AS I was studying some verses from the book of Deuteronomy these verses out of chapter 4 specifically stood out at me as I was meditating on them in the context of our modern day culture here in the United States.
Deu 4:15-20 "So watch yourselves carefully, since you did not see any form on the day the LORD spoke to you at Horeb from the midst of the fire, (16) so that you do not act corruptly and make a graven image for yourselves in the form of any figure, the likeness of male or female, (17) the likeness of any animal that is on the earth, the likeness of any winged bird that flies in the sky, (18) the likeness of anything that creeps on the ground, the likeness of any fish that is in the water below the earth. (19) "And beware not to lift up your eyes to heaven and see the sun and the moon and the stars, all the host of heaven, and be drawn away and worship them and serve them, those which the LORD your God has allotted to all the peoples under the whole heaven. (20) "But the LORD has taken you and brought you out of the iron furnace, from Egypt, to be a people for His own possession, as today.
Deu 4:23-27 "So watch yourselves, that you do not forget the covenant of the LORD your God which He made with you, and make for yourselves a graven image in the form of anything against which the LORD your God has commanded you. (24) "For the LORD your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God. (25) "When you become the father of children and children's children and have remained long in the land, and act corruptly, and make an idol in the form of anything, and do that which is evil in the sight of the LORD your God so as to provoke Him to anger, (26) I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that you will surely perish quickly from the land where you are going over the Jordan to possess it. You shall not live long on it, but will be utterly destroyed. (27) "The LORD will scatter you among the peoples, and you will be left few in number among the nations where the LORD drives you.
With just a small amount of thought one can draw an amazing paralell to culture as it is in not only modern day America, but it would also be fair to include the cultures of much of the western world. Indeed things have changed so greatly over my lifetime to the point that I never could have imagined the issues of our day as they are compared to when I was young. I would like to present to you today a paralell between the times of the ancient Israelites and fast forward to the year 2016 in modern day America. Indeed history repeats itself. The graven images look different today as technology has massivly increased. Though we no longer create many things from sticks and stones per se, many of our created things are in reality merely an extension of the early graven images.
So let us begin with a verse by verse breakdown in Deuteronomy.
Verse 15: 15 "So watch yourselves carefully, since you did not see any form on the day the LORD spoke to you at Horeb from the midst of the fire,
The word "form" in this verse is one which we should obtain proper definition from the Hebrew:
From H4327; something portioned (that is, fashioned) out, as a shape, that is, (indefinitely) phantom, or (specifically) embodiment, or (figuratively) manifestation (of favor): - image, likeness, similitude.
From the Preacher Commentary series:
The forms of idolatry that Moses warns against are hero worship (Deu_4:16), animal worship (Deu_4:17-18), and nature worship (Deu_4:19). The first two forms take place when man makes an image. The last, nature worship, is a more subtle danger, that of taking something within the created universe and making it an object of divine worship.
Here are some cross reference verses:
Jos 23:11 "So take diligent heed to yourselves to love the LORD your God.
Pro 4:23 Watch over your heart with all diligence, For from it flow the springs of life.
Psa 119:9 Beth. How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping it according to Your word.
Pro 4:27 Do not turn to the right nor to the left; Turn your foot from evil.
2Co 4:4 in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
Verse 16-18: so that you do not act corruptly and make a graven image for yourselves in the form of any figure, the likeness of male or female, (17) the likeness of any animal that is on the earth, the likeness of any winged bird that flies in the sky, (18) the likeness of anything that creeps on the ground, the likeness of any fish that is in the water below the earth.
These verses account for various forms of idolatry which were common in that day. It would be all too easy to dismiss this as some kind of a primative ritual type of thing which has little to do with us in our time. Further we may be tempted to judge these forms of idolatry as some kind of ridiculous and pointless fad of their time-therefore it has very little to do with us. However this type of "acumen" as persists especially in the American culture (known throughout the world as being an arrogant people). The forms of idolatry look different in our time is the only difference. Today many people worship material objects (such as homes, vehicles, technology etc.) Many worship the created things (nature, the environment) rather than the Creator. Here are some cross reference verses:
Psa 106:19-20 They made a calf in Horeb And worshiped a molten image. (20) Thus they exchanged their glory For the image of an ox that eats grass.
Rom 1:22-24 Professing to be wise, they became fools, (23) and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures. (24) Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them.
Act 17:29 "Being then the children of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and thought of man.
Rom 1:25 For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.
From the Preacher's Commentary:
Paul teaches in Rom_1:22-23 that men "became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man." The result of this type of action is a degraded intellect, misplaced affections, and degenerate morals (Rom_1:24-32). The Israelites could not afford to corrupt themselves through idolatry (Deu_4:16)—the consequences would be too severe. Preacher
"And beware not to lift up your eyes to heaven and see the sun and the moon and the stars, all the host of heaven, and be drawn away and worship them and serve them, those which the LORD your God has allotted to all the peoples under the whole heaven.
This verse from Nehemiah I believe even makes this idea even more clear:
Neh 9:6 "You alone are the LORD. You have made the heavens, The heaven of heavens with all their host, The earth and all that is on it, The seas and all that is in them. You give life to all of them And the heavenly host bows down before You.
Lest ye corrupt yourselves,.... And not themselves only, but the word and worship of God, by idolatry, than which nothing is more corrupting and defiling, nor more abominable to God:
But the LORD has taken you and brought you out of the iron furnace, from Egypt, to be a people for His own possession, as today.
This verse is a little more difficult to understand. The following written by Gill explains this well:
but the Lord hath taken you, and brought you forth out of the iron furnace,.... The allusion is to the trying and melting of metals, and fleeing them from dross, by putting them into furnaces strongly heated, some of which are of earth, others of iron; the word, as the Jewish writers (g) observe, signifies such an one in which gold and silver and other things are melted; see Psa_12:6 even "out of Egypt"; which is here compared to an iron furnace, because of the cruelty with which the Israelites were used in it, the hardships they were put under, and the misery and bondage they were kept in; but out of all the Lord brought them, as he does all his people sooner or later out of their afflictions, sometimes called the furnace of affliction, Isa_48:10 where their graces are tried, and they are purged, purified, and refined from their dross and tin. This the Lord did to Israel, he brought them out of their distressed state and condition:
Jeremiah says this:
Jer 11:4 which I commanded your forefathers in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, from the iron furnace, saying, 'Listen to My voice, and do according to all which I command you; so you shall be My people, and I will be your God,'
What the Lord has shown me is a type of parallel between the ancient Israelites as God soverignly removed them from the slavery they existed under in Egypt compared to the foundation of this nation (USA). Or American forefathers sought to free us from bondage as well so that we would have several very important freedoms-the most important being the establishment of freedom of religion-that is no government sponsored or sanctioned religion. Today we as a people are rapidly losing these foundational rights as we speak. The question then arises as to why are we losing the battle for freedom of religion-especially true Biblically based non apostate Christianity. At least part of the answer is that God's hand of blessing has been lifted in America due to idolatry.
Check out this Psalm:
Psa 33:12 Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, The people whom He has chosen for His own inheritance.
"So watch yourselves, that you do not forget the covenant of the LORD your God which He made with you, and make for yourselves a graven image in the form of anything against which the LORD your God has commanded you.
Look at these verses. Is this not true today?
Mat 24:12 "Because lawlessness is increased, most people's love will grow cold.
Luk 12:15 Then He said to them, "Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions."
Here are two more verses very applicable to our situation today:
Heb 3:12 Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God.
Isa 24:5 The earth is also polluted by its inhabitants, for they transgressed laws, violated statutes, broke the everlasting covenant.
"For the LORD your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.
The term "jealous" in the Hebrew can be translated as the English word jealous or angry. Wesley explains this well:
A consuming fire - A just and terrible God, who, notwithstanding his special relation to thee, will severely punish thee, if thou provoke him. A jealous God - Who being espoused to thee, will be highly incensed against thee, (if thou follow after other lovers, or commit whoredom with idols) and will bear no rival or partner. Wesley
Let's look at the following verses as a cross reference:
Psa 21:9 You will make them as a fiery oven in the time of your anger; The LORD will swallow them up in His wrath, And fire will devour them.
Isa 33:14 Sinners in Zion are terrified; Trembling has seized the godless. "Who among us can live with the consuming fire? Who among us can live with continual burning?"
Zep 1:18 Neither their silver nor their gold Will be able to deliver them On the day of the LORD'S wrath; And all the earth will be devoured In the fire of His jealousy, For He will make a complete end, Indeed a terrifying one, Of all the inhabitants of the earth.
Psa 78:58 For they provoked Him with their high places And aroused His jealousy with their graven images.
1Co 10:22 Or do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? We are not stronger than He, are we?
I really like the above verse in 1 Cor-We are not stronger than He, are we? Let's look at what Gill has to say:
are we stronger than he? to give into idolatrous practices, is to proclaim and enter into a war against God; and what madness must this be? who can be so sottish and stupid as to think of succeeding? when God is omnipotent, and man a poor feeble impotent creature, a worm, and but dust and ashes: thus the apostle dissuades from idolatry, and every species and branch of it; partly from its ill effect, in bringing men into fellowship with devils; and partly from the impossibility of practising it, in consistence with a true and real participation of the cup and table of the Lord; and from the absurdity and stupidity of it, and its dangerous consequence, in exposing men to the vengeance of an almighty incensed Being. John Gill
"When you become the father of children and children's children and have remained long in the land, and act corruptly, and make an idol in the form of anything, and do that which is evil in the sight of the LORD your God so as to provoke Him to anger,
This verse iserves as a "brake check" for me. I am both a father and grandfather andhave lived long in the land. I need to stop and think-have I made idols in the form of anything lately? Have I done evil in the sight of the Lord my God to provoke Him to anger?
Hos 9:9 They have gone deep in depravity As in the days of Gibeah; He will remember their iniquity, He will punish their sins.
I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that you will surely perish quickly from the land where you are going over the Jordan to possess it. You shall not live long on it, but will be utterly destroyed.
Some of you may remember the old radio show preacher J. Vernon McGee. He has a wonderful way of putting ideas into a simple straight forward perspective. Here is what he says:
That nation is still a witness to the world today, a witness in their disobedience. They are scattered over the world today. Why? Because they did the thing God forbade them to do. I know someone will point out that they are back in the land and they are a nation now. Yes, but they are in trouble, aren't they? When God brings them back into that land as He predicted, they won't be having the trouble they are having today. The nation of Israel is still under the judgment of God today because it has turned its back upon God. Judgment will come upon any nation which rejects Him. This is a tremendous lesson for us today. J. Vernon McGee
Here is a verse from The prophet Jeremiah and the propher Isaiah:
Jer 22:29 "O land, land, land, Hear the word of the LORD!
Isa 6:11 Then I said, "Lord, how long?" And He answered, "Until cities are devastated and without inhabitant, Houses are without people And the land is utterly desolate,
And a verse from the New Testament:
Luk 21:24 and they will fall by the edge of the sword, and will be led captive into all the nations; and Jerusalem will be trampled under foot by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.
"The LORD will scatter you among the peoples, and you will be left few in number among the nations where the LORD drives you. In large part as a
AS we conclude with this verse today let us consider both how these verses from Deuteronomy effect us personally, corporately (for example in your church, or perhaps workplace), and as a nation. The nation in which I was born-the United States of America is now suffering the punishment for such terrible sin in our land as we forsake God as a nation. Though America has not yet been scattered as a nation-one must consider the that which could be inevitable:
Eze 12:15 "So they will know that I am the LORD when I scatter them among the nations and spread them among the countries.
Note from Pastor Bob- I am currently exploring the use of YouTube videos, GodTube videos and audio tracks hosted on SoundCloud. I have purchased new editing software in order to produce hopefully good quality videos. I have much to learn in this new effort. Below please see links to a YouTube video of this post and an audio as well. This one is rather long, (25 min.) the next video I produce I promise will be of shorter duration.
Audio Link: https://soundcloud.com/user-77478298/forms
Posted by Pastor Robert Bannister