Foreign Gods

The people of Israel again did what was evil in the sight of the LORD and served the Baals and the Ashtaroth, the gods of Syria, the gods of Sidon, the gods of Moab, the gods of the Ammonites, and the gods of the Philistines. And they forsook the LORD and did not serve him.

Judges 10:6

As I read through Joshua and now Judges, I can’t ignore the similarities between ancient Israel and the Christian church of today. Despite repeated promises and emotional swearing of fealty prompted by displays of glory or power, the Nation also repeatedly forgot the Lord.

In Numbers and Deuteronomy, God commanded Israel to drive out all the people in the Land He would give them. However, He also let them know they would fail to do it and that the gods of those nations would become a snare to them.

Then in Joshua, we read here and there of groups of people Israel didn’t quite dislodge. The idea behind today’s verse from Judges 10 is repeated multiple times throughout this book. Basically, the people turned from serving the Lord to serving the gods of the people they had failed to drive out of their land.

Of course, we don’t serve those gods today. We’re far more advanced.

Today, we serve the gods of career and of Netflix, the gods of entertainment and of comfort, and the gods of the people around us – the gods of culturally-defined morality and worldly sexual ethics which have nothing to do with the Lord. Today, we serve the bloated and demanding god of self most of all.

Even the church, though she bears the name of Christ in her Christianity, serves these gods. As Christians, we fail to drive the world out of our sacred places and so we let the world’s gods take over.

We’re afraid to stand out, so we don’t. We don’t really believe that a focus on Scripture alone is enough, so we add entertainment. I have to wonder if those ancient Caananite gods were more entertaining than the scrolls of Moses…

Israel was proud of being a free people, set free from bondage to Egypt. Yet they quickly bound themselves up in sin, ignoring the One who set them free for the pop-culture statues and rituals around them.

We say we believe in Jesus and are thankful for what He did for us, dying to save us from sin. Yet we do not behave like thankful people who have been set free. We continue to act like slaves to sin; saying one thing but doing another.

Oh people, we are no different than our ancient fathers.

Lord, forgive us! Lord save us from our weak wills and from our compromises with sin! Turn our hearts fully to You today. May we be repulsed by the very sins we now embrace, ashamed of the things we once did as we choose to obey, to read Your Word and know You more. Help us to walk in Your ways and enjoy the joy of Your presence now and forevermore, amen.

Tuesday Prayer: Victory

But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.

Romans 6:17-18

Mighty Savior, we praise Your holy name for You are good. You are not only Creator of all that is seen and unseen, You are merciful. You’ve shown compassion on us even when we were in rebellion to Your created order and ways.

Though we were Your enemies, You stepped into our midst to live in perfection, to lay down Your life, and to redeem us when there is nothing we could do to extricate ourselves from slavery to sin. Thanks be to God for the victory He has given us in Christ Jesus!

But Lord, we confess that we do not always walk in victory over sin. Sometimes we toy with it as if it is a child’s plaything and not the very gateway to death. Other times, even though You have loosed the chains of sin, we cling to them as if bound and give in to self-loathing rather than fixing our eyes on You and stepping out in the freedom You’ve already given. In many other ways, Lord, we allow ourselves to be entangled by this world instead of caught up in rejoicing and praising You for our salvation.

And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature.

Luke 8:14

Forgive us, we pray, and help us to remember that when it comes to sin, we are more than conquerors through Christ who loves us. Lord, today we cry out passionately and boldly: give your people victory over sin! Whatever has held us back to this point, pry our fingers off it and show us our freedom in Christ. Wherever we have embraced a lie, show us Your Truth and help us to believe it.

For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.

1 John 5:4

Because of what You have done, we are no longer slaves to sin but have become slaves to righteousness. May we truly live this way, walking in the light of Your great love and enjoying daily and hourly victory over whatever sins have harried us throughout our lives.

Whether we’ve struggled under addiction, depression, anxiety, fear, lust, anger, unbelief, or any other thing, show us how to live victoriously over the plague of sin, rejoicing in the Lord who saves us and who is with us always.

Not only for us, Lord, but for our loved ones – please bring victory over sin. For those who are lost and still in captivity, open their eyes to the truth of Christ and set them free as well. May they see us victorious over sin and want to walk in that same victory.

Use us, Lord, to show them Your ways and draw them to our Lord Jesus. We pray to see a mighty work of Your Spirit, shaking the prison and flinging the doors wide so the captives can walk free along with us in genuine, joyful, and breathtaking victory over sin, amen. 

We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin…

So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

Romans 6:6-7, 11