Question – “Of all the people in your life, who would you least desire to be angry with you?” All of us can think of people whose wrath we would prefer to avoid. At the same time, most of us would say that we definitely wouldn’t want God to be angry with us. Our text explains what ignites God’s anger.
The people of Israel (the northern nation) and Judah (the southern nation) had both disappointed the Lord. But the people of Israel were especially rebellious towards God’s desires and demands. We read in our text that among their chief sins were the worship of idols, unbelief, the rejection of God’s laws and commands, and their willingness to adopt the values and activities of the nations around them.
Second Question – “Do you ever struggle with being rebellious towards the Lord – and if you do, in what arenas of life?” All of us struggle with rebelliousness towards the Lord from time to time, and many of us struggle with rebelliousness on a regular basis. That rebelliousness can include unbelief, a rejection of God’s Word and commands, becoming like the world around us, or idolatry in our lives.
Throughout the Bible, we can see that the sin that most angers God is the sin of idolatry. When the Lord gave the Ten Commandments to Moses and His people, at the top of the list, in Exodus 20:2-3, was the following command: “Do not worship any other gods besides me. Do not make idols of any kind . . . You must never worship or bow down to them, for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God who will not share your affection with any other God! Throughout His Word the Lord tells that He wants to be the only “god” we have in our lives, and He tells us how serious He is about the sin of idolatry, and that idolatry separates His people from His presence, power and provision and brings punishment to their lives.
Third Question – “Do you have, or have you had any idols (or gods) in your life – and if you have, what are they or what were they?” You may be wondering, “What is a ‘god’ or idol?” A god is anyone or anything that dominates our lives, controls our lives, or comes before God in our lives. Can a career be a god? The answer is yes. Can sex or an all-out pursuit of pleasure through alcohol, drugs, gambling, pornography, success, etc. be gods in our lives? The answer again is yes. Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 3:4: “The day will come when people will be lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God.” Even pleasures like sporting activities can become gods in our lives when they become an obsession for us, or when we desire them more than we desire the Lord. People such as our spouses, children, boyfriend or girlfriend, friends or ourselves can even become gods in our lives when we put them before the Lord in our lives.
Sometimes we innocently develop gods or idols in our lives, but we must always be aware that having other gods disobeys and dishonors the Lord, and causes us to experience punishment rather than provision from the Lord. One of the punishments of idolatry is that it leads us to live wasteful and worthless lives. In our text the Lord said: “They worshipped worthless idols and became worthless themselves.” May we never live worthless lives, but may we, instead, by God’s grace and power, live worthwhile lives that are dedicated and devoted to the Lord.
As you pray today: 1) Pray for the Lord to show you any rebelliousness in your life, and ask Him to forgive you for that rebelliousness; 2) Pray for the Lord to show you how you can keep Him first and foremost in your life; and 3) Pray for the Lord this day to enable you to live a “worthwhile life.”