American Idols

trophiesSecond verse, same as the first, a little bit louder, a little bit worse …

How many times will we read the same story?  Israel gets a new king, the new king falls away from God and makes altars to idols, God punishes them, God has compassion on them, God redeems them.  Every new king seems to get a little worse; there was a respite for the thirty one years that  Josiah reigned, found the book of law and followed it zealously.  But then the pattern repeats itself.  God knows how the people are.  When he calls Ezekiel he tells it as it is, “The people to whom I am sending you are obstinate and stubborn.” Later in his call to Ezekiel God calls the people “rebellious.”

The two recurring themes are 1) the lure of idols and 2) believing there is no need for God.  Are we not still suffering from the same stubbornness?  There is a concreteness in idols of Baal.  Baal is not one specific god, but a more generic term for the many false gods.  The people looked for power in any god that came along, that looked pretty, that made sense, that was containable in some way or another.  Idols were seen, they were known, they were visible, they were prestigious, they were able to be created and owned.

Our chapter begins with the tale of Manasseh.  This king was looking for power in any and all places except in a relationship with the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

He rebuilt the high places his father Hezekiah had deserted; he also erected alters to Baal and made an Asherah pole … In the two courts of the temple of the LORD, he built altars to all the starry hosts.  He sacrificed is own son in the fire, practiced divination, sought omens, and consulted mediums and spiritists.

We are no different.  While we may not worship golden statues in our living rooms, we do have a host of idols … money, job, family, beauty, success, prestige, medicine, working out, science, nationalism, capitalism, consumerism, knowledge, self-help, etc.  Each of us has our own “pick and choose” selection of idols that we own, use, manipulate, and put our hope in.  They each have their own particular promise and lure.  They each let us know that we are in control of our own lives, that they will serve us in some way.  They each give us something, but none of them are the source of life itself.  And they all take us further from the compassionate, steadfast love and relationship with our creator.  The idols give us the false notion that we can be equal to God.

Each time we attempt to “do it on our own” without submitting to the Covenant … we fail.  Our world crumbles.  Our homes are destroyed.  Our institutions fall.  We lose … those we love, a piece of ourselves.  We need God.  That’s all God tries to tell us, over and over and over again.  And God is always there for us, giving us life … over and over and over again.

My people, I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them; I will bing you back to the land of Israel … I will put my Spirit in you and you will live …

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