Cause, Cure, and Curse of Idolatry.


Have you read the First of the Ten Commandments carefully and
thoughtfully from Exodus, “You shall have no other gods before Me.”  
(Exodus 20:3)  At first and on face value, it seems that the Great God of
the Universe and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ is:  (1) is admitting that
there are other gods besides Himself, and (2) also saying that it is okay to
have other gods as long as they are not put ahead of Him in loyalty.  We
think back to the world of the Era of Moses and Egyptian bondage--God
Himself through Moses places this First Commandment in that historical
context with the verse of Exodus 20:2 before 20:3, “I am the LORD your
God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of
bondage.”--it was a world of innumerable gods, so that a secular historian
of intellectual honesty might say that the only real LORD God was facing
up to the realities of the world in which His new nation lived and
interfaced.  And, of course, all of us from our years of schooling are aware
of the dominant trend of secular historians to think of religious history as
an evolution from many gods and many idols, like Greek and Roman
mythology, like Homer in the Iliad and the Odyssey, to a higher level of
monotheism or one God.  
{Shortly we must straighten that concept out
from the Word of God based on the first chapter of Romans as was
introduced in the last Advanced Bible Study on Jeremiah and Prophesy,
that one entitled with a short quote from Romans 1:15, “The LIE”.}

31-1:  Right now we must wrestle with some exegesis of Exodus 20:3 to
determine if God really (1) recognizes other gods besides Himself and (2)
permits other gods in the lives of His people if He has first place in
loyalty.  Now, with the history of the destruction of Jerusalem and the
desolation with the destruction of the Jewish remnant in Egypt, we have
after over 30 months, or two and a half years of Bible Study of Jeremiah
and Prophesy behind us, specifically two good historical case studies in
the admission of idolatry in the worship of the Queen of Heaven by the
Jewish women in Egypt by the escaped remnant, and the 70 influential
leaders in Judah who participated in the basement of the Temple {given in
Ezekiel 8} of all the heathen gods in Israel and Judah {all the Baals is the
favorite phrase of many Scriptures}.

NOTE:  Secular historians, like most atheists and agnostics as a sign,
they think, of intellectual attainment, like to wallows like a pig in mud in
their doubts and questions.  Of course, also a little later we will want to
deal with some historians of faith like Werner Keller in THE BIBLE AS
HISTORY and McAdams in BIBLICAL BACKGROUNDS.  And lest we also
wallows in the doubts and scepticisms of such secular historians, we
must carefully lay up front and now, some solid Bible convictions for a
foundation to pursue this timely subject of “The Cause, Cure, and Curse
of Idolatry”, never forgetting in spite of the place of faith in the One God
of the Bible on the part of the United States and European countries, this
is still a world of pluralistic gods.  And whether they are real or not, which
we would say no immediately based on the Bible, they are real to these
other peoples of the world.  You know like government and military like to
point out today, “Perception is real, and if it is the perception on which
people base their actions then it is very real to them.”

1.  Hopefully you noticed in Exodus 20:1 Who all these words of the Ten
Commandments came from:  “And God spoke all these words, saying....”
And at that point in history there at Mount Sinai, after rescue from
Egyptian bondage, He is identified as “your God”, the God of the new
nation of Israel, and as the same God who had the power and love to
rescue them from Egyptian bondage, “who brought you out of the land of
Egypt, out of the house of bondage.”
Granted at this point in the concrete history of the Bible, and in the
progressive nature of the progressive revelation of truth in the Bible, God
had not been thoroughly identified.  In fact, He was not thoroughly
identified in history and in the Bible until Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of
God, identified the God of the Lord Jesus Christ.  {Recall that Jesus often
stated that He not only came to make clear the nature of His Father as the
LORD God of the Universe, but also to allow people through Himself to
come to know Him.  That is, “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man
cometh unto the Father except through Me.”  (John 14:6)}  However at
this time of the original giving by God Himself of the 10 commandments,
the One God of the Universe is simply identified as:  (1) LORD God, (2)
“your God”, the God of the new nation of Israel, and (3) the God who
brought the new nation of bondage in Egypt with great power, love, and
purpose.

2.  You will recall, also in the nature of the progressive and self-disclosure
of God as made in early history and recorded in the Bible, this particular
God of the Bible had to identify Himself to Moses in the burning bush and
also in the wilderness as “the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.”
This God, the only true God, called Moses by name.

“Moreover He said, ‘I am the God of your father--the God of Abraham, the
God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’”  (Exodus 3:6)

Already these children of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob {recall that how the
family of Jacob, 70 strong, went down into Egypt during a drought, and
while under the leadership of God Joseph was second in command in
Egypt}, were called by God “My people”.

“And the LORD said, ‘I have surely seen the oppression of My people who
are in Egypt, and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters {they
were given no straw to make the bricks for the pyramids, and since they
multiplied rabittly, Egypt was killing the firstborn males}, for I know their
sorrows.”  (Exodus 3:7)

NOTE:  It is so foolish, and non-Scriptural to think that God does not
know the affairs of nations, and to think that He does not daily intervene
in both calamities, curses, and blessings in the lives of nations.

GOD STATES HIS PURPOSE FOR “MY PEOPLE” IN Exodus 3:8

“So I have come down {this is significant that God came down to both talk
with Moses and later to make the rescue in Egypt, then lead the children
of Israel through the desert for 40 and 80 years} to deliver them out of the
hand of the Egyptians {you must recognize the continued historical
interaction between Egypt and Israel, such as we noted in the idol
worshipping women who survived the destruction of Jerusalem, still
refuse to abstain from the worship of the Queen of Heaven, and you
should note that even in the multitude rescued from Egypt were idol
worshipping Egyptians, some of whom led in the worship of the golden
calf while Moses was in the very process of receiving up on Mount Sinai
the 10 commandments}, and to bring them up from that land {yes the new
Promised land was and still is north of Egypt} to a good and large land
{while it flows somewhat again with milk and honey, it is no longer a “large
land” since Gaza is to the west and Jordan to the east and Lebanon with
Hisballah is to the north not to mention Syria and Damascus once the
northern kingdom of Israel is to the northeast}, to a land flowing with milk
and honey, to the place of the Canaanites and the Hittites and the
Amorites and the Perizzites and the Hivites and the Jebusites.”  (Exodus 3:
8)

NOTE:  Please note in the nature of idolatry primarily under consideration
that all these 6 mentioned tribes or nations in the land of milk and honey,
had their own gods as by now in history the populating peoples of the
world had “exchanged the truth” of the One God {Romans 1:25} for the lie
of idols.  And God foreseeing the wave of idolatry that would sweep over
Israel and Judah during the approximate 1000 year history of the nation,
gave specific orders during occupation of the land under Commander
Joshua to kill all these idol worshippers.  Instead they tolerantly allowed
them to live, later intermarried with them, and then allowed themselves to
be captivated by the idol worship of these foreign gods.  Of course, as we
continue to nail down the history of Judah and Jerusalem leading to
destruction and afterwards, we will also note the reign of King Manasseh
in Jerusalem who seduced the whole nation into idol worship.  As you
read about this revival of idolatry, you see far from the gradual evolution
of theism of the secular historians.  You see more real history!

31-2:  PROPHET TO NATIONS.  This is a good point to remind ourselves
as mentioned in previous Jeremiah studies that God called Jeremiah to be
a “Prophet to the nations”; and in fact the last 6 of 7 chapters of Jeremiah
{Jeremiah 46-51} are “the word of the LORD which came to Jeremiah the
prophet against the nations.”  (Jeremiah 46:1)

J. A. Thompson in THE NEW INTERNATIONAL COMMENTARY ON THE OLD
TESTAMENT on Jeremiah calls these chapters, “Oracles Against the Nations”.

“Prophecies against the nations were one aspect of the prophetic ministry.  
Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Amos, Nahum, and Obadiah all have considerable
sections devoted to the theme, while other prophets generally mention the
nations.  Such prophecies indicate Israel’s view that Yahweh was not merely
the God of Israel but was Lord over all the nations of the world, whose destiny
lay in God’s hands.  The theme is important in the overall theology of the OT.”

My goodness, Thompson like the rest of the NICs, is generally conservative but
gives too much here away to the liberals:  You can not say that at this point in
the history of Israel, especially with only Judah left and some remains of Israel in
Assyria, that “Israel’s view” was that Yahweh was Lord over all the nations.  
Goodness, it is the view of the Bible that:  (1) the destiny of every nation has
always been in the hands of God; and (2) the One true God, the LORD God,
Father of the Lord Jesus Christ and author of the Bible is the Lord over all the
nations of the world.
1.  “About Egypt...”  (Jeremiah 46:2).
You can read Jeremiah 46, now we have only time and space for the bottom line
of God’s determinative judgment on Egypt with calamity of the first kind to
chastise, not to destroy with calamity of the third kind:  “...Afterward they shall
dwell as in former times--Yahweh’s word.”  (Jeremiah 46:26c)
“Yahweh of Hosts {recall as in all places in the Bible where God self labels
Himself as the LORD of hosts, it is as the God of the Gentiles of the whole
world as well as the God of Israel, and increasingly in Jeremiah and Isaiah and
afterwards as God sets up a plan for a new people of the new birth, there
begins with the kingdom of Christ during His life the creation of a new nation of a
few Jews and many more Gentiles} the God of Israel has said:  ‘Look!  I will
punish Amon of No {Amon was the chief deity of Thebes, Egypt, the capital of
upper Egypt, later merging with Re to become Amon-Re, the king of the gods
and the special god of the rulers of Egypt}, Egypt and its gods and kings,
Pharaoh  and those who trust in him.  I will deliver them into the power of those
who seek their lives, into the power of those who seek their lives, into the power
of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and his officers; afterward they shall dwell
as in former times--Yahweh’s word.’”  (Jeremiah 46:25,26)

NOTE:  In many ways while the book of Jeremiah is the book of “calamities”, the
word being mentioned second in number only to the book of Proverbs, and the
book of “idols” and “idolatry”, it is also a book of some encouraging prophetic
predictions.  We have yet to look at many of the predictive elements of prophesy
in Jeremiah, except perhaps of the prediction {made by God through Jeremiah
but denied by all the official prophets and priests}  that Jerusalem would be
destroyed which goes all the way back to at least 163 years in the book of Joel,
and the prediction {also denied by the officials} that Israel would be restored to
the land after 70 years.  There are quite a few other predictions of prophesy like
provision for a new birth; and like the promise of restoration after 70 years of
Jeremiah 16:14-21, and the prediction of the Lord Jesus Christ on earth and with
His kingdom, “the Branch of Righteousness” of Jeremiah 23:3-8.  In fact this
latter promise by God comes right in the middle of a chastisement in Jeremiah
23 of the false prophets, false shepherds, and their false dreamed up oracles...

NOTE2:  We have also yet to describe how God dealt with Nebuchadnezzar
back home in Babylon, and with prophetic predictions through Daniel, a satrap
over the land around Israel, to make Nebuchadnezzar “humble” before God used
him to both chastise and preserve some of the nation of Judah.  We did mention
how God actually worked individually during the siege of Judah and Jerusalem
as some died, some were taken captive, and some died by famine to selectively
preserve an elect remnant like Daniel, Ezekiel, and the 3 friends of Daniel.  We
must try later to tie Daniel, Ezekiel, and Jeremiah together with some harmonies
also from Kings and Chronicles.  All of these historical facts combine to show
how God was and is the only true God, and how as the LORD of hosts He rules
and reigned supreme in the world, and does now so reign.  Our problem with
seeing God at operation in the daily arena of the life of individuals and nations is
that we can neither see the daily blessings nor the daily curses in the form of
Calamities as coming from a God which most of the world thinks like the elders
in the basement of the Temple who decided God could not see them and had
forgotten them!  {Surely it must be human nature to think God is in it when
blessings are coming, but that God is absent when calamities are being sent our
way for chastisement!}
2.  “...Against the Philistines...”  (Jeremiah 47:1)
We recall the history of battles with the Philistines dating all the way back to
David, and before that to Solomon; and now we have a judgment from God
placed on them during the days of the Prophet Jeremiah.

“...The fathers will not look back for their children, lacking courage,
because of the day that comes to plunder all the Philistines, to cut off
from Tyre and Sidon every helper who remains; for the LORD shall
plunder the Philistines, the remnant of the country of Caphtor.  Baldness
has come upon Gaza, Ashkelon is cut off with the remnant of their
valley.”  (Jeremiah 47:3c-5)

NOTE:  Jeremiah 47:1 states that this predictive prophesy was given to
Jeremiah the Prophet, “the word of the LORD that came to Jeremiah”, before
the attack of Pharaoh against Gaza.
3.  “Against Moab”  (Jeremiah 48:1)
And again in the rest of 48:1 it is “the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel”
speaking.
Gaza you know to be on the Mediterranean Sea like today famous in the news
as an Arab and Muslin thorn in the flesh to Israel but with Palestinians who also
have legitimate claims to the land.  Moab, on the other hand, was east of the
Dead Sea.  After occupation of Palestine by the children of Israel, and as the
lands were divided according to the 12 tribes, or sons, of Jacob, the area of
Moab was occupied by the tribes of Reuben and Gad {Numbers 32:33-38}.  
Yes, they were relatives of Judah and Israel, and the OT Prophets have a lot to
say about that.

“In Moab I will bring to an end the offering of burnt offerings on the high places
and the making of sacrifices to their gods--Yahweh’s word.”  (Jeremiah 48:35)

There is both good news and bad news for Moab.

“Alas for you, O Moab!  The people of Moab have perished, for you sons
are taken away captive and you daughters into exile.  Yet in days to come
I will restore the fortunes of Moab--Yahweh’s word.”  (Jeremiah 48:46,47)

4.  Short Oracles Against Ammon, Edom, Damascus, Arab tribes, and Elam in
Jeremiah 49.
Edom is a good example of a nation which survived but later in the last minor
Prophet of the OT, Malachi, the God of hosts had a lot to say about their
impending future.

“Even though Edom has said, ‘We have been impoverished, but we will
return and build the desolate places,’ Thus says the LORD of hosts
{notice here way over in the last prophet before the inter biblical period
and before the days of Christ, like in Jeremiah and Isaiah, God is the
LORD of hosts}:  ‘They may build, but I will throw down; they shall be
called the Territory of Wickedness, and the people against whom the
LORD will have indignation forever.”  (Malachi 1:4)

31-3:  NO OTHER GODS BESIDES ME.  Has the Amplified Version of the
Bible on Exodus 20:3 rescued us from the dilemma of “other gods” as it
does the following exegesis of the original Hebrew, “You shall have no
other gods before or besides Me.”  (Exodus 20:3)?

NOTE:  Before we go too far afield eventually we must come back to a pivot of
conviction on the proper interpretation of the First Commandment, as with the
bottom line on all Scripture interpretation, from the Lord Jesus Christ Himself,
who interpreted this first commandment as meaning YOU SHALL LOVE THE
LORD GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, MIND, AND SOUL!

The RSV is much like the NJKV rendering Exodus 20:3 as “You shall have no
other gods before me”; and our fundamentalists brethren have fought the use of
the RSV at Baylor, right here justified in their extremes of fundamentalism as the
“me” is not capitalized, obviously a tacit admission at least to the translators of
the RSV that at that time in history the LORD God of the Universe was just one
other god among many.  Something we would never, ever admit!  Although we
must admit that this was the practice and belief of the idolaters of Judah and
Jerusalem in Jeremiah and Ezekiel.  In fact, it was worse than that, the influential
elders in the dark, Temple basement as they each worshipped one of the 70
different idols of Israel, said the God of Israel had deserted them and did not
even see them.  With 70 different idols, they wanted to be noticed.  Of course
the women in Egypt were relying on the Queen of Heaven to bless them with
food, prosperity, and security!
The RSV in the reference notes of Exodus 20:3 does provide some further Bible
insights for us on “other gods” and idolatry.
(1).  Exodus 15:11.

“Who is like thee, O Lord among the gods?  Who is like thee, majestic in
holiness, terrible in glorious deeds, doing wonders?”

At a bare min, this is a tacit admission of the historical reality that the world of
Moses and the children of Israel was a world of many gods.  That the LORD
God was only one god among many gods.  Yet this is early efforts in
progressive revelation to start making the realities of heaven more known and
knowable as this God is holy and pure as contrasted to so many other gods then
and now, “majestic in holiness”, shows Himself to be a alive in human affairs and
the affairs of nations, “terrible in glorious deeds”, and “doing wonders” above
what a piece of wood or stone can do.  Later in the same chapter, Exodus 15:
18 the progressive revelation progresses greatly with the LORD God being both
an everlasting God and God that reigns over heaven and earth “supreme”:  “The
LORD will reign for ever and ever.”  
(2).  Deuteronomy 5:7.
With a note of exegesis next to the later rehash by Moses before the people of
the total covenant with God and the 10 commandments of Deuteronomy 5:7,
“You shall have no other gods before me”, a note next to “before” states that the
original Hebrew can also be rendered as “besides” me.
1.  If you look up a key word of the First Commandment in YOUNGS
ANALYTICAL CONCORDANCE, the word “before” as given in Exodus 20:3 is
not listed but “beside” is in Deuteronomy 4:35.  And you might really think of
Deuteronomy as a commentary by Moses, or God through Moses, of Exodus
and the 10 commandments.  {Or if you chose, think of it in terms of the more
general generalization of more progress in progressive revelation.}

“To you it was shown, that you might know that the LORD Himself is God,
there is none other besides him.”  (Deuteronomy 4:35)

The Hebrew word is “milebad” and the literal translation is “apart from” which
clearly establishes monotheism of the One LORD GOD as quite apart, different,
and in priority, above any other “perceived” gods of the world, then and now.
2.  The point now is that the Jews, since Deuteronomy {or you might say since
the discovery and reading of the Law hidden in the temple during the revival
under King Josiah, Judah was reminded that there was ONLY ONE REAL GOD;
and we must as soon as possible in the study add some references to how God
often reminded His people, including in the famous Temple Message, of how He
got up early and stayed up late in order to give the people His message through
the real Prophets.
(1).  Message of the One True God during the revival under King Josiah.
(2).  God’s frequent reminders through real Prophets of what He expected of the
people in loyalty as the One real and True God.
“Since the day that your fathers came out of the land of Egypt until this day, I
have even sent to you all My servants {not the official prophets and priests, but
prophets like Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Joel, and Isaiah--in fact, all the 4 major
prophets and 12 of the minor prophets of the Bible, most of whom dealt with this
subject of what happened to God’s people of Judah and Israel, and with
idolatry}, daily rising up early and sending them.”  (Jeremiah 7:25)
Obviously it was God that was getting up early in order to send them; although
the real “servant” prophets also had to keep up with God by preaching
{prophesying} early and late.  By now, hopefully you have come to accept the
concept of true prophets and false Prophets early established by Moses in
Deuteronomy {really, God through Moses}, the nature of prophesy in the 16
written prophets and the other servant prophets of the Old Testament like Elijah;
and in particular how the democratic nature of that “prophesy” changed, as God
predicted in Jeremiah, after the Ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ.

31-4:  PROPHESY.  Prophesy before and After the Ascension of the Lord
Jesus Christ.

NOTE:  This sub-title or sub-heading can only be presented now; and if you wish
you can look up these Scriptures in the New Testament and from Moses in
Deuteronomy 18:15-22.  It must because of the length of this message be
treated on a separate web page,
“ProphesyToday”.

1.  Prophets and Prophesy from Moses.
2.  The Predicted more democratic nature of “prophesy” from Joel, and the
witness to the historical event by the Apostle Peter as recorded in Acts 2.
3.  The Ascended Christ appoints “prophets” of “prophesy” along with pastors,
teachers, and apostles and evangelists.
4.  Paul defines much  about the nature of these democratic prophets and
prophesy in I Corinthians 14.
5.  Evangelists and pastors today, along with their churches and denominations,
have gone back to a condemned variety of official prophets and prophesy in
Jeremiah, to abuse the system Christ set up after His Ascension, all part of the
great apostasy called the Falling Away.

31-5:  Does this mean that the Christianity of the Falling Away today, like
with false official prophets and priests of Jeremiah, has gone back into a
newer form of idolatry?  It may sound new like with words like Messianic
Judaism, and “God told me”, and the Gospel of Prosperity and Health; but
it is as old as God’s condemnation in Jeremiah of the official prophets and
priests.

“...who try to make My people forget My name by their dreams which
everyone tells his neighbor, as their fathers forgot My name for Baal.”  
(Jeremiah 23:27)

We must in Jeremiah and Prophesy III look at all of chapter 23 of Jeremiah on
the Official and False Prophets, but for now and by way of a temporary
conclusion on “The Cause, Cure, and Calamity of Idolatry”, we will momentarily
focus on the relationship of the verse above, Jeremiah 23:27, between idolatry
and false prophesy.  

1.  It is obvious when the forefathers of Jeremiah’s generation forgot the name
of the LORD God in favor of a remembrance of the name of Baal, that in doing
so they were violating both the First and Second Commandments of the 10
commandments.

“Thou shalt have no other gods beside {apart from Me}.”      and

“You shall not make for yourself a carved image--any likeness of anything
that is in heaven above, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall
not bow down to them nor serve them.”  (Exodus 20:4,5a)

2.  The official prophets and priests, the “shepherds” if you would “who destroy
and scatter the sheep of My people” (Jeremiah 23:1) of Jeremiah’s generation
through their personal dreams of prophesy when telling these dreams to God’s
people were leading them also to forget the name, “My name” of the LORD
God.  That in short, is false prophesy that leads to idolatry!

3.  Many shepherds of today when they prophesy {preach}, generally beginning
with words like “God told me” or “I dreamed a dream” are lending their influence
to the Falling Away and to newer forms of idolatry, not so much newer forms as
there are newer words.

Step by step in the 5 stages of the great Apostasy of this generation, the end
time Falling Away, that of II Timothy 4:4,5, you can trace in each step the
influence of these false shepherds of today, both in their similarity to the official
and condemned official prophets and priests of Jeremiah 23 and the rest of
Jeremiah, and in their influence of Christianity today.  Instead of new age
philosophy, you might call it the “New Idolatry of the 21st Century”; and just
some of those idols that must be mentioned in further studies would have to
include:  (1) the idol of the American Conscience, products of American history,
sociology, religion, character, and a common community political correctness;
(2) the idol of the American Democratic Faith, along the lines of the famous
American Studies book  MAIN CURRENTS OF AMERICAN DEMOCRATIC
FAITH by Gabriel, except in a contrast between its tenets and that of Christian
faith; and (3) the idol of education and culture, for even “as we think so are we”
so the thoughts and thinking of a nation {American Thought, if you would}
determines its morality and character, and even as “righteousness exalts a
nation and sin is a reproach to any people”, the amount of both sin and
righteousness in our thoughts and character make us or break us on the nation
we should be in the sight of God;  (4) the idol of science, technology, and
computers; and (5) the idol of what was once in earlier American Studies called  
“The Gospel of Wealth and the corollary of success”, now more often called
“The Gospel of Prosperity and Health”, a battle cry most often of the
pentecostals who will not even know by their worship practices when the Holy
Spirit is withdrawn from this earth {II Thessalonians}, which has personified both
greed, deceit, and materialism.
And all we are saying by these false idols which exist only in the brains of these
false prophets and in the brains of their listeners, the people of the churches and
denominations--which are real perceptions and not real gods, reflecting more the
image of Satan and his devils than of any real god--being perceptions are just as
effective in the influence they have on Christianity as if they were real gods!  In
other words, gods exist when they are perceived to exist!  The perceptions are
real!