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The Works of the Flesh: Idolatry

Idolatry is allowing anything to come between us and God.

This can be a matter of directly worshipping false gods, in a religious context, or it can be a matter of placing anything above faithfulness to God, in our actions or affections.

When a spouse loves their parents, or sisters or brothers – or anyone else – more than they love their mate, they are committing adultery in an emotional spiritual sense.  They are exalting the other above their spouse in their affections and will seek to please the other instead of being focused on pleasing their spouse. That is emotional spiritual adultery and it is idolatry.

How would you feel if your mate said to you “I can’t do that because mama says”; or your husband had a girlfriend that he loved more than you? You would feel unloved and betrayed yourself; even if there was no extramarital sex; because of the emotional spiritual disloyalty.

In the case of our espousal to Jesus Christ, we have committed ourselves to love and obey ONLY HIM!  Therefore when we follow any other against any part of his word, we are guilty of emotional spiritual adultery, because to follow another we are loving them more that we love Christ!

When we follow someone other than our espoused Husband we are guilty of spiritual and emotional adultery.

Now Christ is a spirit and our relationship with him is spiritual; therefore putting anyone or anything above our affections for him is not only spiritual adultery; it is  IDOLATRY!

Idolatry can be obeying a false teacher above faithful obedience to God; or it can be allowing anything to cause you to break the word of God.

If we decide to work into Sabbath to keep our job; then we have exalted our job, above our love and expected loyalty to keep the word of our God, and made our Job our idol.

If we are dishonest in something in order to make money of some kind of gain; then money has become our idol.

If we love socializing with the brethren in an organization, that we would compromise our relationship with God to keep in our social group; we have made our social life an idol.

If we say that we love a corporate church so much that we would blindly unquestioning obey its positions, that church has become our idol.

Brethren, today the Ekklesia is full of spiritual adultery and idolatry.   Which needs to be rooted out for anyone to become a suitable part of the bride of Christ.

Which one of us would want to marry someone who loved another more then they loved us?  Who would follow and obey another while married to us?

Jesus Christ is no different!  He wants a bride who is totally and completely united with him and not unfaithful to him in any manner!

Today Constance takes a look at images, however images of gods are only representations. Those with idols do not worship these images, instead they worship the being that the image represents;  and although they may think they are worshipping Mary etc; they are still worshipping false gods and placing them above keeping the word of the true God, and that is the issue; placing anyone or anything above the whole word of God!

For us to love some man or corporate entity so much that we accept their word without questioning it by the word of God, is no different than following any other idol or false teacher.

Only those who faithfully follow the Lamb of God and keep the whole word of God inspired by Christ; will have a part in the resurrection to spirit and a part in the collective bride of Christ!

It is past time that we put aside our idols of men and corporate entities and immerse ourselves is seeking our God with all our hearts!

 

Galatians 5:19-21 Works of the Flesh ~ Idolatry

This week in our series of studies on the “works of the flesh” we look at idolatry.

Galatians 5:19  Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 5:20 Idolatry,witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, 5:21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

These verses tell us that if we are operating in the works of the flesh, certain things will become manifest, one of which is idolatry. So much can be said about this one word; the Bible is full of warnings against the practice of idolatry.

What exactly is idolatry?

The Greek word used in this verse is for idolatry is eidólolatria (Strong’s #1495.)From eidolon and latreia; image-worship (literally or figuratively) — idolatry. (Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance)

In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word for idols is elil.  When Isaiah prophesied to the house of Jacob in Isaiah 2, he exhorted them to come and walk in the light of the Lord.  He went on to say that God had forsaken His people because they were going after the gods of the Philistines and had filled the land with their idols [elil].

This was true in the day of Isaiah when he wrote this, and is also a prophecy of what modern day Israel would be like. No longer do we have chariots, yet we do have automobiles which are modern day chariots. As for the things that our own fingers have made; this could stand for anything that men could build with their own hands, and anything that men could devise by their own ingenuity and intelligence; including all the modern day conveniences and technology that Isaiah could never have imagined in his day.

Isaiah 2:6 Therefore thou hast forsaken thy people the house of Jacob, because they be replenished from the east, and are soothsayers like the Philistines, and they please themselves in the children of strangers. 2:7 Their land also is full of silver and gold, neither is there any end of their treasures; their land is also full of horses, neither is there any end of their chariots: 2:8 Their land also is full of idols; they worship the work of their own hands, that which their own fingers have made: 2:9 And the mean man boweth down, and the great man humbleth himself: therefore forgive them not.

The Hebrew word for idol is elil (Strong’s #457) and means insufficiency, worthlessness, idol, no value, thing of nothing. Apparently from ‘al; good for nothing, by anal. Vain or vanity; specifically an idol — idol, no value, thing of nought. (Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance)

There is so much that can be written about this subject, the Bible is full of different ways that we can make things into idols. Idolatry can take many forms and can be anything, either physical or invisible, that we put before God by worshiping something that is not God, and serving and obeying it over and instead of serving and obeying Him. The Bible warns repeatedly that anyone that worships idols will not be in God’s Kingdom.

James has covered many aspects in his posts on TheShiningLight blog on idols, especially as it relates to the many COG organizations and their leaders and how we need to come out from making these things and people into our idols, and obey God rather than men. 

This post is addressing a subject that relates to the idea of thinking it is okay to have claimed pictures of Christ, which is very prevalent among the major religions in our day and age, and has been throughout the history of the past two thousand years. 

Those of us who are part of the Ekklesia do see that it is clearly wrong. But for some who are just beginning to learn about seeking God and the keeping all of His commandments, there still may be misunderstanding about the fact that pictures of Jesus are also a form of idolatry; just as much as looking to the pagan objects that people used in worship in ancient times.

We see this false long haired, sentimental looking type Jesus image everywhere, it seems; in religious magazines, books, study materials, cartoons, children’s books, in illustrations, on Facebook posts, billboards, etc. It shows up in the Christian music videos that some watch and listen to; and there are now movies being made and presented to the public that depict the actors as looking like this “Jesus”.

Sometimes we may think that we can glean the inspiration from otherwise good material and at the same time overlook the things that are considered to be non-Christian.  But if we are not careful, and not guarding our minds, these images can be imprinted into our minds of what the world thinks of as a true representation of God.  The world tries to tell us that we can look to a picture of Jesus and use it as an aid to worship Him; or that we can actually worship the image itself since it is supposedly a picture of Jesus when He was a man on earth.

But even if we don’t do that, all these images that are portrayed so frequently in our media, presented as statues and pictures in public places, or hanging on the walls in hallways, can affect us and can subtly place that image into our mind without us realizing it. It is good to reflect on what we really should be focusing on as to what our image of God should be.

In truth, these are not pictures of Christ at all, but stylized images of Jupiter Olympus the sun god [A physical symbol of Satan] worshiped by the people of Rome.

Should a Christian Look to False Supposed Pictures and Statutes of Jesus?

The second commandment prohibits the making of graven images or pictures to represent anything that we would worship. We are told not to bow down to anything nor to serve anything as if it were a god and not to have any false images to serve as “aids” to worship as symbolic of a god, or even of the TRUE God.

Exodus 20:4 Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. 20:5 Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; 20:6 And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.

Since we know that Jesus Christ is a part of the God family as the Son, this commandment prohibits any picture, image or likeness of His person as well. In the following verse, God the Father called His Son [Jesus] “God”.

Hebrews 1:8 But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom.

Paul identifies the spiritual rock, which depicts strength and permanency, as symbolic of the LORD of the Old Testament as Christ. So the God of the Old Testament was Christ.

1 Corinthians 10:3 They all ate the same spiritual food 10:4 and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ.

Most pictures that claim to be pictures of Jesus depict Him as a man with long hair, with somewhat feminine features, and with a sentimental, sanctimonious expression on his face. This image that has been foisted onto the world, and especially the so-called Christian world, is most certainly not what Jesus looked like at all.

As to having long hair; Paul writes in 1st Corinthians 11:14 “Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him?” If Paul wrote under the inspiration of God [and we know that he did] then it does not make sense and would be a contradiction if Jesus Himself wore His hair long.

The society that both Jesus and Paul lived in during the first century frowned upon men having long hair. The cultural tradition of men having short hair is also attested to by the many statues, busts and historical paintings from that era showing men with short hair; not long flowing hair.

Not much is recorded in Scripture about the life of Jesus before His ministry, but we are told that He was a carpenter and the [foster] son of a carpenter. (Matthew 13:55, Mark 6:3) So we can glean some things just from knowing these historical facts. Jesus could not have been weak bodied nor the least bit effeminate in any way as pictures of Him frequently depict.

Jesus was most likely trained in the carpentry [building] trade of His foster father, Joseph, from the time that He was a very young boy. He would have been physically and mentally conditioned by the strenuous hard work that was required of a builder in the times of which He lived.

The Bible’s definition of carpenter [builder]:

The Hebrew word for carpenter is charash (Strong’s #2796) and means: artificer, carpenter, craftsman, engraver, maker, mason, skilful, smith, a fabricator or any material — artificer, (+) carpenter, craftsman, engraver, maker, + mason, skilful, (+) smith, worker, workman, such as wrought.

The Greek word for carpenter is tektón (Strong’s #5045) and means: From the base of timoria; an artificer (as producer of fabrics), i.e. (specially), a craftsman in wood – carpenter.

 In “All the Trades and Occupations of the Bible” by Herbert Lockyer we are told:

“Out of the thirteen references to carpenter in Scripture only four references specifically state that they were artificers in wood ( 2 Samuel 5:11, 2 kings 12:11, 1 Chronicles 14:1, Isaiah 44:13)The other references (Ezra 3:7, Isaiah 41:7, Jeremiah 24:2, 29:2, Zechariah 1:20) denote any kind of a craftsman, but especially a “worker in timber” (1 Chronicles 22:15). Says Hastings—

Elsewhere in the Old Testament carpenter (also Matthew 13:55; Mark 6:3) probably surpassed in variety those of any other craftsman, for they comprised not only those of the modern carpenter and cabinet-maker, but also of the ploughwright, woodcarver and other specialized arts and crafts of today.” Like any other Jewish lad of His time, Jesus would leave school at the age of fifteen and, according to custom, being the oldest in the family, would follow the trade of the home.”

The work of a typical carpenter of Jesus day would involve the making of doors and shutters, laying beams and floors of houses, fashioning yokes for the oxen, and plows for the farmers, fixing the villagers’ broken instruments such as yokes and wooden plows, and doing any other kind of work involving wood.

A carpenter was not only highly skilled in building, fashioning, fixing things, but the workd was also very strenuous labor. All the work was done without the help of electrical tools that we are accustomed to in our day. This means that Jesus, from the time He was about fifteen until He was thirty years old, did very heavy manual labor, working with hammers, chisels, hand saws, axes, planes, and had to lift very heavy beams and wood products.

Most pictures of Jesus do not show this side of Jesus, the image of a very hard working, muscular young man tanned or sunburned from working outside, possibly dripping with sweat from working in the hot temperatures that were normal for the region where He lived.

Jesus was physically fit enough that during His ministry, He walked many miles on His journeys to and from towns, where He preached the gospel. He most likely slept outdoors without the comforts that most of us are accustomed to. Twice he chased money changers out of the Temple, overturning the tables and using whips to drive them and all the animals out. Jesus was a strong able-bodied young man, and the truth of what He was like when He was a man on earth, is tainted by the images we see touted everywhere in churches, books, magazines, paintings, videos, statutes, children’s books, cartoons, etc. etc.

Most of us in the Ekklesia have been taught and know that the typical pictures of Jesus are not accurate and that we are not to use them in worshiping Him. But most of us come from backgrounds that do promote the long-hair, sensitive looking kind of a man and that tends to subconsciously make us think that this was what He was really like.

This image can be so ingrained into our minds, not just from our backgrounds, but by this depiction being everywhere, even now adays by actors playing the part of a so-called Jesus in videos that have been made about Him.

We may begin to think of it as being a small matter because we are so accustomed to others who are not aware that this is idolatry endorsing these kinds of pictures. From personal experience, I have even seen this kind of a picture hanging on the wall in the home of a COG member.  I frequently see pictures of Jesus in posts on FaceBook, sometimes from well meaning friends and family members, who are posting inspirational sayings along with this kind of illustration.

Even if we would never knowingly display a picture of this kind, we as the children of God, need to strive to root this totally false image out of our hearts because it is directing our minds to a false Jesus, which is in fact another god; an idol of a false god.

When we look for music videos to post for the Special Sabbath Music, we can usually find songs and beautiful music that is Scriptural and inspiring, but most of the videos will feature a picture of this sort or numerous other icons and symbols that originate from other false religions. If a video contains such images we just cannot use it, even though we may be tempted to think that we can just overlook the icons to enjoy the music. But the images taint the message of the song and we set ourselves and others up to view things that are not true, nor Scriptural, and do in fact lead to the breaking of the second commandment.

As to what Jesus really looked like; there was never anyone that ever photographed Jesus nor were there any real life paintings of Him; so therefore no one knows what He looked like in real life. Any picture that tries to depict what he looked like is a lie and would not be close to being accurate. If we look to a picture, no matter how He is depicted, it would only be a likeness of someone that a person conjured up in his own mine, which is exactly what the so-called pictures and statutes that we see today are. Even if someone was to create a picture of a more realistic idea of what Jesus looked like, with short hair, strong manly features, and a muscular build, it still would not be completely accurate and would not really show exactly what He looked like; so therefore would still be false.

The prophet Isaiah described how Jesus would look as a man in this way:  “Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed? 2 For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. (Isaiah 53:1-2)”

He said that Jesus would look like an ordinary Jewish man, and there wasn’t anything extraordinary about His physical appearance. Any pictures, statutes, images of Christ give a false impression of what He actually looked like when He was a man living on earth. They are all false and direct us to worship a false impression of Him, and therefore in reality we are worshiping a false Christ.

Any images or pictures of Christ, along with any crosses and crucifixes; are only paper and ink or pieces of wood or metal and have no power whatsoever to save us or protect us from any danger. They are in fact idols that when used as aids in our worship of God, cause us to diametrically break this second commandment; and because we are putting the physical idol before God, we also at the same time are breaking the first commandment.

Indeed the modern supposed likenesses of Christ are actually stylized likenesses of Saturn or Jupiter the Roman sun god [the Greek Apollo] the chief god as a representation of Satan the chief of the demon gods, and the cross is nothing less than the ancient letter T representing Tammuz the original Saturn representing Satan the sun god. 

1 Corinthians 10:19 What say I then? that the idol is any thing, or that which is offered in sacrifice to idols is any thing? 10:20 But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils. 10:21 Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord’s table, and of the table of devils.

Paul teaches quite a bit on this subject, stating that idols are nothing and that we must not think of them as being anything even close to the one true God who is over all.

1 Corinthians 8:4 As concerning therefore the eating of those things that are offered in sacrifice unto idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none other God but one. 8:5 For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many,) 8:6 But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.

When Jesus encountered the woman at the well He actually had much to say Himself about this kind of thing, for He told her:

John 4:21 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. 4:22 Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews.

And then He added further a profound statement that almost no one really understands or pays attention to! If they did, they would most defiantly not incorporate the aid of pictures or physical things in their worship of the true God. In this verse Jesus tells us that we MUST worship God [which would include His Father and Himself] in SPIRIT and in TRUTH [not in lies].

John 4:23 But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. 4:24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

When the apostle John was exiled on the Island of Patmos, he saw in a vision Jesus in His glorified state of what He looks like now as our Savior and soon coming King. In these passages, John saw Jesus Christ as God and not as the physical man that he had come to know when he was one of His disciples being taught by Him. No matter what Jesus looked like when He lived as a man here on earth, He no longer looks like that. If we are to think of any kind of image of Him, the description that John gave is now more accurate than any kind of human being that we could imagine Him to have looked like.

Revelation 1:12 And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks; 1:13 And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle. 1:14 His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire; 1:15 And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters. 1:16 And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp two edged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength.

John gives us a general description of what he saw and he was instructed to record it for us who would be reading, but still, nowhere was he told to make an image, nor is there enough details by which anyone could create an accurate depiction of Him, even in His glorified state. We are just going to have to wait until after the resurrection of the just to find out exactly what God looks like.

1 John 3:1 Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. 3:2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.

God Desires That We Come to Know What He is LIKE, Not What He Looks Like

At this time, God does not want us to have any physical image in our minds but to see and to know Him as to His attributes and His qualities; to fix those qualities in our mind as we think of Him and as we worship and pray to Him. He gives us many descriptions of those attributes throughout the Bible, along with all of His names that He is called by; and that is what gives us a very accurate picture of what He is LIKE, not what He looks like.

When Moses ask Christ if he could see His glory, God granted him his request, but only in a very limited way, denying him a view of His face.

Exodus 33:18 And he said, I beseech thee, shew me thy glory. 33:19 And he said, I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the Lord before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will shew mercy on whom I will shew mercy. 33:20 And he said, Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live. 33:21 And the Lord said, Behold, there is a place by me, and thou shalt stand upon a rock: 33:22 And it shall come to pass, while my glory passeth by, that I will put thee in a clift of the rock, and will cover thee with my hand while I pass by: 33:23 And I will take away mine hand, and thou shalt see my back parts: but my face shall not be seen.

But what Christ did as a way of showing Moses of Himself was to proclaim His spiritual attributes; that He was a God of abundant mercy, longsuffering, goodness and truth.

Exodus 34:5 And the Lord descended in the cloud, and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the Lord. 34:6 And the Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed, The Lord, The Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, 34:7 Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and to the fourth generation.

God wants us to have an image integrated into our minds and hearts of all of His attributes, His character, and who He is, rather than what He looks like. In past issues of Glorious Living, we have studied the fruit of the Spirit and how these components are the very essence of what He is like. (If you are new to our Newsletter, please refer back to those issues which are posted in the archives and are being posted on A Shining Light).

God is the epitome of what it is like to have love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: and He is all of these things in all their essence.

We studied the introduction to the sermon on the mount as recorded in Matthew 5:1-16, which teaches about the Beatitudes.  These are attributes that Jesus exemplified for us as a man when He was here on earth. And these too, are the things that we are to grow in, for they make up the character traits of our Great God.  He wants us to become like He is, which is to emulate the qualities that He has and to grow to be in His likeness rather than to be concentrating on physical images of Him.

The Worldly Way is to Look to Appearances

Satan, on the other hand, directs us to judge others by their outward appearances. People are valued and held up in high esteem and as role models because they are physically attractive or to be deemed important because of what they have, money and power, which is again directing our value system to outward appearances.

Appearances are deceptive, and Satan the unseen ruler of this present evil world, deceives people about what is important and tries to diverts our focus on material things, rather than focusing on things that would bring lasting peace and fulfillment to ourselves and others. He wants our attention focused on our physical attributes; and while we spend all our time on these things, we don’t think to spend time seeking the things of God that are invisible and spiritual in nature.

Those who strive for the spiritual things of God will eventually be able to see God in all of His glory at the resurrection of the saints. Anything else that we put into our mind as a physical image will only serve to distort the mind from the truth of what God wants us to know about Him. It is misleading and takes us back down to what is earthly and demonic.

Looking to and worshiping appearances is part of what having idols is about. But God says to set our hearts and minds on things above, heavenly things that will develop the inner man into a thing of beauty. In fact it is holiness, that is what God defines as true beauty, not a picture of a lovely man with long hair that most want to ascribe as to being their “Jesus”.

1 Chronicles 16:29 Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name: bring an offering, and come before him: worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.

2 Chronicles 20:21 And when he had consulted with the people, he appointed singers unto the Lord, and that should praise the beauty of holiness, as they went out before the army, and to say, Praise the Lord; for his mercy endure for ever.

We Must Worship God in Spirit and in Truth; In The Way That He Commands

Why is it wrong to make images? The reason is found in the truth that the worship of God was and is to be spiritual, not material. Notice what Jesus said, that we “must worship Him in Spirit and in truth.” A picture can never truly represent the truth about Christ so it therefore by necessity misrepresents what Scripture teaches about Him. Though Jesus came down from heaven to became a man of flesh and blood, He was at the same time, still God. Having statutes or pictures of Jesus or God result in two things, both of which are wrong. They constitute what it means have a form of idol worship and they misrepresent the truth. There is no way anything made by man could even begin to properly represent the full essence and character of God. As such, anything that we would try to use as a representation of Him would dishonor His infinite Godhead and essence.

Deuteronomy 33:26 There is none like unto the God of Jeshurun, who rideth upon the heaven in thy help, and in his excellency on the sky.

Isiah 40:17 All nations before him are as nothing; and they are counted to him less than nothing, and vanity. 40:18 To whom then will ye liken God? or what likeness will ye compare unto him?

What we can be exuberant about is that whatever God looks like in His glorified state, we too, if we belong to Him and have remained faithful thereby qualifying for the resurrection of the just, will someday bear that image just as we have borne the physical image of what He looked like as a man when He lived on earth.

1 Corinthians 15:49 And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.

Philippians 4:20 For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: 4:21 Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.

This is what God is calling us to be; sons of God made in His image, if we have been forgiven and are now seeking to obey Him in every way, keeping all of His commandments. This includes the command to not make any graven image nor to bow down to any thing that we think of as representing who His is; which is idolatry. If we obey Him in keeping all His commandments, we will have the right to the Tree of Life and live forever with Him in all its fullness.

Revelation 22:14 Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. 22:15 For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie.

The prophet Habakkuk asks: how does looking to an idol profit us? and he goes on to vividly describe how senseless it is to think that a piece of wood or metal is a god that will do for us what only God can do. 

Habakkuk 2:18 What profiteth the graven image that the maker thereof hath graven it; the molten image, and a teacher of lies, that the maker of his work trusteth therein, to make dumb idols? 2:19 Woe unto him that saith to the wood, Awake; to the dumb stone, Arise, it shall teach! Behold, it is laid over with gold and silver, and there is no breath at all in the midst of it. 2:20 But the Lord is in his holy temple: let all the earth keep silence before him.

God proclaims through Isaiah, that He alone is LORD and that there is no other god beside Him.

“I am the LORD, and there is none else, there is no God beside me…”  (Isaiah 45:5)

Jesus Christ, who is our Lord and Master, along with His heavenly Father, are the only Gods that we are to serve and pay reverence to, not any dumb idol! 

 
 Hosea 1:1 The word of the Lord that came unto Hosea, the son of Beeri, in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash, king of Israel.

1:2 The beginning of the word of the Lord by Hosea. And the Lord said to Hosea, Go, take unto thee a wife of whoredoms and children of whoredoms: for the land hath committed great whoredom, departing from the Lord.

1:3 So he went and took Gomer the daughter of Diblaim; which conceived, and bare him a son.

1:4 And the Lord said unto him, Call his name Jezreel; for yet a little while, and I will avenge the blood of Jezreel upon the house of Jehu, and will cause to cease the kingdom of the house of Israel.

1:5 And it shall come to pass at that day, that I will break the bow of Israel, in the valley of Jezreel.

1:6 And she conceived again, and bare a daughter. And God said unto him, Call her name Loruhamah: for I will no more have mercy upon the house of Israel; but I will utterly take them away.

1:7 But I will have mercy upon the house of Judah, and will save them by the Lord their God, and will not save them by bow, nor by sword, nor by battle, by horses, nor by horsemen.

1:8 Now when she had weaned Loruhamah, she conceived, and bare a son.

1:9 Then said God, Call his name Loammi: for ye are not my people, and I will not be your God.

1:10 Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured nor numbered; and it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people, there it shall be said unto them, Ye are the sons of the living God.

1:11 Then shall the children of Judah and the children of Israel be gathered together, and appoint themselves one head, and they shall come up out of the land: for great shall be the day of Jezreel.

 

Hosea 1 Commentary

Love for a Wayward Wife Representing Christ’s Love for His People

The time was between the years 782 BC – 746 BC and Jeroboam II was on the throne of the northern kingdom of Israel. He was the son and successor to Joash the king of Israel and he reigned 41 years in Israel. The Bible says that King Jeroboam II did evil in the sight of the Lord and that he was like the first Jeroboam who had made Israel to sin.

Jeroboam’s (II) military achievements had extended Israel’s borders farther than they had been since the days of Solomon’s glorious kingdom. Tribute funds from subject nations were pouring into the treasury at the capital city of Samaria, and the nation of Israel had become prosperous. (2 Kings 14:23-29)

The people of Israel at this time in history during Jeroboams’s reign had grown thoroughly corrupt from their ungodly kings and the other leaders, right on down to the ordinary citizen. Despite repeated warnings from all of the prophets that God had sent to her, Israel persisted in every form of idolatry and licentious worship. Besides the period of Hosea, Jeroboam’s reign was also during the time of the prophets Joel, Jonah, and Amos, all of whom condemned the idolatry, materialism and selfishness of the Israelitish people of their day.

Just as we have been made corrupt in our modern times, ungodly leadership and prosperity tends to produce moral and spiritual degeneracy. Secularism, materialism and the idols of their day had captured the hearts and focus of the people and sin was rampant in the nation. The list of some of the sins that God said they were guilty of was swearing, lying, killing, stealing, adultery; but elsewhere throughout the book of Hosea, He accuses them of many other sins as well.

Hosea 4:1 Hear the word of the Lord, ye children of Israel: for the Lord hath a controversy with the inhabitants of the land, because there is no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land. 4:2 By swearing, and lying, and killing, and stealing, and committing adultery, they break out, and blood toucheth blood.

But the thing that sorrowed the heart of God more than anything else was their sin of idolatry and their forsaking of Him and the special relationship He had with them.

Hosea 4:12 My people ask counsel at their stocks, and their staff declareth unto them: for the spirit of whoredoms hath caused them to err, and they have gone a whoring from under their God. 4:13 They sacrifice upon the tops of the mountains, and burn incense upon the hills, under oaks and poplars and elms, because the shadow thereof is good: therefore your  daughters shall commit whoredom, and your spouses shall commit adultery.

Hosea 13:22 And now they sin more and more, and have made them molten images of their silver, and idols according to their own understanding, all of it the work of the craftsmen: they say of them, Let the men that sacrifice kiss the calves [calf idols].

The account of Hosea and his unrelenting love toward his wayward wife, Gomer, is meant to be an allegory of Israel turning from a loving and faithful God, her Spiritual Husband, to worship other gods that are nothing but false gods and exist only in people’s imaginations.

When Jeroboam I set up the golden calves about 150 years earlier, he introduced the northern tribes to new heights of rebellion against God; by doing so he opened the floodgates to every evil expression of Canaanite idolatry, including drunkenness, religious prostitution and human sacrifice. He even changed the Feast dates to a different month (from the seventh to the eighth), the changing of which “he devised in his own heart”.

1 Kings 12:28 Whereupon the king took counsel, and made two calves of gold, and said unto them, It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem: behold thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.12:29 And he set the one in Bethel, and the other put he in Dan. 12:30 And this thing became a sin: for the people went to worship before the one, even unto Dan. 12:31 And he made an house of high places, and made priests of the lowest of the people, which were not of the sons of Levi. 12:32 And Jeroboam ordained a feast in the eighth month, on the fifteenth day of the month, like unto the feast that is in Judah, and he offered upon the altar. So did he in Bethel, sacrificing unto the calves that he had made: and he placed in Bethel the priests of the high places which he had made. 12:33 So he offered upon the altar which he had made in Bethel the fifteenth day of the eighth month, even in the month which he had devised of his own heart; and ordained a feast unto the children of Israel: and he offered upon the altar, and burnt incense.

Since the Lord considered the nation of Israel to be His wife in a covenant relationship with Him, He viewed her worship and pursuit of other gods as spiritual adultery. The Old Testament speaks in many places of Israel whoring after or playing the harlot with other gods (Deuteronomy 31:16, Judges 2:17).

God had told Israel from the beginning of the covenant relationship that He would not share her with others and that she was not to put any other god before Him. The very first commandment that was given on Mt. Sinai was: “I am the Lord thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage. 7 Thou shalt have none other gods before me.” (Deuteronomy 5:6-7).

But the children of Israel had persistently disobeyed His commandments, had gone after other false gods of the surrounding nations, and by the days of Jeroboam II, the sinfulness of the people had become intolerable, just like it has become in our day.

God continually sent His messengers to plead with Israel and warn her about the consequences of forsaking Him. He chose Amos the first time, to thunder a warning of coming judgment, but the nation paid little attention to him. God said repeatedly in the book of Amos “yet have ye not returned unto me….” (Amos 4:8, 9, 10, 11).

So God sent another messenger to warn again, this time through the prophet Hosea, whose name means “Jehovah is Salvation.” The account of Hosea’s marriage to Gomer and her marital infidelity is an allagory of Israel’s idolatry and unfaithfulness to her covenant with God.

In the very beginning of the Book of Hosea, God tells Hosea to marry someone that would be unfaithful to him. Hosea did as God commanded him and married Gomer and she bore him a son.

*Hosea 1:1 The word of the Lord that came unto Hosea, the son of Beeri, in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash, king of Israel. 1:2 The beginning of the word of the Lord by Hosea. And the Lord said to Hosea, Go, take unto thee a wife of whoredoms and children of whoredoms: for the land hath committed great whoredom, departing from the Lord.

*Hosea 1:3 So he went and took Gomer the daughter of Diblaim; which conceived, and bare him a son.

The very first instruction from God to Hosea, was that he was to marry this woman who would be unfaithful to him and why? “for the land hath committed great whoredom departing from the LORD.” His marriage would serve as an object lesson of what Israel had done to God, pictured by Gomer (a type of Israel) departing from her husband and going after strange lovers.

We don’t really know what Gomer’s past was like; if she was a harlot when Hosea married her or if she became one afterward. But we do know that God directed him to take her as his wife and it is apparent throughout the book of Hosea that no matter what, Hosea loved her deeply and was drawn to her with an unselfish love toward her. He displayed his willingness time after time to forgive her and to take her back if she would only repent. (Hosea 3:1-3)

At the beginning of the marriage God blessed their union with a son and God told Hosea to call him Jezreel.

*Hosea 1:4 And the Lord said unto him, Call his name Jezreel; for yet a little while, and I will avenge the blood of Jezreel upon the house of Jehu, and will cause to cease the kingdom of the house of Israel. 1:5 And it shall come to pass at that day, that I will break the bow of Israel, in the valley of Jezreel.

God instructed Hosea to call the baby Jezreel for his name was to have prophetic significance for the nation of Israel. He named him Jezreel, because it was at Jezreel that King Jeroboam II’s great grandfather Jehu had first come to the throne with his vicious acts of violence and bloodshed. While Jeroboam II’s kingdom seem to be flourishing and prospering at the moment, but because of its great sinfulness, its destruction was imminent and rapidly approaching and it would happen in the valley of Jezreel.

The illustration depicted in Hosea’s marriage to Gomer, his love for her in spite of her unfaithfulness to him, the abuse she received and abandonment at the hands of her lovers, and her eventual return to him; was to be an message for the nation of Israel.

Hosea’s message was to the the northern kingdom and his primary focus was to denounce the lewd behavior of departing from a faithful God to go after abominable lovers; to warn of impending judgment; and a plea to return to God with all of their hearts. He accused the people of being unfaithful to their vows, just as his own beloved wife was being unfaithful to her vows to him. The nation of Israel was violating her marriage covenant by pursuing the other gods of the surrounding nations, namely the pagan god, Baal; even going so far as participating in the pagan fertility rites (Hosea 4:11-15, 9:10).

The LORD was not going to tolerate this unfaithfulness much longer and was prepared to bring against Israel the curses, or judgments, that were promised in the covenant that they had entered into with God (Deuteronomy 28). God’s ultimate purpose was not to destroy them, but to bring about correction. God loves His people but because He does love them, He cannot allow them to continue in their sins and debaucheries forever. This is a dual prophesy for the latter days as well, for the modern nation of Israel is slated for the same kind of correction to bring her to her senses, to help her to realize how horrible her transgressions are; and finally to realize the only way to real happiness is to return to the LORD.

Hosea’s message in the latter portion of his book also contains an encouraging promise that God is going to eventually restore His marriage with His covenant people and will again pour down His blessings upon them.

Hosea 14:4 I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely: for mine anger is turned away from him. 14:5 I will be as the dew unto Israel: he shall grow as the lily, and cast forth his roots as Lebanon. 14:6 His branches shall spread, and his beauty shall be as the olive tree, and his smell as Lebanon.

The marriage covenant that God had made with Israel and the relationship that He desired to have with her, is at the heart of Hosea’s message which was illustrated by his own marriage relationship that he had with Gomer. God chose the small nation of Israel, not because they were great but because they were the least and because He had made an oath with Abraham and then Isaac and Jacob.

Deuteronomy 7:7 The Lord did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people: 7:8 But because the Lord loved you, and because he would keep the oath which he had sworn unto your fathers, hath the Lord brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you out of the house of bondmen, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.

God delivered the children from slavery in Egypt, established them as a nation, and blessed them by giving them His law and His promises. He wanted them to love Him in return and to show their love with obedience to all of His commandments that He had given for their own well being, and to be an example to the other nations.

But the people did not want to obey Him, did not want to return His devotion, but instead went after the other gods that the other nations served, which were no gods at all. They rejected their Husband, the Almighty God of Israel, and formed treaties and alliances with the other pagan nations.

When we enter a marriage relationship it is expected of both partners be absolutely faithful and loyal to each other; it is the same with any kind of covenant with God. He expects complete loyalty. By His prophet Hosea, God spoke to His people telling them that He was about to use severe judgment to help them see how evil they had been in departing from His commandments and worshiping other gods. This message went out to the people of Israel in Hosea’s day and God is speaking this same message through the Book of Hosea to modern day Israel. He repeately pleads with His people to repent and to return to Him throughout many of the books of the Bible; and especially by the mouth of all His prophets, such as this plea in Ezekiel:

Ezekiel 33:11 Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?

The judgment that Hosea warned them of would come in the form of drought, famine, invasion, distruction, sword, and captivity.

Hosea 9:17 My God will cast them away, because they did not hearken unto him: and they shall be wanderers among the nations.

Although the severity of God’s judgment and the correction to bring about a return to Him might give the impression that He was going to abandon Israel forever, God’s true purpose was to discipline, not destroy; and when they would repent of all their sins and abominations, He would forgive them and receive them back to Himself again.

*Hosea 1:10 Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured nor numbered; and it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people, there it shall be said unto them, Ye are the sons of the living God. 1:11 Then shall the children of Judah and the children of Israel be gathered together, and appoint themselves one head, and they shall come up out of the land: for great shall be the day of Jezreel.

If Isreal would only repent, and put away all of their idols, God says He will freely forgive them and take them back as His people. Some day this will happen again; God is going to return to this sinful earth, rescue His people from their physical and spiritual captivity, return them to the land of Israel, and reunite both Israel and Judah. Christ will be King over all; He also will be their LORD and Master (and Spiritual Husband), and He will pour His blessings upon them once again.

The message of God’s prophets is that God hates sin; it grieves His heart; He cannot condone sin and wickedness nor will He tolerate it; His perfect righteousness and justice demand that He deal with it. But He still loves his children and diligently seeks them out and offers them His loving forgiveness, if they will sincerely repent and turn to Him with all of their hearts.

God’s ancient people Israel kept going back to their sins and idolatry; and it is the same today in the latter days. Not only does God’s physical nation of Israel keep departing from His ways, but His spiritual nation of Israel also has a tendency to go after false teachers, and false doctrines.  Just as He loves physical Israel, He loves those who collectively make up the bride, and therefore will seek after and discipline those who are part of the spiritual nation of Israel who may have lost their first love and/or have been unknowingly following after other kinds of idols other than pursuing their espoused Husband. He is preparing and getting readied His bride at this time; those who repent of going after idols and who return to Him with their whole hearts.  When she is complete and without spot or blemish, she will marry Christ at the future Wedding supper. (Revelation 15:2-4, 19:7-8)

Ephesians 5:23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. 5:24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.5:25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; 5:26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, 5:27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.

The following verses in Hosea tell of the anguish of God’s heart that He had for Israel, just as Hosea had in his heart for his wife, that he loved so much, when she abandoned him for her adulterous affairs with others. When something like this happens, it is like a knife going through the heart and is a pain that feels like it will never go away.

Hosea 6:4 O Ephraim, what shall I do unto thee? O Judah, what shall I do unto thee? for your goodness is as a morning cloud, and as the early dew it goeth away.

But just as Hosea never stopped loving Gomer, God never stopped loving His people, His wayward children.

Hosea 11:1 When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt.

11:2 As they called them, so they went from them: they sacrificed unto Baalim, and burned incense to graven images.

11:3 I taught Ephraim also to go, taking them by their arms; but they knew not that I healed them.

11:4 I drew them with cords of a man, with bands of love: and I was to them as they that take off the yoke on their jaws, and I laid meat unto them.

11:5 He shall not return into the land of Egypt, and the Assyrian shall be his king, because they refused to return.

11:6 And the sword shall abide on his cities, and shall consume his branches, and devour them, because of their own counsels.

11:7 And my people are bent to backsliding from me: though they called them to the most High, none at all would exalt him.

11:8 How shall I give thee up, Ephraim? how shall I deliver thee, Israel? how shall I make thee as Admah? how shall I set thee as Zeboim? mine heart is turned within me, my repentings are kindled together.

11:9 I will not execute the fierceness of mine anger, I will not return to destroy Ephraim: for I am God, and not man; the Holy One in the midst of thee: and I will not enter into the city.

And because He never stopped loving them, He never stopped pleading with them; and this is what God is saying to Israel today:

“Return, O Israel, to the Lord your God, for you have stumbled because of your iniquity” (Hosea 14:1).

The Book of Hosea is a message of God’s love and devotion to His people, (both physical and spiritual) and He desires to have a loving and intimate relationship with them. But at the same time, He is jealous of their devotion to their false idols and He will not put up with any other rivals. When His people go after other gods and break all of His other commandments, He will rain down His discipline when it is necessary. His correction may seem intolerable and severe at the moment, but it is sometimes the only way He can get their attention and show them that He is the TRUE God and that His commandments are to be obeyed.

He will keep His promises of judgment for sin just as He keeps His promises to bless for obedience; why? Because He loves us and He, like Hosea, will pursue His wife and seek to woo her back to Him even when she has been unfaithful. His love will eventually win her back when she realizes that no other lover can love her as truly and affectionately as her first Husband. All other lovers will prove to liars, prove themselves to be false to her, and will at some point turn on her; but God will take her back when she learns her lesson and returns to Him with all of her heart!

And some day soon, all the people on earth will come to know the true God of Israel; and will be saying to each other in that day:

Hosea 6:1 Come, and let us return unto the Lord: for he hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up. 6:2 After two days will he revive us: in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight. 6:3 Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the Lord: his going forth is prepared as the morning; and he shall come unto us as the rain, as the latter and former rain unto the earth.

Constance Belanger

 
 Scripture Summary 

Psalm 96:4-9

96:4 For the Lord is great, and greatly to be praised:

he is to be feared above all gods.

96:5 For all the gods of the nations are idols: but the Lord made the heavens.

96:6 Honour and majesty are before him:

strength and beauty are in his sanctuary.

96:7 Give unto the Lord, O ye kindreds of the people,

give unto the Lord glory and strength.

96:8 Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name:

bring an offering, and come into his courts.

96:9 O worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness:

fear before him, all the earth.
 
 

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