Idols in the Temple :: By Nathele Graham

Idols and Sin

Then said he unto me, Son of man, hast thou seen what the ancients of the house of Israel do in the dark, every man in the chambers of his imagery? for they say, The LORD seeth us not; the LORD hath forsaken the earth (Ezekiel 8:12).

We all have secrets. You may think the secret is known only to you, but it’s not hidden from God. Throughout the Bible we have examples of actions that were thought to be secret but were in fact known by God. For instance, God entrusted Adam with the admonition that he was not to eat the Forbidden Fruit. Adam and Eve sinned and ate the fruit, then tried to hide from God. He knew where they were and what they did.

In the New Testament we read that Jesus knew what people were thinking. On one occasion He knew a man was possessed by demons; and He traveled across the sea for the sole purpose of ridding that man of his many demons.

No matter where you are or what you’ve done, God knows. He also loves you enough to help you in your time of weakness and forgive you. After all, it was Adam’s original sin that created the need for Jesus Christ to shed His blood on the cross to take our sin away. All sin can be forgiven if you confess to Him.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).

Sin always comes between us and God. Don’t make excuses for your sin, but ask for forgiveness and He will forgive you. Then, turn away from those idols you’ve allowed into the temple.

God repeatedly warns us against idolatry. When we think of idols we usually envision a statue made by pagan witchdoctors that supposedly has power over certain things. These false gods do have power, but that power comes from Satan.

Whenever the Israelites lived around a pagan culture, they would begin to worship the pagan gods around them. When they left Egypt, for example, they made a golden calf to worship at the very time that God was giving Moses the Law on Mt. Sinai.

Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me (Exodus 20:3-5).

That’s not hard to understand, but idols come in many forms; and we think that God doesn’t notice when we put Him in second place. Make no mistake, He does notice.

It would stand to reason that after the Jewish people were settled in the Promised Land and the Temple was built in Jerusalem that idolatry would have ended. Not so. Over and over we read that when one of the good kings of Israel came to power he would destroy the groves, the high places, and the idols.

You may feel that you can worship God while fishing or watching football as easily as you can when sitting in a pew. Can you? When your team scores are you singing praise to God or idolizing the team on the field?

The priests who served in the Temple were men who had all appearances of holiness. They may have fooled people but they couldn’t fool God. God knew exactly what went on inside the Temple. He took Ezekiel to Jerusalem and placed him before the inner gate of the Temple where was the seat of the image of jealousy, which provoketh to jealousy (Ezekiel 8:3b).

What was that image? Scripture doesn’t describe it, but is there anything at your house of worship that would provoke God to jealousy? How about a statue of the Virgin Mary or various man-appointed saints? These idols should never be a part of a Christian’s life. Mary and the “saints” were just humans and not to be venerated.

After Ezekiel saw what was happening in the Temple, He was shown women weeping for Tammuz. Tammuz was a demonic perversion in advance of the virgin birth and the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Today we might bring Easter eggs into our house of worship. Easter and the eggs began with Tammuz. We should celebrate the Resurrection of our Lord rather than follow pagan idolatry. We need to remove the idols from our places of worship.

Then Ezekiel was shown a hole in the wall of the Temple and was told to dig. He found a door and was told to go in and see the wickedness inside.

So I went in and saw; and behold every form of creeping things, and abominable beasts, and all the idols of the house of Israel, portrayed upon the wall round about. And there stood before them seventy men of the ancients of the house of Israel, and in the midst of them stood Jaazaniah the son of Shaphan, with every man his censer in his hand; and a thick cloud of incense went up (Ezekiel 8: 10-11).

It was the religious leaders who were bringing abominations into the Temple. Did they think they were hiding this perversion? Oddly enough, the name “Jaazaniah” means “Jehovah hears.” God hears all and sees all. Nothing can be hidden from God.

And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret (Ephesians 5:11-12).

If you feel as if you need to hide anything you do, it’s probably something you shouldn’t be doing. You may hide it from your parents, your siblings, your spouse, or your friends, but can’t hide it from God.

Brothers and sisters, pay attention to what’s practiced in the place you choose to worship. Are New Age ideas being embraced? Is there a yoga class or contemplative prayer? How about statues of supposed holy people? These things don’t go unseen by God. His word hasn’t changed, so we can be sure that what was sin for Adam, Sodom and Gomorrah, and the priests in Ezekiel’s time is still sin today. Don’t put any idol in the temple or in your life.

What do events that took place thousands of years ago in the Jewish Temple at Jerusalem have to do with Christians today? Everything. From the earliest beginnings of Christianity there was a question as to whether a Gentile had to become Jewish before becoming a Christian. After much prayer those men who were chosen as leaders concluded that there were only four things that a Gentile who had turned to God had to do.

Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God: but that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication and from things strangled, and from blood (Acts 15:19-20).

First is abstain from the pollutions of idols. Anything and everything we put ahead of Christ is an idol.

Working to earn a living is a good thing, but does your job interfere with Bible study? If so, your job is an idol, especially if you use all the money you earn to buy selfish things instead of using it to honor God. Personally, I struggle with video games. Oh, not the violent ones but cute little cartoon ones, so that’s not bad is it? When that game interferes with my Bible study, then I have to stop and put God first.

Television? Movies? You name it and it can become an idol. What about lifestyles that are abominable to God? If you put your own selfish desires above what God declares is acceptable, then you’ve put an idol ahead of God.

Only Bible study can teach you about God. Study His word and apply it to your life.

The Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 AD, so how can we worry about idols in the Temple? The Temple that had been built with hands was destroyed, but the one built by God is still around. It’s in you. If you’re a true believer in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ then you are indwelt by the Holy Spirit. That indwelling is a blessing that should never be taken for granted. Because He indwells you, the Temple is within you.

Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are (1 Corinthians 3:16-17).

That’s a humbling fact. God dwells in you, and when you sin you take Him with you. Do you think it’s wise to take God into a pornography shop or with you to an R-rated movie? He isn’t surprised by the content of the abominable places you go and things you do, but the fact that you choose to take Him there is a sad comment upon your actions. Don’t yoke yourself with unbelievers, because their idols will become yours.

Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people (2 Corinthians 6:14-16).

As long as we live on this side of Heaven we will live among people who see nothing wrong with the things God calls sin. If you choose to yoke yourself with these non-believers, then you will find yourself putting idols in the temple of God that is within you. Be very careful.

If you’ve truly accepted Christ, then all your sins are forgiven. That isn’t a license to live a sinful lifestyle but should create a strong desire to please Him. We please Him by living our life to honor Him. We all fail, but that’s when we ask for forgiveness and for His help to keep us away from the sin in our life…the idols in the temple.

BETH. Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word. With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments. Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee. Blessed art thou, O LORD: teach me thy statutes. With my lips have I declared all the judgments of thy mouth. I have rejoiced in the way of thy testimonies, as much as in all riches. I will meditate in thy precepts, and have respect unto thy ways. I will delight myself in thy statutes: I will not forget thy word (Psalm 119:9-16).

Delight yourself in the Lord and His ways.

Are there idols in the temple within you? It’s time to cleanse it and remove the idols you allow to defile it. Study God’s word and take delight in living by it.

God bless you all,

Nathele Graham

twotug@embarqmail.com

www.straitandnarrowministry.com

ron@straitandnarrowministry.com

Ron and Nathele Graham’s previous commentaries archived at http://www.raptureready.com/featured/graham/graham.html

All original scripture is “theopneustos,” God breathed.

If you’d like to be on my mailing list to receive the commentaries, just drop me an email and let me know.

 

Walk in the Spirit, Not in the World :: By Nathele Graham

The mainstream news today could easily be confused with tabloid scandal magazines. There are many important prophetic events happening, but “news” stories about sexual misconduct of men in power seem to be more important than the alliances coming together in the Middle East. Moral corruption is everywhere, and it’s time that it comes to an end. America, and indeed all nations, need to hold God’s word as the moral standard of living.

Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: but I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart (Matthew 5:27-28). 

Moral responsibility isn’t a popular subject, but until men learn to be gentlemen and women learn to be ladylike, we will continue on the downward spiral of moral destruction.

There are two sides to these “news” stories, but it seems as if only one side is promoted. A woman accuses a man, and the man is convicted by the media without the benefit of a trial by jury. In many cases these accusations stem from a situation decades earlier. Why didn’t these accusations happen at the time the misconduct occurred?

Another question is whether or not the woman has some responsibility in the misconduct. This isn’t a popular question, but if a person puts themself in a compromising situation, then there should be no surprise when the worst happens. Should the men be held responsible for their misconduct? Absolutely. Should the woman be held responsible if she allowed herself to be in a compromising situation? Absolutely.

As always we can look into God’s word and see examples which will give insight into how we should conduct our own life. Let’s look at a few instances in Scripture that can teach lessons to those willing to learn.

Dinah, the daughter of Jacob, was a victim of rape. She wasn’t flaunting herself but was in a place where she shouldn’t have been. Jacob had moved his large family to the land occupied by the Canaanites. These people were heathens who worshipped pagan gods. The ways of the world may cause us to be curious, but this curiosity can get us into trouble. So it was for Dinah.

And Dinah the daughter of Leah, which she bare unto Jacob, went out to see the daughters of the land. And when Shechem the son of Hamor the Hivite, prince of the country, saw her, he took her, and lay with her, and defiled her (Genesis 34:1-2).

Had Dinah not been socializing with the Canaanites, she wouldn’t have been in a place where she could be assaulted. As it was, she caught the eye of Shechem, who raped her. How many Christians put themselves in the same situation? Too many people who claim to be Christians yoke themselves with non-Christians, join in parties, then find themselves in trouble. Is there any wonder why there are so many unwed mothers, or worse, so many abortions?

Dinah’s story is a sad one. Shechem lusted for her, but he surely didn’t love her. Had he taken Dinah as his wife, would he have rejected her when another woman evoked lust in his heart? We’ll never know the “what if” scenario because Dinah’s brothers conspired to kill the Canaanites. They used the covenant of circumcision to weaken the men of the city and then used that time of weakness to attack and kill them.

The rape was wrong, but using God’s covenant for revenge is not acceptable. They did rescue Dinah but at the cost of human life. God warned Jacob to leave and take his family to Bethel. When Jacob told his household that they were leaving, he had good advice:

Then Jacob said unto his household, and to all that were with him, Put away the strange gods that are among you, and be clean, and change your garments (Genesis 35:2).

We all struggle with serving strange gods, which are anything that we put ahead of God Almighty. Dinah put her curiosity of the pagan culture ahead of God. Had she stayed with her family she wouldn’t have been defiled. This truth is as true today as it was in ancient times. If you become curious about the pagan ways around you, you can easily be pulled into sin.

Whenever I read about a young woman who has been raped, my heart breaks; but when I read that she had been to a party where drugs and alcohol were being consumed, I understand that she made a bad choice and allowed herself to be put into the situation. The man is certainly in the wrong, but the woman needs to bear some responsibility.

The next person we can learn from is Bathsheba. She was a beautiful woman who was married to Uriah, a loyal soldier in King David’s army. Uriah was away at war and Bathsheba was alone. Was she lonely? We aren’t told, but one night when she took a bath she chose to bathe on her roof. In Israel the roof was used in much the same way we use a front yard or a patio. It was a public place, and anyone could look at activity taking place. Her neighbor, King David, had a lot on his mind and was on his own roof pacing as he considered the matters of his nation.

And it came to pass in an eveningtide, that David arose from off his bed, and walked upon the roof of the king’s house: and from the roof he saw a woman washing herself; and the woman was very beautiful to look upon (2 Samuel 11:2).

Was this Bathsheba’s intention? She went to a lot of trouble to get the water for a bath up to the roof. David was taken by her beauty and sent for her. The king called and she went to him. She became pregnant. That sin snowballed into more sin. Uriah, who was loyal to David, was eventually put in a place where he would be killed. This allowed David to take Bathsheba as just one more wife, even though the Law forbade kings to have multiple wives.

Neither shall he multiply wives to himself, that his heart turn not away…” (Deuteronomy 17:17a). 

Bathsheba was beautiful, but she was just one of many wives. Today we see similar circumstances. Many women willingly make a public display of their bodies with no regard as to the consequences.

Hollywood starlets make it known that powerful men had inappropriate encounters with them or touched them in an inappropriate manner, but they have no qualms about meeting the man in his hotel room. There is little modesty as their necklines plunge and their swimsuits leave nothing to the imagination. No man should ever take advantage of a woman, but on the other hand, why do women compromise themselves by looking and acting like harlots.

This way of life isn’t limited to Hollywood. Remember the romp that Monica Lewinsky had with Bill Clinton in the White House? It was a disgusting display of sin, but she certainly seemed to be a willing participant. King David didn’t rape Bathsheba, but there was definitely an abuse of power. However, the abuse was encouraged by Bathsheba.

Things become complicated when pointing fingers, blaming this one and that one for wrongdoing. The way to avoid becoming a statistic is to be sure that you don’t do anything that puts you in a compromising situation. This isn’t to excuse David or any man who has sexual relations with anyone who isn’t his own wife. God honors marriage, and both David and Bathsheba sinned.

Does a woman have to compromise? No. If you have to compromise morality in order to get a job, then you don’t need the job.

One of the most mistreated people in history was Vashti. She was married to King Ahasuerus of Persia. He was a very egotistical man who had no regard for his wife. This disregard was evident when he had a huge banquet for various powerful men.

On the seventh day, when the heart of the king was merry with wine, he commanded Mehuman, Biztha, Harbona, Bigtha, and Abagtha, Zethar, and Carcas, the seven chamberlains that served in the presence of Ahasuerus the king, to bring Vashti the queen before the king with the crown royal, to shew the people and the princes her beauty: for she was fair to look on (Esther 1:10-11).

Seven men were sent to bring one woman to this banquet in order to parade her before the drunken guests. Vashti had no intention of parading herself in front of these men, but refusing the king could bring bad consequences.

But the queen Vashti refused to come at the king’s commandment by his chamberlains: therefore was the king very wroth, and his anger burned in him (Esther 1:12).

Ahasuerus was angry and asked the party guests what should be done to Vashti because she refused to degrade herself in front of them. Their concern wasn’t for the welfare of Vashti, or women in general, but they were concerned that her rebellion would cause their own wives to do the same.

For this deed of the queen shall come abroad unto all women, so that they shall despise their husbands in their eyes, when it shall be reported, The king Ahasuerus commanded Vashti the queen to be brought in before him, but she came not (Esther 1:17). 

What egotistical buffoons. Vashti had self-respect, and no matter what it cost her, she wouldn’t be the punch line of a joke. The result of her decision to not be displayed before the men was that she no longer was queen. It would be refreshing if there were more women who had self-respect and said no rather than being made out to be a bimbo.

Today we see accusations flying right and left regarding sexual harassment. If these people are guilty they need to be prosecuted, convicted, and severely punished. Mostly it’s men who are being accused of misconduct towards women, but the problem is much deeper. Homosexual behavior is becoming more aggressive; and worst of all is pedophilia, which is so rampant.

Where are the parents?

Christians need to turn to God’s word for guidance as to how we conduct our lives. If Dinah, Bathsheba, and David had followed Godly standards, then there would have been no compromise. Shechem didn’t have the moral guidance of God, but rape isn’t acceptable even for pagans. Ahasuerus and his buddies were disgusting, and only Vashti did the right thing in spite of the cost to herself.

Everyone makes choices about the way we dress, the company we keep, and how we react to situations. Men and women need to stop following Satan’s ways and live a modest life.

But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death (James 1:14-15).

Don’t be a temptation to others and don’t allow yourself to be drawn into temptation. We cannot control others but we can take every temptation that comes our way to God.

If every Christian would walk on the straight and narrow path, we could make a huge difference.

This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh (Galatians 5:16).

Be careful how you behave, what you hear, and what you see. This world is under the influence of Satan, but Christians are not of this world. We need to walk in the Spirit and not take part in the pagan world around us.

God bless you all,

Nathele Graham

twotug@embarqmail.com

www.straitandnarrowministry.com

ron@straitandnarrowministry.com

Ron and Nathele Graham’s previous commentaries archived at http://www.raptureready.com/featured/graham/graham.html

All original scripture is “theopneustos,” God breathed.

If you’d like to be on my mailing list to receive the commentaries, just drop me an email and let me know.