a list of illicit sexual practices.  

#  The issue was the idolatry of the Egyptians and Canaanites. 

  • When you combine God’s warning to the Israelites with Romans 1:21-31, the problem of idolatry surfaces.  When someone rejects God, the vacuum it causes in his/her life, is filled by an evil spirit or idol.  One of the results is the emphasis on and prevalence of sexual sins in our age.   
  • All types of sexual immorality has swept over the western world.  People think it is fun, liberating, and one is entitled to go ‘wild.’  Yet they not realise that behind it are idols.  They are designed by the enemy of God to steal, rob, murder and destroy.  They may manifest later to wreck your marriage, your productive life made possible by the talents God gave you, or whatever.

#  The Israelites did not believe God.

They did not see the reason to avoid the source of the idolatry – the people who served idols.  They eventually paid a heavy price for their adoption of idols.  

We are more fortunate.  We not only have the lessons of history, but we have the  Saviour Jesus Christ.  God gave Him to us in His grace and mercy.  If you earnestly seek His forgiveness, He will not turn you away.  Except, as we see with the case of Herod. 

#  Herod, an example of someone Jesus did not answer 

  • Scripture relates what happened when Jesus appeared before king Herod before His crucifixion, ‘When Herod saw Jesus, he was greatly pleased, because for a long time he had been wanting to see Him.’  2  
  • Why did Herod not ask his officials to take him to Jesus so that he might get better acquainted with Him?  Herod didn’t want what Jesus came for – to save the lost.  He wanted a show, ‘From what he heard about Him, he hoped to see Him perform some miracle.’ 3   So, ‘He [Herod] plied Him with many questions, but Jesus gave Him no answer.’4   

#  There is hope in Jesus for those wrecked by idols.

For those who earnestly seek God, Jesus’ wonderful words are true, ‘It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.  I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.’ 5   

Conclusion

  • Idols are everywhere.  They are poised to catch the unwary in their traps. 
  • Today, we don’t have to ‘kill the idolaters’ so that they don’t influence us.  Jesus ‘killed’ the power of the devil and his demons on the cross. 
  • We, as followers of Jesus, can present the good news of the power of the blood of Jesus to save those entrapped by the idols of the devil.   

References

  1. Leviticus 18:3  
  2. Luke 23:8  
  3. Luke 23:8  
  4. Luke 23:9  
  5. Mark 2:17

Balaam and the talking donkey

As you probably know, the Bible is not like a textbook. The information is scattered. An illustration is BalaamBalaam (of Balaam and the talking donkey fame).

The basic story is in the book of Numbers. There are some puzzling statements in it:

  • God told Balaam not to go with Balak’s people to curse the Israelites and he did not go (22:12).
  • Then he was entreated again to curse the Israelites, with the promise of great reward. Balaam wavered and replied that he will find out what else the Lord will tell him (22:19). God told him to go with them (22:20).
  • Balaam went, but God was very angry (22:22).
  • God talked to Balaam through the donkey he was riding on. God told him he was on a reckless path (22:32). Balaam was willing to turn back, but God said he he must go, but speak only what God tells him (22:34,35).

If we read only Numbers 22, it is confusing and difficult to understand. However, references to Balaam from the other Bible books help to piece the whole episode together:

  • There is a clue in 2 Peter 2:15, They [false teachers] have left the straight way and wandered off to follow the way of Balaam, son of Beor, who loved the wages of wickedness. Balaam’s eyes glittered at the riches Balak promised him (Numbers 22:7,17). That is why he said he will find out ‘what else’ the Lord will tell him. He hoped there was a way around his dilemma to please God and earn good money. Jude 11 has the same theme, …they [godless men] have rushed for profit into Balaam’s error… Balaam was out to make a quick buck, but God was in the way.
  • Balaam did deliver God’s message, but he gave ‘extra’ advice to Balak: the way to handle the threat of the Isrealites, was to get Israelite men to indulge in immorality with Moabite women. Then God’s wrath will come on the Israelites. In Revelation 2:14 we read, You have people who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to entice the Israelites to sin by eating food sacrificed to idols and by committing sexual immorality.
  • Balaam’s advice was effective, since we read in Numbers 25 what happened. The Moabite women seduced the Israelite men. In the subsequent plague as a result of their sin, 24,000 Israelites died by the hand of God.
  • Why was God angry at Balaam? He wanted to protect Balaam from doing something that would cause his own ruin. Balaam’s advice cost the Israelites 24,000 people and he lost his life eventually. In Numbers 31:8 we read, They also killed Balaam son of Beor with the sword.

To summarise
We only understand the narrative fully when we read all the relevant passages in the different books (a good concordance is a great help). This is the pattern in the Bible. The ‘information is scattered.’ It was designed that way by the Holy Spirit so that we will not only read a verse or two, but study and meditate on the Word. Then we will come to understand our Lord God Almighty and His Son, who opened the way for the Holy Spirit to sanctify God’s people and prepare us for eternal life.

Compare The myth of the talking snake.

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