February 28: Neon Gods
Leviticus 26–27; John 10:22–42; Song of Solomon 8:10–14
Idolatry seems archaic. Who worships idols anymore?
We all know that in other countries, traditional idol worship of gold and wooden statues still goes on, but we often forget about our own idols. What does all our furniture point toward? Why do we care who is on the cover of a magazine? How do you feel if you miss your favorite talk show? If we’re really honest, what do we spend the majority of our time thinking about?
Idols are everywhere, and most of us are idol worshipers of some kind. When we put this in perspective, suddenly the words of Lev 26 become relevant again. The problem that is addressed in Leviticus is the same problem we’re dealing with today.
Leviticus 26 and its harsh words against idolatry should prompt each of us to ask, “What are my idols?” and then to answer with, “I will end my idolatry.” And if the temptation is too great with these things present in our lives (like the TV), we should say, “I will exile them from my home and presence.”
It’s not put in these terms often enough, but it should be. The “noise” of idols is keeping us away from God, and even more so, our worship of the noise is doing so. Likewise, our obsession with possessions and celebrities is standing between God and us.
In their song “The Sound of Silence,” Simon and Garfunkel described the same situation in modern culture: “The people bowed and prayed to the neon god they made.”
What neon god are you worshiping? And what are you going to do about it?
JOHN D. BARRY
- Ye shall make you none idols nor graven image, neither rear you up any pillar, neither shall ye set any image of stone in your land to bow down to it: for I am the Lord your God. Ye shall keep my Sabbaths, and reverence my Sanctuary: I am the Lord. If ye walk in mine ordinances, and keep my commandments, and do them, I will then send you rain in due season, and the land shall yield her increase, and the trees of the field shall give their fruit. And your threshing shall reach unto the vintage, and the vintage shall reach unto sowing time, and you shall eat your bread in plenteousness, and dwell in your land safely. and I will send peace in the land, and ye shall sleep, and none shall make you afraid: also I will rid evil beasts out of the land, and the sword shall not go through your land. Also ye shall chase your enemies, and they shall fall before you upon the sword. And five of you shall chase an hundred, and an hundred of you shall put ten thousand to flight, and your enemies shall fall before you upon the sword. For I will have respect unto you, and make you increase, and multiply you, and stablish my covenant with you. Ye shall eat also old store, and carry out old because of the new. And I will set my Tabernacle among you, and my soul shall not loathe you. Also I will walk among you, and I will be your God, and ye shall be my people. I am the Lord your God which have brought you out of the land of Egypt, that ye should not be their bondmen, and I have broken the bonds of your yoke, and made you go upright. But if ye will not obey me, nor do all these commandments, And if ye shall despise mine ordinances, either if your soul abhor my laws, so that ye will not do all my Commandments, but break my Covenant, Then will I also do this unto you, I will appoint over you fearfulness, a consumption, and the burning ague to consume the eyes, and make the heart heavy, and you shall sow your seed in vain: for your enemies shall eta it: And I will set my face against you, and ye shall fall before your enemies, and they that hate you, shall reign over you, and ye shall flee when none pursueth you. And if ye will not for these things obey me, then will I punish you seven times more, according to your sins, And I will break the pride of your power, and I will make your heaven as iron, and your earth as brass: And your strength shall be spent in vain: neither shall your land give her increase, neither shall the trees of the land give their fruit. And if ye walk stubbornly against me, and will not obey me, I will then bring seven times more plagues upon you, according to your sins. I will also send wild beasts upon you, which shall spoil you, and destroy your cattle, and make you few in number: so your highways shall be desolate. Yet if by these ye will not be reformed by me, but walk stubbornly against me, Then will I also walk stubbornly against you, and I will smite you yet seven times for your sins: And I will send a sword upon you, that shall avenge the quarrel of my Covenant: and when ye are gathered in your cities, I will send the pestilence among you, and ye shall be delivered into the hand of the enemy. When I shall break the staff of your bread, then ten women shall bake your bread in one oven, and they shall deliver your bread again by weight, and ye shall eat, but not be satisifed. Yet if ye will not for this obey me, but walk against me stubbornly, Then will I walk stubbornly in mine anger against you, and I will also chastise you seven times more according to your sins. And ye shall eat the lesh of your sons, and the flesh of your daughters shall ye devour. I will also destroy your high places, and cut away your images, and cast your caracasses upon the bodies of your idols, and my soul shall abhor you. And I will make your cities desolate, and bring your Sanctuary unto naught, and willl not smell the savor of your sweet odors. I will also bring the land unto a wilderness, and your enemies which dwell therein, shall be astonished thereat. Also I will scatter you among the heathen, and will draw out a sword after you, and your land shall be waste, and your cities shall be desolate. Then shall the land enjoy her Sabbaths, as long as it lieth void, and ye shall be in your enemies land, then shall the land rest, and enjoy her Sabbaths. All the days that it lieth void, it shall rest, because it did not rest in your Sabbaths, when ye dwelt upon it. And upon them that are left of you, I will send even a faintness into their hearts in the land of your enemies, and the sound of a leaf shaken shall chase them, and they shall flee as fleeing from a sword, and they shall fall, no an pursuing them. They shall fall also one upon another, as before a sword, though none pursue them, and ye shall not be able to stand before your enemies: And ye shall perish among the heathen, and the land of your enemies shall eat you up. And they that are left of you, shall pine away for their iniquity, in your enemies lands, and for the iniquties of their fathers shall they pine away with them also. Then ethey shall confess their iniquity, and the wicedness of their fathers for their trespass, which they have trespassed against me, and also because they have walked stubbornly against me. Therefore I will walk stubborn against them, and bring them into the land of their enemies: so then their uncircumcised hearts shall be humbled, and then they shall willingly bear the punishment of their iniquity. Then I will remember my Covenant with Jacob, and my Covenant also with Isaac, and also my Covenant with Abraham will I remember, and will remember the land. The land also in the mean season shall be left of them, and shall enjoy her Sabbaths while she lieth waste without them, but they shall willingly suffer the punishment of their iniquity, because they despised my Laws, and because their soul abhorred mine ordinances. Yet notwithstanding this, when they shall be in the land of their enemies, I will not cast them away, neither will I abhor them, to destroy them utterly, nor to break my Covenant with them: for I am the Lord their God: But I will remember for them the covenant of old, when I brought them out of the land of Egypt in the sight of the heathen, that I might be there God: I am the Lord. These are the Ordinances, and the Judgments, and the Laws, which the Lord made between him, and the children of Israel, in mount Sinai by the hand of Moses.Moreover, the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Spea unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, If any man shall ake a vow of a person unto the Lord, by thy estimation, Then thy estimation shall be thus: a male from twenty years old unto sixty years old shall be by thy estimation even fifty shekels of silver, after the shekel of the Sanctuary. But if it be a female, then thy valuation shall be thirty shekels. And from five years old to twenty years old, thy valuation shall be for the male twenty shekels, and for the female ten shekels. But from a month old unto five years old, the price of the male shall be five shekels of silver, and thy price of the female, three shekels of silver. And from sixty years old and above, if he be a male, then thy price shall be fifteen shekels, adn for the female ten shekels. But if he be poorer than thou hast esteemed him, then shall he present himself before the Priest, and the Priest shal value him, according to the ability of him that vowed, so shall the Priest value him. And if it be a beast, whereof men bring an offering unto the Lord, all that one giveth of such unt othe Lord, shal be holy. He shall not alter it nor change it, a good for bad, nor a bad for a good: and if he change beast for beast, then both this and that, which was changed for it, shall be holy. And if it be any unclean beast, of which men do not offer a sacrifice unto the Lord, he shall then present the beast before the Priest. And the Priest shall value it, whether it be good or bad: and as thou valuest it, which art the Priest, so shall it be. But if he will buy it again, then he shall give the fifth part of itmore above thy valuation. Also when a aman shall dedicate his house to be holy unto the Lord, then the Priest shall value it, whether it be good or bad, and as the Priest shall price it, so shall the value be. But if he that sanctified it, will redeem his house, then he shall give thereto the fifth part of money more above thy valuation. Also when a man shall dedicate his house to be holy unto the Lord, the the Priest shall value it, whether it be ood or ba, and as the Priest shall price it, so shall the value be. But if he that sanctified it, will redeem his house, then he shall give thereto the fifth part of money more than thy estimation, and it shall be his. If also a man dedicated to the Lord any ground of his inheritance, then shalt thou esteem it according to the seed thereof, and Homer of barley seed shall be at fifty shekels of silver. If he dedicate his field immediately from the year of Jubilee, it shall be worth as thou dost esteem it. But if he dedicate his field after the Jubilee, then the Priest shall reckon him the money according to the years that remain unto the year of Jubilee, and it shall be abated by thy estimation. And if he that dedicateth it, wil redeem the field, then he shall put the fifth part of the price that thou esteemedst it at, thereunto, and it shall remain his. And if he will not redeem the field, but the Priest sell the field to another man, it shall be redeemed no more. But the field shall be holy to the Lord, wen it goeth out in the Jubilee, as a field separate from common uses: the possession thereof shall be the Priest’s. If a man also dedicate unto the Lord a field which he hath bought, which is not of the ground of his inheritance, Then the Priest shall set the price to him, as thou esteemest it, unto the year of Jubilee, and he shall give thy price the same day, as a thing holy unto the Lord. But in the year of Jubilee, the field shall return unto him, of whom it was bought: to him I say, whose inheritance the land was. And all the valuation shall be according to the shekel of the Sanctuary: a shekel containeth twenty gerahs. Notwithstanding the firstborn of the beasts, because it is the Lord’s firstborn, none shall dedicate such, be it bullock, or sheep: Got it is the Lord’s. But if it be an unclean beast, then he shall redeem it by thy valuation, and give the fifth part more thereto: and if it be not redeemed, then it shall be sold, according to thy estimation. Notwithstanding, nothing separate from the common use that a man doth separate unto the Lord of all that he hath (whether it be man or beast, or land of his inheritance) may be sold nor redeemed: for everything separate from the common use is most holy unto the Lord. nothing separate form the common use, which shall be separate from man, shall be redeemed, but die the death. Also all the tithe of the land bothof the seed of the ground, and of the fruit of the trees is the Lord’s: it is holy to the Lord. But if a man will redeem any of his tithe, he shall add the fifth part thereto. And every tithe of bullock, and of sheep, and of all that goeth under the rod, the tenth shal be holy unto the Lord. He shall not look if it be good or bad, neither shall he change it: else if he change it, both it, and that it was changed withal, shall be holy, and it shall not be redeemed. These are the Commandments which the Lord commanded by Moses unto the children of Israel in Mount Sinai. Leviticus 26–27
- And it was at Jerusalem the feast of the Dedication, and it was winter. And Jesus walked in the Temple, in Solomon’s porch. Then came the Jews round about him, and said unto him, How long dost thou make us to doubt? If tou be that Christ, tell us plainly. Jesus answered them, I told you, and ye believe not: the works that I o nin my Father’s Name, they bear witness of me. But ye believe not: for ye ar not of my sheep, as I said unto you. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me, And I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish, neither shall any pluck them out of mine hand. My Father which gave them me, is greater than all, and none is able to take them out of my Father’s hand. I and my Father are one. Then the Jews again took up stones, to stone him. Jesus answered them, Many good works have I showed you from my Father: for which of these works do ye stone me? The Jews answered him, saying, For the good work we stone thee not, but for blasphemy, and that thou being a man, makest thyself God. Jesus answered them, Is it not writteni n your Law, I said, Ye are gods? If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God was given, and the Scripture cannot be broken, Say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, thou blasphemest, because I said, I am the Son of God? If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not. But if I do, then though ye believe not me, yet believe the works, that ye may know and believe, that the Father is in me, and I in him. Again they went about to take him: but he escaped out of their hands, And went again beyond Jordan, into the place where John first baptized, and there abode. And many resorted unto him, and said, John did no miracle: but all things that John spake of this man, were true. And many believed in him there. John 10:22–42
- I am a wall, we will build upon her a silver palace: and if she be a door, we will keep her in with boards of cedar. I am a wall, and my breasts are as towers: then was I in his eyes as one that findeth peace. Solomon had a vine in Baal Hamon: he gave the vineyard unto keepers: everyone bringeth for the fruit thereof a thousand pieces of silver. But my vineyard which is mine is before me: to thee, O Solomon, appertaineth a thousand pieces of silver, and two hundred to them that keep the fruit thereof. O thou that dwellest in the gardens, the companions hearken unto thy voice: cause me to hear it. O my well-beloved, flee away and be like unto the roe, or to the young hart upon the mountains of spices. Song of Solomon 8:10–14