Idols: "They must not live in your land."
"They must not live in your land, or they will cause you to sin against me. If you serve their gods, you will be caught in the trap of idolatry." - Exodus 23:33
What does God say about idols?
Idols are listed as #3 on the list of things God said not to do known as the Ten Commandments found in Exodus 20. Here your bible may call it an image. Sometimes you will see statue when the bible talks about idols. An idol is anything that causes you to focus more on that thing than focus on God and worship and obey Him. The verse that sticks out the most to me when I look at idols in my study as of late is the verse in Exodus 23:33 that reads: "They must not live in your land, or they will cause you to sin against me. If you serve their gods, you will be caught in the trap of idolatry."
So what are we who proclaim to be Christ followers doing to make sure that idols do not 'live in our land?'
We are all sinners guilty of having worshipped something more than Jesus, and its one thing for those who are seeking and do not know God's ways but it's a whole other ballpark when we are His followers and we know and do nothing about it. This verse calls us to action. He clearly tells us in His Word He will not tolerate it and bad things happen to seemingly good people when we tolerate it. This is not because God is a bully with a magnifying glass. This is because our God is holy, high and supreme, with all authority, and He is a jealous God. He wants all of us, not just part of us, as I'm sure we would want the same when related to each other (though we are human and not God, the Alpha and Omega - beginning and the end).
If we let these idols, these persons, places, or things, take up residency in our hearts and minds more than God has space to move, we sin against God and what does the last of that verse say? It says we are "caught in the trap of idolatry." Caught. He sees us. He knows. The trap. Maybe your version reads snare. It's like we're walking along with Jesus and everything is going great. Then here comes this relationship that takes up more space and time than we have time for Jesus, or there's this area of our life we worship more than Him - things like pornography, gambling, or drugs. It could be other things like our job, or the last choice we made that consumes our thoughts, or even our work for Him. I know I have to be careful with that one. I really want to please God and I want to serve Him by serving these people in Africa, but if I'm not careful, I can place these people and that place and allow my thought life to be so consumed with that that there's no spot left for what else God may have for me in that moment.
I think it is so easy and we all can fall prey to it, but we need to combat these things within us if God has put a finger on it, and evict whatever it is out of our lives so that we in turn can help heal and restore others for the sake of our relationship with God and our land. Ask Jesus right now what He sees in you that needs eviction and take the next step in making it right. Ask Him if there is something you get to do to help others be accountable in their own walk with idols. You could be the only one He is asking right now to be on that mission with Him.
What will it take for this nation (all nations) to be a nation of God and only God?
Let's not test Him here. He has proven Himself over and over again through the faults of either ourselves or others around us that He means business. He means what He says. Let's write the eviction notice. Let us remember God in every situation. God is the only One worthy of a throne. Come near to Him and get really low before Him. He is mighty and willing to forgive and to save.
Father, You alone are worthy. Thanks for your warnings throughout Your Word and Your mercy and grace throughout history. Speak to us I pray. Speak to us and dare us, urge us, help us to listen. I think we want to be a listening people. Before You only we humbly bow. Will you forgive us for the places where we have allowed idols to take us residency? Will you heal our land and restore this nation? We beg You. In Your Son's name, a name so precious, most glorious and worthy of all praise, we ask these things, Amen.