“Do not make idols or set up carved images, or sacred pillars, or sculptured stones in your land so you may worship them. I am the Lord your God. You must keep my Sabbath days of rest and show reverence for my sanctuary. I am the Lord.
“If you follow my decrees and are careful to obey my commands, I will send you the seasonal rains. The land will then yield its crops, and the trees of the field will produce their fruit. Your threshing season will overlap with the grape harvest, and your grape harvest will overlap with the season of planting grain. You will eat your fill and live securely in your own land.
“I will give you peace in the land, and you will be able to sleep with no cause for fear. I will rid the land of wild animals and keep your enemies out of your land. In fact, you will chase down your enemies and slaughter them with your swords. Five of you will chase a hundred, and a hundred of you will chase ten thousand! All your enemies will fall beneath your sword.
“I will look favorably upon you, making you fertile and multiplying your people. And I will fulfill my covenant with you. You will have such a surplus of crops that you will need to clear out the old grain to make room for the new harvest! I will live among you, and I will not despise you. I will walk among you; I will be your God, and you will be my people. I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt so you would no longer be their slaves. I broke the yoke of slavery from your neck so you can walk with your heads held high.”
The people of the Old Testament were warned over and over against worshiping idols. We wonder how they could deceive themselves with these objects of wood and stone. Yet God could well give us the same warning, for we too tend to put idols above him. Idolatry is making anything more important than God, and our lives are full of that temptation. Money, appearances, success, reputation, security, and more can all become idols in our lives. As you look at these false gods that promise everything you want but nothing you need, does idolatry seem so far removed from your experience?
Not only do idols take God’s place in our lives; they also enslave us. God took the children of Israel out of bitter slavery and gave them freedom and dignity. We too are set free when we accept Christ’s payment that redeems us from sin’s slavery. We no longer need to be bogged down in shame over our past sins or by trusting in idols; we can walk with dignity because God has forgiven us and leads us to freedom. But just as the Israelites were still in danger of returning to a slave mentality, we need to beware of the temptation to return to our former idols and sinful patterns.
What are the idols and sins that continue to tempt you? Thank God every day that he has freed you from slavery to sin. And use your freedom to live for him.