Then Samuel spoke to all the house of Israel, saying, “If you return to the Lord with all your hearts, then put away the foreign gods and the Ashtoreths from among you, and prepare your hearts for the Lord, and serve Him only; and He will deliver you from the hand of the Philistines.” So the children of Israel put away the Baals and the Ashtoreths, and served the Lord only (1 Samuel 7, 3-4).
As we study yesterday, the children of Israel after a long time came back longing for the Lord and seeking Him. But it wasn't enough for them to yearn for His presence and for His glory. They had to go a step further: Serving Him with all their hearts.
Over the course of the twenty years that they forsook the ark of God, the children of Israel replaced the worship of Yahweh with the worship of other gods, the gods of the land. Their hearts were no longer fully committed to the Lord as they were commanded by Moses: You shall have no other gods before Me (Exodus 20, 1).
Their devotion was no longer to the Lord only but shared with other gods: Baals and Ashtoreths, the idols of the Philistines.
An idol is an image or other material object representing a deity to which religious worship is addressed; or any person or thing regarded with admiration, adoration, or devotion. Let’s break it down. According to this definition, idols are more than carved images or representation talked about in the bible. They are anything or person that command our admiration, adoration or devotion or more than God, or anything taking precedence over your relationship with God can become idols in your lives. Idols can cause us to rely, depend or glory in them instead of looking up to God solely.
As a Christian, follower of Jesus, nothing should require our worship more than God, nobody should be esteemed higher than our relationship with God. Nothing in our lives should come before God. No substitute or replacement. Money, car, house, job can become an idol in someone’s life, even a spouse. If you don't want to give hospitality because church members will stain you carpet, your house has become an idol.
Further, unforgiveness, pride, reputation, self-esteem, our desire to live a comfortable life, be successful and popular can become an idol. These are just few examples.
The question is what or who are we giving priority in our lives? The Holy Spirit will be able to tell us individually the idols in our heart that we need to dethroned. They are an abomination to the Lord because He is a jealous God and does not share His glory.
According to Ezekiel, these are things that hinder us in our Christian journey or become a stumbling block and cause us to trip in our walk with the Lord. The idols in our hearts impact on our prayers and can prevent them from being answered.
“Now some of the elders of Israel came to me and sat before me. And the word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Son of man, these men have set up their idols in their hearts, and put before them that which causes them to stumble into iniquity. Should I let Myself be inquired of at all by them? “Therefore speak to them, and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “Everyone of the house of Israel who sets up his idols in his heart, and puts before him what causes him to stumble into iniquity, and then comes to the prophet, I the Lord will answer him who comes, according to the multitude of his idols, that I may seize the house of Israel by their heart, because they are all estranged from Me by their idols” (Ezekiel 14, 1-5).
This year, let’s get rid of the idols of our hearts and walk in the fear of God only so that we are not ensnared. “They served their idols, which became a snare to them” (Psalm 106, 36).