My wife and I have been going through 2 Kings in our evening devotional. During this study, I have noticed, not for the first time, that the lifestyles and practices of the Israelites during this time are very similar to what I see going on in this country today. People have set up for themselves idols and are following after false gods every day. They have collected so many things in their lives and they have so much stuff and they refuse to part with any of it. The addiction to material items and the latest technology is astounding in our world today. If you purchase a new computer or tablet, by the time you have figured out how everything works, it is outdated. The need for the newest and latest in cell phones, tablets, computers and 3D TV has control of the lives of many people, and that includes Christians. These newest technological toys have become idols in the lives of many today. The situation we see when we look around this world today is a reflection of what we read in 2 Kings and in other parts of the Old Testament’s historical record of Israel and the ancient world of that time. I think a note from the Life Application Bible has summed it up better than I can:
“Our world is strikingly similar to the world described in 2 Kings. National and local governments do not seek God, and countries are tormented by war. Many people follow the false gods of technology, materialism, and war. True worship of God is rare on earth.”
Note on Verse 1:1 of 2 Kings, New Life Application Study Bible, NLT, p. 750, Tyndale Publishing
People today have set up for themselves many idols. These are the things they place first in their lives. Webster defines idol as follows, “An image of a god, used as an object or instrument of worship.” also, “any object of ardent or excessive devotion or admiration.” So, it is obvious that at one time or another we have all had an idol in our lives. As Christians, nothing in our lives should ever take the place and position of Jesus. When that happens, we have placed an idol in the place and position which Jesus should be occupying in our lives. God himself tells us this in Exodus 20:3,
“You shall have no other gods before Me.”
So, what are the idols that people allow into their lives? Well, other people seem to be a common idol in the lives of people. This type of idol is not new to the present time; this has happened since sin entered into the world in the Garden. When a boy meets a girl or a girl meets a boy, there is an attraction and, well, I think you get it. But, what about the people who enter into the lives of other people indirectly, by means of various types of media or in other ways. I would say there are many people in Hollywood who have become idols in the lives of those who admire them. People flock to the theater to view the opening of the next greatest, bestest (not really a word) wildest, craziest, most new in technology movie. Of course, there is a star or leading role in this movie and some people will “idolize” the person in that role. That is a very common example. Television really plays a major role in idol worship; daytime TV, for years, has captivated people with soap operas. There are and have been people who have been so attached to these programs that they would never be away from the TV when a particular show was on. The fact is, these programs became a type of idol in the lives of those who watched them. Oprah was really the best example of a daytime TV idol. Any book she promoted was an instant hit. People actually believe if she says it is a good book, then it is a good book; not that the books are not good, it was the idea that she says it is, so it must be. She is an idol in the lives of many people and they hang on her every word; right into the worship of false gods, but, I don’t want to get ahead of myself. It is the same with prime time TV and in the case of all these programs, there have been individuals who have become idols to some of those who watch. But, the biggest idol in this country, without a doubt, is money. I have seen people go to great extremes to get the almighty dollar; it is shameful what some people will do to get a few more bucks in their pockets. This includes Christians which I have seen volunteer to work a Sunday shift only because it would add to the bank account. This is classified as greed; I have always believed that God would provide for my needs and He always has. He honors those who pass on the opportunity to pad the bank account in order to worship Him. This is not a slam on the person who has to work Sundays, there are other days to worship; this is too point out how the dollar has become an idol to some Christians.
There are the everyday idols in the lives of people; at any public place, stop and look around. Take notice of how many people are either texting or talking on their cell phones. Many states have had to pass laws banning the use of cell phones while driving. Some have made it unlawful for just texting; some of the craziest and tragic accidents have happened as a result of cell phone use. You can’t pry these things away from some people, particularly the younger ones. I was riding in a car one time with a co-worker (not current employer) who was talking on his cell phone, operating a lap top computer and driving all at the same time! Technology has found its place in our society as an idol. There are far too many idols in the lives of people today to give God any consideration at all. They are totally consumed with their own lives and the toys they have accumulated. It is as Jesus told His disciples in Matt. 24,
“But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark,” Matt. 24:37-38
The people in Noah’s time were totally consumed with their lives and when Noah warned them of the coming flood, they laughed at him and thought he was crazy. They went on with the normal things of their daily lives just as people do today. How many times have you witnessed to someone who thought what you were telling them was total nonsense? Well, the words of Jesus have been fulfilled concerning this statement; stop and look around at people today. We can’t be like they are, we have to be able to put down our latest technological toy and try to talk to them about Jesus. Remember, anything that comes before God is an idol; it has taken the place and position of Jesus in our lives.
So, what about the Church? Do Christians and those inside the Church really have idols? There have been, on more than one occasion, pastors who have been set up on a pedestal. These pastors are sometimes considered flawless and the people see them as never being capable of doing wrong. This is extremely dangerous territory for a local church and those involved in these types of activities. I have been to pastors conferences and witnessed a certain popular pastor finish a teaching and be overwhelmed with other pastors seeking to have their picture taken with him or asking for an autograph. Seeking to speak with a great man of God, a man who has committed his whole life to God, a man with the wisdom of God, well, I can understand that, but to seek out his signature or a photo op, I don’t get that. We must be very careful not make make pastors and men of God celebrities. There is a term in the Church today which is an irritant to me and that term is, Celebrity Pastor. What is a celebrity pastor? Where in the Bible does it speak about a man seeking after God’s heart being a celebrity? I missed that when I last read the qualifications of an overseer in 1 Tim 3. We, in the Church today, must be very careful about placing these guys on a pedestal or making them an idol. God has used many men in His work and has built huge congregations around these men, but it was not for these men to be looked upon as idols or to be placed on a higher level than the lowest of the church. This type of activity and treatment of a pastor can only lead to disaster. There are those who have placed the church building at the forefront of things most important in the church. There is so much time and effort placed on the building being the biggest, nicest and most technologically fit building in town. There is nothing wrong with having a nice, clean facility which meets the needs of those in attendance, but some local churches have went a little too far. I know of local churches that have went broke, literally broke, empty bank account, in an attempt to have the shining star facility to be seen by all. It is not what God wants; it is not about the biggest, fanciest, most hi-tech place in town. It is about what happens inside those walls when a service is happening. Worship God inside the building, don’t worship the building. The world has enough idols outside the Church, we don’t need any inside.
Are there false gods inside the Church? Well, only if those in the Church are worshiping something other than the true God of the Bible. Some religious organizations have fallen into the worship of something other than the one true God and therefore I would not consider them as part of the Church. It is a known fact that there are movements that have distorted the truth of the Bible and who God really is and I would not consider them as part of the Church. The Mormons, for example, will use all the right sounding Christian terminology, but, when you force them to tell you about their true belief and who they say God is, it is obvious there are not followers of the one true God. They are pursuing a false god. They have placed Joesph Smith on the same level as God; that makes Joseph Smith a false god. The Jehovah’s Witness are similar in their terminology; they use terms which sound a lot like Christian terms and phrases. I received or I found a flyer stuck in my front door recently from The Jehovah”s Witness inviting me to a conference of some sort and it was all phrased and written to sound just like a Christian event. The words,”Watchtower Society” gave it away. So, there are plenty of cult type movements in our world demanding that they serve the one true God; Islam has Allah, the Buddhists have Buddha, the Hindus have about a million or so false gods with the cow being one and many others I won’t take the space to name. The bottom line on these false gods are they cannot do anything for those who follow after them. One of my favorite passages from Isaiah is in chapter 44,
He burns part of the tree to roast his meat
and to keep himself warm.
He says, “Ah, that fire feels good.”
17 Then he takes what’s left
and makes his god: a carved idol!
He falls down in front of it,
worshiping and praying to it.
“Rescue me!” he says.
“You are my god!”
18 Such stupidity and ignorance!
Their eyes are closed, and they cannot see.
Their minds are shut, and they cannot think.
19 The person who made the idol never stops to reflect,
“Why, it’s just a block of wood!
I burned half of it for heat
and used it to bake my bread and roast my meat.
How can the rest of it be a god?
Should I bow down to worship a piece of wood?”
20 The poor, deluded fool feeds on ashes.
He trusts something that can’t help him at all.
Yet he cannot bring himself to ask,
“Is this idol that I’m holding in my hand a lie?
Isaiah 44:16-20 NLT
Now, this can be considered an idol as well as a false god but I think you get the point. Nothing has changed, people still will follow after their false gods today. It doesn’t have to be with an organized cult; it can be anyone who has formed their own opinion of who God is. How many times have you ever heard anyone say they can’t believe that a god of love would send people to hell? They have decided that hell is not real because in their mind, God won’t send people there. They need to understand God’s mercy and the real plan of salvation. They need to understand the sin nature which we were all born with. They need to understand that Jesus willingly put Himself on the cross to die in our place so we wouldn’t have to endure hell. They need to understand that God sends nobody to hell, we send ourselves there by denying Him. This is a false god which they have conjured up for their own belief. New Agers believe that all roads lead to heaven. There are far too many of those paths to even begin to talk about but they have invented a god who meets their beliefs and their agenda and eliminates any need to commit their lives to Jesus, the one true God. . There are people all around this world who have made God to be what they want Him to be. It doesn’t work that way; God is who is and always has been for eternity past. Nobody can change who God is, they can only fabricate a false god which they can use to serve their purpose. There are far too many to discuss here without the proper references and documentation for proof. But, there is one final group I would like to mention. This is a movement which has gained a vast amount of ground in the past 20 years.The gay agenda has forced their idea of a false god on our society for years. There are Main Line denominations that have ordained gays into ministry. These people will tell the world that the Church is full of bigots and hatred. They are telling the world that God does not consider homosexuality a sin. The following excerpt proves this,
Christian Post, 7/2/12: Gay Bishop Commends LGBT Presbyterians for ‘Confusing’ the Church on Homosexuality[Excerpts]--The first openly gay bishop in The Episcopal Church recently praised pro-gay Presbyterians for creating “enormous confusion” and what he called “holy chaos” in their denomination over homosexuality.
“It was not that many years ago when our churches, yours and mine and most others, were absolutely certain what God thought of us…and because of your courageous work, there are a lot of confused people out there and that is a huge step forward,” Bishop Gene Robinson of New Hampshire said Saturday during an event sponsored by More Light Presbyterians–a pro-LGBT group. During his half-hour talk, Robinson, who was consecrated in 2003, cited several passages in Scripture to defend homosexuality.
”Let’s take the Bible back from those who have taken it hostage,” he told the LGBT crowd. “You know, those are our Scriptures too.”
It is a practice of these people to ignore key verse in the Bible which refer to homosexuality as a sin as it does concerning other sins,
Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, 10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. 1 Cor. 6:9-10 NKJV
The word for homosexual here is catamite which refers to the practice of pederasty which basically refers to sodomy with boys and, of course, the mention of the word sodomite defines itself. So, here we see another person fabricating for himself a false god. Gene Robinson refuses to believe that he is living a lifestyle of sin and that it is OK with God for him to continue in this lifestyle. Now, this is not a writing to beat up on the gay community, it is only to point out how they have fabricated a god that will meet their agenda. They want the whole world, outside of the Church, to believe that we Christians are a racist, bigoted group who hates the gay community and wants to deprive them of certain rights. Well, that is what the radicals within that community want the world to believe. Sin is sin and it doesn’t matter what its name is, drunkard, homosexual, murderer, adulterer, it is all sin and it cannot stand in the presence of God. Maybe a false god can accept it, but then again, a false god is incapable of doing anything for you. Remember the passage from Isaiah? The false god is lifeless and unable to do anything for you; don’t believe in the many false gods of this world. Of course, Satan is the motivator behind every idea of a false god and today he is the main instigator in this struggle to prove that God does not consider homosexuality a sin and they are all able to stand in the presence of God while practicing this lifestyle. Does God hate the gay community? Absolutely not. Does He hate the drunkard or the murderer? No. He loves all and desires that none parish (2 Pet. 3:9) But when we insist on raising up a false god to meet our agenda and to sooth our desire for a sense of false peace, then we set ourselves up for condemnation.
As was the case for the Nation of Israel during the period of 2 Kings, so it is with our world today. There is a desire in this society to feed their selfish, sinful appetites and ignore the warning of the Church that Jesus wants all to be saved from their sin and He waiting with arms wide open. For those who wait too long, it will be too late. Idols and false gods cannot provide salvation and cannot grant entry into the eternal kingdom of God, the one true God.