“You shall have no other gods before Me.” What? Wait! You mean there are any other gods? Well, yeah, there are lots of little “g” “gods,” but there’s only one capital “G” God. And His name is not Allah, (or Jehovah for that matter. Jehovah is a 14th century corruption of the name Yahweh. A scribe added a jot. Guess this is why the Bible warns against adding jots and tittles. Look what happens!) Yahweh means “I AM that I AM.” This is the name that Moses was told to give the people when they asked His name. Jesus made His own I AM statements on many occasions. It’s why He was so often accused of blasphemy. The people of His day knew exactly what He was claiming.
Still, anything we put in God’s rightful place becomes a little “g” god to us, an idol. We may shake our heads and wonder how in the world the Israelites could make themselves a golden calf such a short time after seeing God’s awesome power at the Red Sea. Yet, many Christians, who have the Holy Spirit to guide us every day of our lives don’t have time or energy to go to church for more than an hour or so, if that. They spend their Sundays at the altar of a football stadium, a golf course, a shopping mall, or whatever else determines their day. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Did anyone vow to quit watching football if anyone on your team knelt for the National Anthem? Have you kept that vow? If not, maybe football is your idol. On the other hand, the National Anthem and patriotism are not substitutes for godliness. These can be idols too, especially if they’re keeping us from reaching across the aisle to tell someone Jesus loves them and we love them too.
Anything can be an idol, even good things, even great things. I had to learn this lesson the hard way. For almost forty years, I had a great marriage (or at least I thought I did), but I had made my husband and marriage an idol. Idols have to fall. We must ask ourselves, what would be the hardest thing in the world for me to give up? Could I do it? If not, it’s probably an idol.
If we follow Jesus long enough and are truly seeking to follow Him, sooner or later the tests will come. “Do you love me more than these?” No, God doesn’t tempt anybody. But He does test us. He does it to see if we’re ready to step up to the next level of service. Just like when we were in school and each year we had final exams to show we were ready to go to the next grade, God does the same thing for us. It’s not that He doesn’t already know we’re ready. He wants us to know it too. Just as God asked Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, He will test us to see if we will give up the things we love most too. Sometimes He’ll take them from us like He did with Job, and sometimes, like He did with Isaac, He’ll give them back.
Fortunately, our God is a God of Redemption. He made a Way of escape from our idolatry. His Name is Jesus. 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sin, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sin, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” The Israelites had to make a bronze snake and hang it on a pole, and look to it in order to live. We live by looking to Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith.
God bless you.