Ok....so, I was doing a word study on the word "breath" recently and well....:it took on a life of its own, so to speak, and painted a very disturbing picture. Don't get me wrong, there are dozens of beautiful passages on the breath of life. However, the 4 that stood out to me aren't beautiful. This is not the most pleasant blog you'll ever read, but, they are very much meant to be words of life. I'm not going to do a lot of commentary on this one.....my inner Ellie Mae that sometimes comes out in my posts was flat silenced on this topic. No way to sugar coat this one, I guess. I simply want to list 4 passages in the order they are in the bible and see if they strike you the same way they did me, as.... in all honesty.... the message I received in their imagery nearly took my breath away.
Whom have you so dreaded and feared
that you have not been true to me,
and have neither remembered me
nor taken this to heart?
Is it not because I have long been silent
that you do not fear me?
I will expose your righteousness and your works,
and they will not benefit you.
When you cry out for help,
let your collection of idols save you!
The wind will carry all of them off,
a mere breath will blow them away.
But whoever takes refuge in me
will inherit the land
and possess my holy mountain.”
Everyone is senseless and without knowledge;
every goldsmith is shamed by his idols.
The images he makes are a fraud;
they have no breath in them.
They are worthless, the objects of mockery;
when their judgment comes, they will perish.
He who is the Portion of Jacob is not like these,
for he is the Maker of all things,
including Israel, the people of his inheritance —
the Lord Almighty is his name.
“Of what value is an idol carved by a craftsman?
Or an image that teaches lies?
For the one who makes it trusts in his own creation;
he makes idols that cannot speak.
Woe to him who says to wood, ‘Come to life! ’
Or to lifeless stone, ‘Wake up! ’
Can it give guidance?
It is covered with gold and silver;
there is no breath in it.”
And it performed great signs, even causing fire to come down from heaven to the earth in full view of the people. Because of the signs it was given power to perform on behalf of the first beast, it deceived the inhabitants of the earth. It ordered them to set up an image in honor of the beast who was wounded by the sword and yet lived. The second beast was given power to give breath to the image of the first beast, so that the image could speak and cause all who refused to worship the image to be killed.
A little self dialogue that should follow after reading each of these passages from the Word of God: (in order with the passages)
1. Who or what do I fear....more than I long to be true to my Creator?
It occurred to me that it's easy to see why we cave or compromise on issues when we are understandably afraid of someone. It's also obvious when we just flat out want something and don't care what we have to do to get it. That, of course, is an idol. Where it gets more difficult to understand, or even see, is when we are afraid of something. Because, often these "things" are ideas, more specifically...."what-ifs":
What if......I lose this job? Or, this house or that friend?
What if.....they don't like me? Or, they really see me?
What if.....My children don't get "the best"? Best clothes, school, training, friends, etc?
What if.....he leaves, they move, things change, etc? What if I end up alone?
How often do we forget our God and lose ourselves in the fear of what ifs? Too often. And this , my friends, is its own form of idol worship.
2. Am I already being deceived by my own idol right now?
When we compromise our fear of the Lord in favor of our idol, we often will find (though may not admit it or even realize it right away), that we are still woefully unsteady, unfulfilled, and still living in fear. Turns out to not be all it was cracked up to be and really a different form of bondage.
3. Am I in the process of giving life and breath to an idol in my life right now?
This is a chance to stop and examine ourselves to make sure nothing is exalting itself in our lives above our knowledge of God. Not our husbands, our kids, our job, our status, our ministry, our money, our future, or even our children's' futures. Because as far as futures go, obedience to Christ is the only sure thing that won't deceive.....and won't come back to bite us. Ever.
4. Could any pain or frustration I feel right now, come from exalting someone or something above my fear and knowledge of or love for the Lord?
Sometimes when we choose the path of idols, they take on a life of their own and end up doing more damage than the thing we feared when we began turning to them.
It is a disturbing thing to ponder, let alone confront.....this concept of idol worship. I fully believe that the scene that John depicts in Revelation will come to pass. However, I think we could learn from it today, if we could see the beasts for what they are....deceptive. These images we've conjured up of the perfect life....the perfect husband....the perfect child....the perfect house.....the perfect future....whatever it may be.... that cause us to forget our God, often leave Him with no choice but to back off sometimes and say, "If that's what you want.....ok.. Let's see if it can save you." And it's allowed to take on a life of it's own.
It's not what He wants. It's not even what we want.
"Son of man, say to the Israelites, "This is what you are saying: "Our offenses and sins weigh us down, and we are wasting away because of them. How then can we live?" Say to them, 'As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, people of Israel'?"
I'd be curious to know if after reading just the passages, if any of you...like me...felt a little sick to your stomach. Feel free to leave a comment here or on facebook and tell me how they struck you when you read them.