I’ve been thinking this week about idols — not because this is a topic that typically occupies my mind (although maybe it should) — but because my sermon for this Sunday comes from the book of Hosea (Hosea 1:2-10), which contends that our proclivity to make “things other than God” the objects of our trust and devotion is, in essence, spiritual adultery. Of course, that’s a lesson with which most of us who’ve spent any time in Sunday School are well acquainted. After all, we’re taught from an early age that we don’t have to bow down in front of a statue in order to be guilty of idolatry. And yet, I wonder sometimes if we’re aware of how subtle and pervasive the drift toward idol worship can be.
Therefore, I find it somewhat providential that today’s Old Testament lesson comes from 2 Kings 23:4-25, in which a religious revival takes place under a young king named Josiah. The king’s workers discovered a forgotten “Book of the Covenant” in the Temple, and when it was read to Josiah — and when realized how far his people had drifted from their allegiance to the Lord — he immediately set about restoring the proper worship of Yahweh. At the heart of this restoration was an effort to eliminate all the idols that had cropped up over the years…and what an effort it was! It takes the biblical writer most of a fairly long chapter to describe all the different altars that needed to be torn down and all the different “gods” that needed to be deposed.
It makes me wonder: What idols would God have to tear down in my life (and in your life, and in our lives) in order to make us aware of how things that are “less than God” have come to take the “place of God” in terms of our attention, our effort, and our love? Would God have to burn our cell-phones and destroy our sports leagues? Would He need to throw down our political ideologies and eliminate our retirement accounts? If the Lord sent a new Josiah today — who removed every “object of devotion” that has lured our hearts away from the loyalty and gratitude and worship that belong to God alone — how much of my life (and your life, and our life) would be left?
As my study of Hosea has reminded me this week, we live in hope that not even our failure to love God can ultimately defeat His relentless love for us. As the Apostle Paul puts it: “If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot disown himself.” (2 Timothy 2:13). But may His amazing grace inspire us to do a little “idol eliminating” of our own, so that we can turn to the Lord with all our heart and with all our soul and with all our strength, just like Josiah did (verse 25).