Idolatry Makes a Difference
I have entitled this devotion, “Idolatry Makes a Difference,” because that is ultimately what I think this chapter is about. But first I have to begin where it begins because it anticipates, indeed, prophesies, what came to pass in the New Testament Church, spoken of by Paul in Acts 28 and Romans 10.
But before I speak of that, we must be honest, as the Church of Jesus Christ, about our own sin, and, bless God, much of the Church has, at least by now, done so. No, I won’t apologize for the text, but I will confess our sin – and the sin I speak of is “anti-Semitism.” Unfortunately, much of church history is filled with unspeakable crimes against the Jews, and that by twisting God’s holy word for justification (a terrible sin). However, Christ, “himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility” through the cross (Ephesians 2:14-16). Indeed, Paul calls the “mystery of Christ” “that the Gentiles are fellow heirs” and “partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus” with, of course, the Jews (3:6). Christians (most of which are not of Jewish descent) are not to hate anyone, but especially the Jews, who were before us in the faith, who regarding election “are beloved [by God] for the sake of their forefathers” (Romans 11:28). None of this is to deny what happened: The Jews rejected the gospel which the gentiles embraced, which was prophesied by Isaiah in 65:1-2, and cited by Paul in Romans 10:20-21. But that is all the more reason for us to pray daily for their conversion, for “how much more will their full inclusion mean!” (Romans 11:12).
And now I turn to the meat of the passage. The sin that is highlighted is idolatry: “sacrificing in gardens, and making offerings on bricks; who sit in tombs, and spend the night in secret places … who set a table for Fortune and fill cups of mixed wine for Destiny.” Idolatry is our primal sin – the putting of something else in place of God first in our hearts. It is so foolish when we consider that only God is truly authentic – the self-existing One. The rest of us are totally dependent on Him. God (of Scripture – the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ) is what is left when everything else is removed. Why do we settle for the counterfeit – like our enslaving obsessions and passions – when we could have God, who is all that really matters? Those who make Him their obsession will eat, drink, rejoice, sing for gladness of heart, and bless God in the new heaven and earth that is coming. Those who don’t, won’t, but will have all eternity to worship the passions of their flesh while gnashing with their teeth.