21st Century America has forgotten who God is and what He demands. America is full of idols that take on many forms. Some idols take on the typical understanding as expressed in one Bible dictionary:
IDOLS, IDOLATRY Man-made images or natural representations worshiped as deities; anything receiving worship other than the one true God. Idolatry is the spiritual worship of an idol
Elwell, W. A., & Comfort, P. W. (2001). In Tyndale Bible dictionary (p. 624). Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.
There are other idols. The shut-down of spectator sports due to COVID-19 makes Americans’ worship of sports very apparent. Sports have many good attributes, but they can become an idol:
Sports bring people together. They encourage health and fitness. They cultivate grit and discipline. They provide an array of life lessons. They can also be a wholesome source of entertainment. Sports are a gift from God. However, as with anything, if we are not careful, the gift can supplant the Giver. Sports can become a golden calf that leads us down the path of idolatry.
Jon D. Payne, The Idolatry of Sports, Tabletalk Magazine, January, 2018.
The common thread between idols is that the idolater places the idol above God.
The Old Testament is filled with passages that warn about idols, idolatry, and idolaters. One such text is Deuteronomy 4:23–24 (ESV)
23 Take care, lest you forget the covenant of the Lord your God, which he made with you, and make a carved image, the form of anything that the Lord your God has forbidden you. 24 For the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.
Even though this passage is found in the Old Testament, it teaches 21st Christ-followers a valuable lesson about idolatry. A 21st Century Christ-follower must take care to not fall into the trap of forgetting about what God has done for him or her through Jesus Christ, i.e., the New Covenent. Verse 23 says:
23 Take care, lest you forget the covenant of the Lord your God, which he made with you,
Practically speaking, it is possible for Christ-follower to “forget” about their New Covenant relationship with their God which can cause them to:
… and make a carved image, the form of anything that the Lord your God has forbidden you.
It is dangerous for a believer to put anything in his or her before God, i.e., enter into idol worship. As one commentator writes:
God’s jealousy was grounded in his zeal for his own honor and the purity of his people. There could be no rivals for allegiance. The LORD was the only God and had exclusive claim on Israel. His redemption of Israel required her utmost loyalty to the covenant. But idolatry was the preeminent violation of that loyalty (see 5:9; 6:15; 32:16, 21; Exod 34:14). The fire of God’s redeeming love had brought Israel out of the fire of bondage (v. 20) to become his precious inheritance. To tolerate rivals was unthinkable.
Hall, G. H. (2000). Deuteronomy (pp. 101–102). Joplin, MO: College Press Pub. Co.
The consequences of idol worship are severe:.
24 For the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.
While a Christ-follower cannot lose their salvation (e.g., John 10:22-29), God can certainly discipline His children. For example, Hebrews 12:7–11 (ESV) makes that clear:
7 It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? 8 If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. 9 Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. 11 For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
Assuming spectator sports reopens, it seems wise to consider just how important they are in one’s life so as to not allow them to gain idol status.
The Professor Grant Horner Bible Reading System is a great 500 day Bible reading plan. The following link presents a description of the plan ( https://sohmer.net/media/professor_grant_horners_bible_reading_system.pdf). My goal has been to briefly share my thoughts on the passage that stood out the most for me on Day 157.
If you are reading this post and are not a Christian, unless God intervenes, your eternal destination is hell. But, your destiny can change. Today can be the day of your salvation. Please see my blog (https://stevebelsheim.com/2020/04/20/for-god-so-loves-you-2/) for a description of how you can be saved.
NOTICE OF PERMISSIONS
I am mindful of and respect the rights other authors and/or publishers possess in their works. I thus try my best to not violate any copyright rights other authors and/or publishers possess in their works. The below copyright permission statement is the result of my best efforts to understand that limited usage or “fair use” is available and/or to secure direct permission for specific works. The quotations from commentaries are considered to be “fair use.”
Scripture quotations marked “ESV” are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version) copyright 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Scripture marked “NASB95” are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.”
Scripture marked “NCV” is taken from the New Century Version. Copyright © 1987, 1988, 1991 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”
The Scriptures marked “NET” are quoted are from the NET Bible® http://netbible.com copyright ©1996, 2019 used with permission from Biblical Studies Press, L.L.C. All rights reserved”.
Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.