February 6, 2014

Hiding behind an idol?

Those whose lives are governed by something other than the Lord God are not only guilty of idolatry but assume that because their gods actually cannot see their sin, then God doesn’t see or care. Besides the desire to hide, idol worship and sin have a way of making it someone elses fault. It started with Adam and Eve. After they ate the forbidden fruit in Eden, God encountered them . . .

And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” (Genesis 3:8–13)

Disobeying God somehow makes people blind to the fact that God sees and knows everything. These two hid as if He could not see them, but of course He could.

Later, Isaiah spoke of this tendency of sinners to try and hide: “Ah, you who hide deep from the Lord your counsel, whose deeds are in the dark, and who say, “Who sees us? Who knows us?” (Isaiah 29:15)

A man named Achan did the same thing. He’d taken spoils of war that God had forbidden His people from taking, then he hid the items in his tent. Right away, the power of God left and their next battle was lost. The leader, Joshua, asked God what went wrong and was told, “Israel has sinned; they have transgressed my covenant that I commanded them; they have taken some of the devoted things; they have stolen and lied and put them among their own belongings.” (Joshua 7:11)

Then Joshua said to Achan, “My son, give glory to the Lord God of Israel and give praise to him. And tell me now what you have done; do not hide it from me.” And Achan answered Joshua, “Truly I have sinned against the Lord God of Israel, and this is what I did . . .”  (Joshua 7:19–20)

So much for hiding sin from God. Even though Achan was confronted about it and admitted what he had done, he paid the ultimate price.

Sin produced a run-and-hide attitude in Jonah too. When he was commanded to preach to Nineveh, he didn’t want to and ran the other way. God convinced him that he could not hide, so he reluctantly obeyed, but he really didn’t want God to bless those people. He “went out of the city and sat to the east of the city and made a booth for himself there. He sat under it in the shade, till he should see what would become of the city.” (Jonah 4:5) Then, when the people repented because of his preaching, he was more concerned about a shade plant than he was about these whose lives had been changed. Jonah’s idol was himself and when he could not hide from God, he blamed God for his misery.

As John Calvin said, the human heart is an idol-making factory. I’d say that my old sinful nature is also wired to hide from God and shift the blame for sin to some other sources. I’ve even blamed my idols for my sin of exalting them above God — rather than taking responsibility for my own actions.

What continually amazes me and continually brings me out of those hiding places and back to reality is that Jesus Christ died for me before I was even born! He loves me and forgives all my sin. He also now lives to intercede for me and has the astonishing goal to transform my life. Whenever I hide, blame others for my problems, or let an idol be my focus, I may delay the process but He is relentless. He refuses to leave me as I am, nor will He allow me follow and become like any worthless idol. Instead, He promises to change me, make me like Himself, so I can reflect His image in joyful obedience.

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