For the week of March 16, 2002 / 3 Nisan 5762
Torah: Vayikra / Leviticus 1:1 - 5:26
Haftarah: Isaiah 43:21 - 44:23

The Effect of Idols

All who make idols are nothing, and the things they treasure are worthless. Those who would speak up for them are blind; they are ignorant, to their own shame (Isaiah 44:9).

God's reality is one of the recurring themes in the book of the prophet Isaiah. Idols are shown to be absolutely worthless compared to the knowing, seeing, and powerful God of Israel. God through Isaiah asserts that not only are the idols worthless, but those who make the idols are also worthless themselves. And as for those who defend idol worship, they are blind and ignorant.

These are not just criticisms. It is not as if God were just saying that these people are incorrect in their regard for idols. He is saying something much deeper here. God says that idol makers are completely confused in their understanding of what is truly valuable in life. By giving themselves to the manufacture of these false objects of worship, they end up embracing a whole set of wrong values.

Those who defend idols are called blind and ignorant. They are cut off from reality, unable to perceive what is true and right in life.

This all reminded me of something that Yeshua spoke about centuries later. While he was not addressing idols per se, I think what he was talking about amounts to the same thing for us today. In the story of the seeds and four types of soil, the thorny soil prevented the seeds from flourishing. This represents people who receive Yeshua's teaching, but don't benefit from that teaching at all:

The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life's worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature (Luke 8:14).

What strikes me about this is that if we are caught up by "life's worries, riches and pleasures," then no matter how much exposure we might have to Yeshua and his word, it won't do us any good at all.

I think most of us assume that we can mix our worries and our pursuits of riches and pleasure with faith in Yeshua. But he himself said that if we do that, then his teaching will not make any difference in our lives.

If we focus on what is not God, no matter how much we determine otherwise, then those things will take over our lives. We cannot serve both God and idols. It's either one or the other.

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