For the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God. (Deuteronomy 4:24)
Yesterday, we addressed the fact that because we serve a jealous God, we mustn’t be tolerate of falsehoods and lies — that would be akin to turning to false gods. Following the example of Shadrach, Meshech and Abednego, we must always be prepared to resist those who would compel us to bow down to philosophies and ideologies that stand in opposition to the standards of holiness put forth by the God of Israel. It should be noted that there are those who contend our resistance should go beyond this, meaning that we must do more than just teach that there are false gods and false ideas. The contention among some is that we must be more aggressive and actually destroy these false gods and false ideas.
Legend has it that Abram began his journey from Ur to Canaan by smashing idols in a demonstration that no one should serve gods of wood and stone. Certainly there was a standing order that Israel was to destroy the idols and asherah trees that were worshiped in Canaan. In fact, this command was directly connected to the notion that Israel served a jealous God: “But you shall destroy their altars, break their sacred pillars, and cut down their wooden images for you shall worship no other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God. (Exodus 34:13-14)
But now let us consider that this explicit instruction was given to Israel as it related to living in Canaan. In other words, there was no such command given to them about the idols in Egypt, Babylon or any other land save the land deeded to them by the Creator. And so the point is, God expected their “house” to be cleansed of everything that was offensive to His Name but He didn’t require that they go into their neighbor’s “house” — the neighboring countries — and rid those places of false gods and idols. Instead, they were to be a light to those neighbors by teaching of the One God and living by His standards.
Consider Paul’s actions in Athens. When he saw the different gods that were worshiped, rather than mocking the falsehood of their beliefs, he pointed them to the one true God. He did this by addressing the fact that one of their altars was dedicated to the “Unknown God.” Paul used this as an opportunity to be a light by introducing them to the Unknown God — “the One whom you worship without knowing, Him I proclaim to you” (Acts 17:16-23).
The point is, when someone knows the truth, a lie can be easily discerned. So then, we are to live the truth before all, and in so doing, set a good example before our neighbors. While it is appropriate and expected that we break down the “idols” in our own house, it is not always appropriate to go into another’s house and tear down their beliefs. Instead, let us follow Paul’s example and point them to the truth — perhaps unknown to them; but known to us as Jealous.
Blessings and Shalom,