Do not turn to idols or make for yourselves molten gods; I am the Lord your God.
The Israelites were God’s people, yet they fell into sin and received God’s discipline. So Paul warned the Corinthians–and you and me–to learn from their experience. In 1 Corinthians 10, he mentioned five specific kinds of sin that are guaranteed to bring God’s judgment into our lives.
First of all, God judges evil desires. Verse 6 says, “These things happened as examples for us, so that we would not crave evil things as they also craved.” Shortly after the Israelites were delivered out of bondage in Egypt, what did they do? They started longing for the good old days in Egypt. They said, “Who will give us meat to eat? We remember the fish which we used to eat free in Egypt” (Numbers 11:4-5). But what the Israelites really desired was the carnal lifestyle that went along with that diet. Maybe you can relate. You are glad you are a Christian, but sometimes you look back and say, “I miss the things I used to do before I became close to God.”
How did God deal with these people who were longing for their old lives? He said, basically, “You want meat? Okay, you can have it.” It was kind of like an Alfred Hitchcock movie–all these birds descended on them. The people had so much meat they did not know what to do. Verses 33-34 say, “While the meat was still between their teeth . . . the Lord struck the people with a very severe plague. So the name of that place was called Kibroth-hattaavah, because there they buried the people who had been greedy.” That name literally means “the graves of lust.” These people were longing for things that were outside of God’s will for their lives. Why is that so dangerous? Because whatever it is we long for, eventually we will seek to fulfill in our lives.
That leads to a second sin: misplaced affection. Look at 1 Corinthians 10:7: “Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written, ‘The people sat down to eat and drink, and stood up to play.’” Some of the Corinthian converts wanted to combine their worship of God with the practices of pagan worship. Paul said that does not work–God hates every kind of idolatry. To remind his audience of that, Paul quoted from Exodus 32, the story of the golden calf. While Moses was up on Mount Sinai receiving the Ten Commandments, the people grew restless, so they made a golden calf to worship. Did the golden calf represent a god of Egypt or the true God who brought them out of Egypt? Regardless, God sent a harsh judgment against them.
God hates idolatry just as much today as He did then. An idol is anyone or anything you love more than you love God. Your idol might be a child. It might be a mate. It might be a job. It might be a possession. Anything you love more than God is an idol, and God judges idolatry.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Believer Beware” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2011.
Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org.