Gods, idols and altars

“All this took place because the Israelites sinned against their God” (II Kings 17:7)

Despite being a short man in stature, Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, had soaring ambitions.  And I do mean soaring ambitions.  Like ruling the known world in his time.  Ancient writings teach that, “throughout his reign, no laughter emerged from the mouth of any creature.”  That statement, along with the fact that he named one of his sons Evil-Merodach, tells us much about the man that he was.  Fearful that the Egyptians would cut off the Babylonian trade routes to the eastern Mediterranean regions, Nebuchadnezzar invaded and laid siege to Jerusalem to block them.  His plan succeeded.  However, in the process he destroyed Jerusalem and the temple.  He also took thousands of Jews from the kingdom of Judah into captivity. 

But that’s not the whole story of Nebuchadnezzar’s invasion of Jerusalem and the Jews captivity.  Nebuchadnezzar was simply a means to an end for God.  The truth is that God sent the Jews into captivity.  His reason for doing so was their sin.  In II Kings 17 it is written, “All this took place because the Israelites had sinned against their God…..they worshiped other gods….they followed the practices that the kings of Israel had introduced…..they secretly did things against the Lord their God that were not right…..they did wicked things that aroused the Lord’s anger.” 

In the punishment of Israel going into captivity in 586 BC, there lies a lesson for America in 2022.  Whatever we put first, above everything else – will become our god.  Whatever we serve, whatever we live for, whatever it is that drives us – that is our idol.  Whether that idol is money, pleasure, success, beauty, comfort, power, possessions, a career, a goal, or our own selves – whatever we put first and serve, that is our god and idol. 

But here is the thing America needs to learn.  Every god and idol comes with an altar.  And every altar requires a sacrifice.  Some altars will require the sacrifice of our peace.  Others the sacrifice of our health, our marriage, our time, our family, our integrity, our values and morals, our well-being.  And the more Americans serve at these altars, the more we will be required to sacrifice.  That’s how evil works.

That is why God gave us His altar.  But his altar is like no other altar the world has to offer us.  The truth is, on all the altars of the world, man sacrifices for his gods.  But on God’s altar, the cross, it is God who sacrifices Himself for man.  It is imperative that America learns the lesson that we must give ourselves to One and only one God, or Nebuchadnezzar will be breaking down our door.  And indeed, he is standing at the door now.

Remember when God said, “you shall have no other gods before me”?  He meant that!