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Idol

 

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Idol

 

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Idol

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Binding…

 
After these things God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” He said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains that I shall show you.” So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac; he cut the wood for the burnt offering, and set out and went to the place in the distance that God had shown him. On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place far away. Then Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey; the boy and I will go over there; we will worship, and then we will come back to you.” Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. So the two of them walked on together. Isaac said to his father Abraham, “Father!” And he said, “Here I am, my son.” He said, “The fire and the wood are here, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” Abraham said, “God himself will provide the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.” So the two of them walked on together. When they came to the place that God had shown him, Abraham built an altar there and laid the wood in order. He bound his son Isaac, and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. Then Abraham reached out his hand and took the knife to kill his son. But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven, and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” He said, “Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.” And Abraham looked up and saw a ram, caught in a thicket by its horns. Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called that place “The Lord will provide”; as it is said to this day, “On the mount of the Lord it shall be provided.” (Genesis 22:1-14 NRSV)

Wow. I remember talking a lot about this story in seminary. We all wanted to call it the sacrifice of Isaac. That is what we have heard it called in Sunday school. We learned it that way so that has to be the right answer…

But was Isaac sacrificed? If he wasn’t sacrificed how can it be the sacrifice of Isaac? Our professor in seminary said we should call it the binding of Isaac, because while Isaac was not sacrificed, Abraham had bound him and was ready to sacrifice him.

Can you imagine what must have been going through Abraham’s mind? He just told Isaac that God would provide a lamb for the offering, knowing what God had asked him to do. I can not imagine doing this to any of my children (even on their worst behavior days). The gift given by God, how can He possibly ask for me to give it back, and not only give it back but play a part in the demise?

Abraham shows a vast and profound faith that many of us do posses we just don’t want to lay claim to it. When we step out and do something because we know that it is what God has called us to do we are stepping out in faith. We may never be asked to do something like sacrificing our children, but He will ask us to sacrifice our lives. You see God knew that Isaac was Abraham’s most prized possession, and for that reason Abraham was asked to sacrifice him.

What is your most prized possession? Is it taking God’s place in your life? Can you sacrifice it so that God has His proper place in your life?

Bind your life to Him and God will always provide what you need.

 

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Who do you serve?

“As for you, O house of Israel, thus says the Lord God : Go serve every one of you his idols, now and hereafter, if you will not listen to me; but my holy name you shall no more profane with your gifts and your idols. “For on my holy mountain, the mountain height of Israel, declares the Lord God, there all the house of Israel, all of them, shall serve me in the land. There I will accept them, and there I will require your contributions and the choicest of your gifts, with all your sacred offerings. As a pleasing aroma I will accept you, when I bring you out from the peoples and gather you out of the countries where you have been scattered. And I will manifest my holiness among you in the sight of the nations. And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I bring you into the land of Israel, the country that I swore to give to your fathers. And there you shall remember your ways and all your deeds with which you have defiled yourselves, and you shall loathe yourselves for all the evils that you have committed. And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I deal with you for my name’s sake, not according to your evil ways, nor according to your corrupt deeds, O house of Israel, declares the Lord God.” (Ezekiel 20:39-44 ESV)

Serve me or serve your idols…

We all know that you can not serve 2 masters. Even if someone is a double agent, they take orders from one agency, but only so they other agency can get insider information. They only serve the one agency.

So who do you serve?

Here God says that if you are not going to serve Him then you can just go serve your idols. And in the end you will not be judges by your sinful and evil ways, but you will be judged by the sake of His name.

Our deeds will not save us or condemn us, our only hope is in Jesus and following after Him and doing what He is calling us to do. So lay your idols down and follow the one whose name can save you.

 

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What is your Idol?

And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’” And he said to him, “Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth.” And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.
And Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” And the disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how difficult it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” And they were exceedingly astonished, and said to him, “Then who can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.” Peter began to say to him, “See, we have left everything and followed you.” Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first.” (Mark 10:17-31 ESV)

Ever wondered about this passage? There is an awful lot here to chew on this week… Maybe the camel reference is to help us chew on what Jesus is telling us…

First there is a man who kneels before Jesus and calls Him good and asks what he must do to get into heaven. Now be honest, how many times have you wondered what that magic thing is we have to do to make it to heaven. I mean I know there is nothing I can do, but that is just our interpretation, right. There has to be a magic thing that allows us access to heaven. And that is what this man wanted to know. What must I do to get into heaven? And Jesus answers him by asking why do you call me good, only God is good. Wait a minute isn’t He God? But the rich man doesn’t know this, or does he? He thinks He is a good teacher, but does he know that Jesus is God? But I digress…

Jesus then asks if he knows the commandments. And then Jesus tells him the commandments, “‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’” Uhm, Jesus I don’t know if that is right or not. I mean do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not bear false witness and honor your father and mother are commandments, but I really don’t remember this do not defraud, are you just testing me… But the rich man does not get that, he has the audacity to say, “Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth.” Wow. How many of you can say you have not broken a commandment? If we go without Jesus’ expansion of them, I can say I have not broken some of them, but not all of them, and I’m just talking about the 10 commandments. I am human. So this man says I have kept them all since my youth. Then Jesus looks at him and loves him. Jesus looks deep into his eyes into the depths of his soul and sees what this man lacks. He has an idol and it is his wealth. So Jesus tells him to get rid of his idol. Which we have turned into money is bad and wealthy people will not get to heaven. If we take this section literally, then all of us have to sell everything we have and give it to the poor to follow Jesus. This man had a problem with his wealth controlling his life, what would Jesus see if He looked into your soul?

But the disciples don’t get it… Jesus explains that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a wealthy man to get into heaven. Now again with the money, but understand that in Jesus’ day that if you had a lot of money you were blessed by God. Those that had were blessed and were first in society… OK maybe not just in Jesus day, do people with wealth think they get to be first, and are to be looked after more than those who do not have. Now that is a stereo type and I know some wealthy people who are are very generous and help in so many ways… But if you are blessed then you should be in heaven, but Jesus is saying that those who think they are blessed because of their possessions do not get it and won’t get in. It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of needle also does not refer to the gate in the city walls which were called needle eyes, which would allow a camel to go through, but the rider had to get off and baggage had to be removed. These gates were named this long after it was recorded that Jesus said this.

Then Peter says, “See, we have left everything and followed you.” And Jesus responds, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first.” So if you have left something to follow Jesus you are going to have many more houses and brothers and sisters and children and mothers and land. Meaning you will have many more things to take care of. Mothers and children are those who needed families to take care of them. They were the least of these, and we will have more of them to take care of. But with all of these things, will come persecutions. We get persecuted with the possessions we get. We get more stuff and have to take care of, and we get persecuted in the process.

So are you ready to be persecuted as Jesus asks you to let go of your idol?

 

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What will happen because of your idol…

And this occurred because the people of Israel had sinned against the LORD their God, who had brought them up out of the land of Egypt from under the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and had feared other gods and walked in the customs of the nations whom the LORD drove out before the people of Israel, and in the customs that the kings of Israel had practiced. And the people of Israel did secretly against the LORD their God things that were not right. They built for themselves high places in all their towns, from watchtower to fortified city. They set up for themselves pillars and Asherim on every high hill and under every green tree, and there they made offerings on all the high places, as the nations did whom the LORD carried away before them. And they did wicked things, provoking the LORD to anger, and they served idols, of which the LORD had said to them, “You shall not do this.” Yet the LORD warned Israel and Judah by every prophet and every seer, saying, “Turn from your evil ways and keep my commandments and my statutes, in accordance with all the Law that I commanded your fathers, and that I sent to you by my servants the prophets.”
But they would not listen, but were stubborn, as their fathers had been, who did not believe in the LORD their God. They despised his statutes and his covenant that he made with their fathers and the warnings that he gave them. They went after false idols and became false, and they followed the nations that were around them, concerning whom the LORD had commanded them that they should not do like them. And they abandoned all the commandments of the LORD their God, and made for themselves metal images of two calves; and they made an Asherah and worshiped all the host of heaven and served Baal. And they burned their sons and their daughters as offerings and used divination and omens and sold themselves to do evil in the sight of the LORD, provoking him to anger. Therefore the LORD was very angry with Israel and removed them out of his sight. None was left but the tribe of Judah only. (2 Kings 17:7-18 ESV)

American Idol is all the rage, right? OK maybe i’m a few years behind, but that is the way it goes, always late on uptake and just now got a really nice pair of bell bottoms! (kidding…)

But we look for those we can idolize. Our kids look up to musicians, and sports stars, and really when you look at who they are modeling their lives after is there anything there to be modeled that is worthy of modeling?

You see in our reading for today, the Israelites are exiled because of their idolatry. Well that was them and I don’t have any idols…

Well I disagree. We all have idols. Some of us idolize our cars, or our houses, or our families. Yes it is possible for your family to be an idol that draws you from God. God has to be the first thing in your life. He demands your  attention. He is very jealous and wants us to love Him before all other things. “Turn from your evil ways and keep my commandments and my statutes, in accordance with all the Law that I commanded your fathers, and that I sent to you by my servants the prophets.” He has given us a way to love Him and shown us how to do this through the prophets.

So seek out your idol, and don’t get rid of it, just make sure that it is in it’s proper place. God is first, then all other things will fall into place. But make sure your life is based on the idol that should be your idol – God.

 

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