THE LIVING WORD TRANSCRIPT
Program Air Date - 1-25-09
LESSON TITLE: "TAKE HEED TO YOURSELVES: KEEP YOURSELVES FROM IDOLS"
Good morning! Let me welcome each of you to our program this morning. It is always a privilege to have you with us to hear the Living Word of God. We are excited that you have chosen to give this time of sacrifice to our God. Won't you take advantage of every opportunity this morning to give your own reverence to God, as we together offer this time of worship to Him. May all things be done, to God, for God and unto His glory? Let's begin our offering to God with a prayer!
Today, we want to begin our songs of praise, by singing a hymn which reminds us of the greatest story ever told. So, won't you join in with the congregation at this time as we sing together, "I Will Sing The Wondrous Story?"
(SONG # 1)
In Ephesians 4:1-3, the inspired Paul said, "I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." If you notice here Paul is beseeching or strongly urging the brethren to "walk worthy of their calling." In other words, in this text he was trying to help them to know some specific things which are necessary for the Child of God - in order that they may be considered as walking worthy of their calling.
Paul mentions characteristics like lowliness, gentleness, longsuffering, and even love. Certainly these are all things of utmost importance to the faithful follower of God. But notice the next thing he says in verse 3, that is also a part of this "walking worthy," before God. There again it says, "endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." Have you ever thought of unity in conjunction with all of these other things that make us pleasing in God's sight? Have you ever considered that if one is walking worthy of God, that they must be endeavoring or striving for unity? Well that is exactly what he is saying.
So how do we keep unity as God requires? Well, in the same text Paul goes on to give us seven specific parts of unity which are required by one who is ever living before their God. In verses 4-6, these seven things are mentioned as the text says, "There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all." How wonderful it is to have a clear plan from God which establishes the foundation of our unity. However, notice that these matters of faith are not based on you, me, or what we like or want. They are based on God and His Will. Unity has always been about drawing near to God, obeying Him and reflecting His image, not about us. So consider whether you are striving for the true unity which God has designed through His Perfect Word.
Today we will be continuing our series together entitled, "Take Heed To Yourselves." Today we will be considering the specific topic, "Keep Yourselves From Idols." So stay with us and after our next song together we will return with this study from God's Word.
As far as our guest speaker we are happy to have brother Kevin Patterson with us. Brother Kevin is the minister for the Hwy 13 church of Christ in Bolivar, Missouri. We thank him for being with us and we look forward to him leading our thoughts from God's Word in just a few moments. But for now let's join together in our second song of the morning. The name of this hymn, "All The Way My Savior Leads Me."
(SONG # 2)
By Kevin Patterson
"Only take heed to yourself and diligently keep yourself lest you forget the things your eyes have seen unless they depart from your heart all the days of your life and teach them to your children and your grandchildren," Deuteronomy chapter and verse 9.
Good morning and thank you for staying with us this morning for the program. This passage that we just read has served as the basis for a number of lessons entitled "Take Heed To Yourselves." This Old Testament text recorded a warning to God's chosen people to carefully guard themselves against the things of this world. That warning is still true of God's people today. We are to take heed ourselves against those things that would draw us away from the one true and living God.
This week, we are going to continue this series by focusing on the charge to keep yourselves from idols.
What is an idol? Well if we take a look at the definition of the word "idol" or "image" as is found in Nelson's Illustrated Bible Dictionary, it gives us this information. "An idol or an image is a representation or symbol of an object of worship, a false god."
In a few places in the Bible the word "idol" or "image" appears in a neutral sense not referring to a manmade object of worship. Most of the time, however, idol or image refers to a statue or something of human manufacture which people have substituted for the true and living God. In a satire on idolatry the prophet Isaiah provided considerable detail about the making of idols in Isaiah 44 verses 9-20. He described the smith with his tongs and hammer, and the carpenter with his ruler, line, planes and compass. Isaiah also ridiculed the idol makers by noting that such a statue has to be nailed down that it might not toddle, in Isaiah chapter 41 and verse 7.
Going back to our base text in Deuteronomy chapter 4 and verse 9 we will notice that just a few verses down from that particular passage Moses warns the Israelites about idolatry and the consequences of their idol worship.
In Deuteronomy chapter 4 verses 23-29 we read this admonition. "Take heed to yourselves lest you forget the covenant of the Lord your God which He made with you and make for yourselves a carved image in the form of anything which the Lord your God has forbidden you, for the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God. When you beget children and grandchildren and have grown old in the land, act corruptly and make a carved image in the form of anything and do evil in the sight of the Lord to provoke Him to anger I call Heaven and Earth to witness against you this day that you will soon utterly perish from the land which you cross over the Jordan to possess. You will not prolong your days in it but will be utterly destroyed and the Lord will scatter you among the peoples and you will be left few in number among the nations where the Lord will drive you and there you will serve gods, the works of men's hands, wood and stone which neither see, nor hear, nor eat, nor smell. But from there you will seek the Lord your God and you will find Him if you will seek with all your heart and with all your soul."
This warning about what will happen in the future of the Israelite nation had merit. It was based upon something and it was based upon the history of the Israelite people. The Israelites had already turned to idols in their past even though they knew of the existence and had some faith in the one true and living God.
One of the greatest examples of this in my estimation is a passage that begins for us in Exodus chapter 20 and verses 3-5 where we see Moses who has ascended on Mount Sinai to receive the Ten Commandments from the Lord. The Lord is instructing Him concerning the first two of those commandments. We read, "You shall have no other gods before Me." Then He goes on in verses 4 and 5 to says, "You shall not make for yourself a carved image or any likeness of anything that is in Heaven above or that is in the Earth beneath or that is in the water under the Earth. You shall not bow down to them nor serve them for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God visiting iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me."
While God was giving Moses these instructions that we would have no other gods before Him and that we would not make or create any idols as a substitute for our worship to Him, the children of Israel were getting a little bit out of sorts down at the base of the mountain. In fact, they were wondering whether Moses would ever come down at all. We read in Exodus 32 beginning in verse 1 and going down through verse 4 that when the people saw that Moses delayed coming down from the mountain, the people gathered together to Aaron and said to him, "Come make us gods that shall go before us, for as this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him."
Isn't it amazing that the God who sent the ten plagues on Egypt and defeated the Egyptian people...? Isn't it amazing that same God that divided the Red Sea and allowed His people to walk through on dry land only to see it collapse on the Egyptian army who were in hot pursuit behind them... Isn't it amazing that this God who fed them manna in the wilderness, this God who was taking care of them, isn't it amazing how quickly they deserted Him when they thought something was going wrong?
Aaron, Moses' brother, who was left in charge of the people very quickly had a change of direction as well. When we read in verse 2 that Aaron said to them, "Break off the golden earrings which are in the ears of your wives, yours sons and your daughters and bring them to me. So all the people broke off the golden earrings which were in their ears and brought them to Aaron and he received the gold from their hand and he fashioned it with an engraving tool and made a molded calf. Then they said, "This is your god, oh Israel, that brought you out of the land of Egypt."
Certainly this idol, this golden image was not the one true God of the universe, but this is how quickly the people changed their mind and gave credit to a statue for the salvation that they had thus far received. Well, when Moses comes down off of the mountain, he sees what is going on and in verse 21 of chapter 32 Moses said to Aaron, "What did this people do to you that you have brought so great a sin upon them?"
I always think it is interesting that Moses gives credit to the people assuming perhaps that his brother must have been innocent of the charges. Notice what Aaron says.
"Do not let the anger of my Lord become hot. You know the people that they are set on evil, for they said to me, 'Make us gods that shall go before us. As for this Moses, the man who brought us out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.'"
Now listen to this. It is one of the great excuses that is found in the Bible. "And I said to them, Aaron said, "whoever has any gold, let them break it off so they gave it to me and I cast it into the fire and this calf came out." Well obviously we know that's not exactly how it happened. Aaron had a hand in fashioning this idol into the image that would be worshipped by the people. But he like a lot of people seemed to pawn off his responsibility and his involvement in the situation on someone or something else.
Thus we see in illustrations like this particular that the commandment to stay away from idols was given to God's people on many occasions. We can see many references in the Old Testament, many passages of scripture where God continually repeats this commandment to stay away from idols and do not involve yourselves in idolatry.
Leviticus 19 and verse 4 reads, "Do not turn to idols nor make for yourselves molded gods. I am the Lord your God."
In Leviticus 26 and verse 1, "You shall not make idols for yourselves, neither a carved image nor a sacred pillar shall you rear up for yourselves, nor shall you set up an engraved stone in your land to bow down to it for I am the Lord your God." And yet the children of Israel did not seem to learn these lessons that were so often repeated to them.
In fact, as we move forward into the children of Israel into the time of the kings in 2 Kings 17 verses 9-12 we read this story of God's chosen people. "Also the children of Israel secretly did against the Lord their God things that were not right and they built for themselves high places in all their cities from watchtower, the fortified city. They set up for themselves sacred pillars and wooden images on every high hill and under every green tree. There they burned incense on all the high places like the nations whom the Lord had carried away before them and they did wicked things to provoke the Lord to anger for they served idols of which the Lord had said to them, "You shall not do this thing."
I found an interesting passage of scripture for my study for this lesson that is found in the book of Psalms, a book that is composed of songs. In Psalm chapter 115 and verses 1-8, the psalmist wrote these very simple facts about the one true God of the universe and the false gods of idolatry. He writes, "Not unto us, oh Lord, not unto us but to your name give glory because of your mercy, because of your truth. Why should the gentiles say, 'So where is their god, but our God is in Heaven? He does whatever He pleases. Their idols are silver and gold, the work of men's hands. They have mouths, but they do not speak. Eyes, they have, but they do not see. They have ears, but they do not hear. Noses, they have, but they do not smell. They have hands, but they do not handle. Feet, they have, but they do not walk, nor do they mutter through their throat. Those who make them are like them. So is everyone who trusts in them."
Even though we find a lot of references to idolatry and to idol worship in the Old Testament, certainly that was not the only place in the Bible that we see idol worship taking place. We also jump forward to the New Testament and we see that Paul encountered this very problem in New Testament times.
In Acts chapter 17 verses 15-16 we find that Paul is in the city of Athens and there we read that he saw the city was given over to idols. In Acts 17 verses 22-31, Paul addresses this problem when he stands in the midst of the Aeropogus and said, "Men of Athens, I see that in all things you are very religious for as I was passing through and considering the objects of your worship I even found an altar with this inscription: To the unknown god. Therefore the one whom you worship without knowing, Him I proclaim to you, God who made the world and everything in it since He is Lord of Heaven and Earth does not dwell in temples made with hands nor is He worshipped with men's hands as though He needed anything since He gives to all life and breath and all things and He is made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on the face of the earth and has determined their pre-appointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings so that they shall seek the Lord in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him though He is not far from each one of us, for in Him we live and move and have our being as also some of your own poets have said, for we are also His offspring. Therefore, since we are the offspring of God we ought not to think that the divine nature is like gold or silver or stone, something shaped by art and man's devising. Truly these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the man whom He is ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead."
You see in passages like John 4 and verse 24, we read that "God is spirit and those who worship Him must worship Him in spirit and truth." He is not like anything that is fashioned by man's hands. He is something completely different and therefore we look to the Bible to find who He is and how it is that He wants us to worship Him.
The true God of the Bible has nothing in common with the false gods of idolatry.
2 Corinthians chapter 6 and verse 16 asks the question, "What agreement has the temple of God with idols for you are the temple of the living God." Since God has nothing to do with idolatry, we as followers of God should have nothing to do with idolatry as well.
We need to turn away from anything that we would substitute for God and turn to God as was the case with the Thessalonian Christians in 1 Thessalonians chapter 1 verses 8-10 where Paul commended them for how they turned to God from the idols to serve the living and true God.
Do you remember the definition that I read in the beginning of this lesson from Nelson's Illustrated Bible Dictionary? There was one part of the definition that I did not read and it reads this: An idol or an image, and perhaps the best definition of an idol is something we ourselves make into a god. It does not have to be a statue or a tree. It can be anything that stands between us and God or something we substitute for God. So the question is asked: Can we allow something to stand between us and God? Can we be just as guilty of idolatry as those people that we see in the scriptures? And the answer is absolutely yes! Are there things in our lives today that we can put before God, that we can substitute for God, that we can give so much time and attention that we give time and attention to those things that really we should be giving to God? Certainly. There are a lot of people who put family before God. They put friends before God. They put their job before God. They put money before God. They put power before God. You know we are going to be one week away from the Super bowl, and there's going to be a lot of people who choose the Super bowl over God on that particular Lord's Day.
Matthew 6:33 reads that, "We need to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness."
1 Corinthians 10 and verse 14 says for us to "Flee from idolatry."
One final passage of scripture in 1 John chapter 5 and verse 21, "Little children, keep yourselves from idols."
My encouragement for you this morning is to not let anything come in between you and God, to put God first in all things in your lives. Do not allow anything to take His place for He alone is the one true God of the universe and worthy of your praise.
(SONG # 3 - "Is It For Me Dear Savior!"
Thank you again for choosing to be with us today, in giving this time to God. I hope our time together has been an encouragement and blessing to all of us. We invite you back every Sunday morning at 7:30, as we commit ourselves to this service of God!
Do you have any questions or comments about today's lesson? Maybe, you would like a free transcript or a cassette tape of this program? Possibly, we could assist you with free Bible materials or correspondence courses? No matter what your need is, please contact us at the following address:
The Living Word
2540 N. Kansas Expressway
Springfield, Mo. 65803
Many of these items are available on our website: www.thelivingwordprogram.com
Or if you prefer, you may call us at:
May we take heed to God's command to stay away from Idols? For there are many things in this life which can keep us from God and the promise of His reward. Therefore, let's be found putting God first in all things!