May 23, 2010

Examining The Scripture XI: Lawn Ornaments

God said to Jacob, “Arise, go up to Bethel and dwell there. Make an altar there to the God who appeared to you when you fled from your brother Esau.” So Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him, “Put away the foreign gods that are among you and purify yourselves and change your garments. Then let us arise and go up to Bethel, so that I may make there an altar to the God who answers me in the day of my distress and has been with me wherever I have gone.” So they gave to Jacob all the foreign gods that they had, and the rings that were in their ears. Jacob hid them under the terebinth tree that was near Shechem. ~Genesis 35:1-4

God command Jacob to go to Bethel build and alter and to live there and he obeyed. He was given a directive/mandate from God and he did what he was told in short order. With this Jacob starts to help mediate between God and the people of his family/clan in a spiritual manner. He takes on the roll of spiritual leader of his household and the spinelessness and conniving of his youth begins to dissipate. He tells his family to put away their foreign gods (idols) and they obey. What we begin to see is a turn away from the things of the world and a turn towards God by both Jacob and the people in Jacobs family. As it turns out all the family needed was a firm leader, God, through Jacob.

Strangely, this is not much different today. Many people including professing Christians serve things of the world (sports, work, family) and then turn to God on Sundays in acts of worship and praise. We pursue things of the world and earthly pursuits until God intervenes with His call to us to join him. We have God very clearly stating in Exodus 20 that man shall have no other gods before Him. It is interesting to note that Jacob (like us) did not have faith to move out on his own, it isn't until God directly intervenes that he is prepared to go (McGee 142).

So where did they get them? The idols that is.

Jacob had married the daughters of Laban, Rachel and Leah (Zilpah) was her servant. Rachel stole Laban’s household gods in Genesis 31:19.

"He drove away all his livestock, all his property that he had gained, the livestock in his possession that he had acquired in Paddan-aram, to go to the land of Canaan to his father Isaac. Laban had gone to shear his sheep, and Rachel stole her father's household gods. And Jacob tricked Laban the Aramean, by not telling him that he intended to flee." ~Genesis 31:18-20

This tells me that there was worship of false gods in the portion of the family that fled Laban or someone that had left with the entourage that fled Laban. All things considered, the Israelites (Semitic Tribes) were monotheists worshiping a single God surrounded by cultures who were either die-hard polytheists(people that worshipped multiple gods), pantheists (worshipped things of the creation) or they were flat out paganism's. This becomes an issue with Moses at Sinai with the golden calf also.

This whole incident can also be a lesson in hidden sin. We all have it. It is just a matter of whether we admit its there. We either purposely hide it our we are just not aware of it or do not recognize it for what it is. God sees all sin the same, sin is sin. This is why we should pray that the Lord helps us with the stubborn sin our lives that we are willing to hide and lie about so we can keep it.

Sin also comes in all shapes and sizes just like idols. Unfortunately, the sin isn't always as obvious as and obnoxious as an idol. We should also pray that the Lord expose to us the ones we cannot see or do not know are there. As I have said before, it is the holes below the water line that we cannot see or the ones that are hidden from view that sink the boat.

As for idols...we don't need to make them in physical form and people generally don't cognizantly deify inanimate objects nowadays (except Reiki, etc). The question is do people do it without realizing it? Blantant idolatry is easy to spot, stealthy sin is not. I believe instead...our mind does a much more effective job of creating idols that we don't even realize are idols, we don't need the lawn ornaments anymore. It isn't even worth the effort to make them in material form, you know, the ones that look like they've been made from cement(like lawn ornaments). The problem is that most don't realize they adore and worship idols of the mind. Anything that exalts itself before God or comes before God in your life physically OR mentally may very well have become your idol. It is written that even lust, evil desires & covetousness are idolotry.

"Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry." Colossians 3:5

...and for those that are really lazy and can't even make their own false god our industrialized society will accomodate you by making them for you en masse. They are all equally worthless. You can't pray to the one's you create in your head, the ones you buy and you can't pray to lawn ornaments and expect an answer. If they do answer isn't God anyway. You better run.

Question: What is the difference between a Garden Gnome and Buddha Statue?
Answer: Nothing.

No, it wasn't a joke.

Mcgee, J. Vernon. "Genesis." Thru the Bible, Vol. 1: Genesis-Deuteronomy. Waco, TX: Thomas Nelson

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