The Israelite nation was born in the man Abram, but the nation did not develop until it was enslaved in Egypt. Joseph, one of the 12 sons of Jacob (Israel) was sold into slavery you will remember but in his faithfulness to the Lord finds himself elevated to 2nd in command in the land of Egypt where he helps Egypt survive and thrive during a severe drought. He brought his father and brothers to Egypt, but after 400 years, things had changed.
The entire nation had grown up knowing an environment of multiple gods. The Egyptians had a god for everything and anything. So, when Moses showed up and delivered them from Egypt, God spoke to them in the wilderness from a booming voice in Heaven. Along with this voice, came smoke, thunder, and lightning at the Mountain of God. The Lord told them to behave themselves and spoke the ten commandments to them. And of course, the first commandment was to have no other gods. In light of this mystical voice from Heaven in the ominous smoke and thunder, they quickly responded to God saying, “We will do all you say.” But that didn’t last long.
Moses went up on the mountain to speak with God and in less than 40 days, the Israelites had forgotten their promise to God and made for themselves a golden calf to worship. This was an Egyptian god.
Isn’t something how we can be so easily influenced to worship the gods of those around us?
Many times over, the Lord, in His own voice and through the voice of Moses reminded the people that there was only one, true God and that He was One. This was a serious contradiction of everything they had seen in Egypt and when they crossed the Jordan into the Promised Land, there were many nations that worshipped many gods. This is why the Lord reminded them:
Hear O Israel: The Lord our God. The Lord is one. (NIV)
This was not a lesson about the Trinity, but a reminder that there is only one God, not hundreds. This may have been the greatest struggle for the nation of Israel throughout the Old Testament. They were constantly worshiping the gods of other nations. They never stopped worshiping Jehovah, but they included the gods of all the nations around them.
Are we worshiping the gods of the culture around us?
The church is now the spiritual children of Abraham and the spiritual nation of Israel living. And in the United States, it could easily be said that we are living in a land of milk and honey. We are so prosperous and so free, but have we done the same thing. Are we worshiping the gods of the culture around us? Do we worship money? Appearance? Reputation? Pleasure? Position? Success? Fame? Do we find ourselves running after the same things the secular culture around us seeks?
And much like the Israelites of old, we have not stop worshiping the Lord, but we have included the worship of the other gods of our culture.
The gods of this age do not require spiritual monogamy
The gods of the Old Testament nations that lured Israel into polytheistic practices were quite obvious. Worship of these required things God obviously detested such as sexual orgies and the sacrifice of babies. But the gods of our culture are more sly, more conspicuous. They require nothing more than mixed loyalty between them and the Lord. As long as they can create moments when we seek them just a little bit more than we seek the Lord, they are content. The gods of our age, just like the gods of ancient Israel, do not require spiritual monogamy. They are content to share us with many other gods.
The other thing about many of the gods of our current culture is that they are also things God has promised us. He has promised to bless us and to give us success. He has blessed us with a full life of joy, happiness, and peace. He has promised us favor and increase. But He gives us these promises only after we first seek the Kingdom of God. If we will seek Him first, He will add all of these things to us. We don’t have to deny Him to be blessed financially. We don’t have to make the Lord less than to have good friendships. We don’t have to love him less to get anything.
Seek first the Kingdom of God!
The gods of our world are only gods when we make them equal to the Lord. When we find ourselves disobeying the Lord in order to hold these other gods, we have fallen into the same trap as Israel. But if we will obey the Lord even if it means sacrificing these other things, He will eventually give them to us, but they will come in the form of blessings of life, not idols of strife. Let us seek first the Kingdom of God for He is One!