Saturday, December 12, 2015

Rachel's household gods, and worshiping idols

Pixabay, free to use
Worshiping false gods has always been a problem for mankind. God is one, there is but one God. (Isaiah 46:9, 1 Corinthians 8:6). Yet mankind insists on creating idols and gods made of stone and wood, idols which can do nothing. (Isaiah 41:29).

I am reading through Genesis. Because human nature is displayed honestly, there are many parts which sadden me. However, there is one which saddens me more than the others. When Jacob prepared to leave his father-in-law Laban, Rachel stole and hid the household idols to bring with her. The fact that household idols existed in a house of a man and his family who worshiped the one true God is a terrible thing. Had Jacob been lax in his duty to God in leading his family? Had Rachel become so enamored of the false god idols that she could not bear to leave them behind? Apparently so. Worse, when Laban came looking for his idols, knowing they had been stolen, Rachel pretended to be in the throes "of the way of women" so that she would not be asked to rise from her saddle so Laban could check her saddle bags. And of course that is where Rachel had hidden them. Her theft prompted a lie which devolved into a contention between her husband that in order to conclude, required a ritual covenant and witnessing of their relationship not to harm each other again.

Worshiping false gods never, ever leads to a betterment of the human spirit. It always leads to a worsening.

Here is a list of False gods that people in the Old Testament worshiped, sources MacArthur Study Bible and Bible Gateway.

Rachel's household gods. (Genesis 31:19).
The golden calf at Sinai. (Exodus 32)
Nanna, the moon god of Ur, worshiped by Abraham prior to his salvation. (Joshua 24:2)
Asherah or Ashtaroth, the chief goddess of Tyre,referred to as the Lady of the Sea. (Judges 6:24-32).
Dagon, the chief Philistine Agriculture and sea god, father of Baal. (Judges 16:23-30; 1 Samuel 5:1-7).
Ashtoreth, a Canaanite goddess another consort of Baal. (1 Samuel 7:3-4).
Molech, the god of the Ammonites and the most horrible idol in the scriptures. (1 Kings 11:7; 2 Chronicles 28:14; 33:6).
The two golden images made by King Jeroboam, set up at the shrines of Dan and Bethel. (1 Kings 12:28-31).
Baal, the chief deity of Canaan. (1 Kings 18:17-40; 2 Kings 10:28, 11:18).
Rimmon, the Syrian god of Naaman the leper. (2 Kings 5:15-19).
Nisroch, the Assyrian god of Sennacherib. (2 Kings 19:37).
Nebo, the Babylonian god of wisdom and literature. (Isaiah 46:1).
Merodach, also called Marduk, the chief god of the Babylonian pantheon. (Jeremiah 50:2).
Tammuz, the husband and brother of Ishtar (Asherah) goddess of fertility. (Ezekiel 8:14).
The golden image in the plain of Dura. (Daniel 3).
Amon god of Thebes. (Jeremiah 46:25)
Baal-Zebub, a popular deity of the Philistines. (Mt 12:24, Lk 11:15; 2Ki 1:1-6, 16-17)
Chemosh, the chief god of Moab (1 Kings 11:7).

There is another idol that was brought to my mind. Moses was told by God to make the brazen serpent and lift it up, that anyone looking upon it would be saved from death by poisonous snake bite. The pole with the brazen snake was originally a good thing, a true God-given miracle. However, given the nature of humankind to transfer worship from the true God to false idols, by the time we read of Israel's history in 2 Kings 18:4, the Israelites had made an idol of it and burned incense to it. The bronze snake had become an object of idolatrous worship, having transferred their affection from God in heaven to a bronze statue.

We remember the very first idol of all. The root-idol from which all OT idols flow (And NT idols) is self and that self-worship is expressed in pride. Pride- an evil which originated in heaven, and was transferred down to earth by the serpent. (Ezekiel 28:15; Genesis 3:1). Pride is the worship of one's self, one's ways, ideas, decisions. It is reliance on one's self and not upon God. All idols are man-made and therefore all idol worship is really worship of self. (Psalm 115:4).

Pride is defined as "inordinate self-esteem." Yet our esteem should be totally upon God, His Son and His Spirit. What have we to commend ourselves that we should esteem our selves so highly? Sin? Deceit? Perversion? Depravity? That is what is in us, without God. No, these things are not commendable at all, but condemnable.
Pride is viewed as a great evil because it involves pretending to a greatness and glory that belong rightly to God alone. The sinfulness of pride is condemned as evil 1Samuel 15:23; Proverbs 21:4; James 4:16 See also Mark 7:22-23; Romans 1:29-30; 2 Corinthians 12:20; 2 Timothy 3:1-2; 1 John 2:16. Manser, M. H. (2009). Dictionary of Bible Themes
One day our Holy God will destroy all idols and false gods!

And on that day, declares the LORD of hosts, I will cut off the names of the idols from the land, so that they shall be remembered no more. And also I will remove from the land the prophets and the spirit of uncleanness. (Zechariah 13:2).

and I will cut off your carved images and your pillars from among you, and you shall bow down no more to the work of your hands; (Micah 5:13).

The LORD will be awesome against them; for he will famish all the gods of the earth, and to him shall bow down, each in its place, all the lands of the nations. (Zephaniah 2:11)

And in the time of the end of the end, when all the world is folded under the umbrella of one religion, worshiping the final false god through the whore of Babylon, God will destroy it.

For this reason her plagues will come in a single day, death and mourning and famine, and she will be burned up with fire; for mighty is the Lord God who has judged her. (Revelation 18:8)

We are grateful for His deliverance to us His Son, the means by which we can and do believe which is the Spirit, and for the Father who is sovereign over all. We worship the one true God. May it never be so that we transfer our faith in Him even an inch, not even for an hour, to any man-made idol. Worshiping Him in righteousness is so much sweeter than tasting our own pride, depravity, and sin, which is always bitter. The sweetness of belief in God is unimaginably wonderful. Not that it's easy, But trusting in and worshiping our One True God is sweet, because it is life itself!

Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. (John 20:30-31).



4 comments :

  1. I had heard that the household idols may have played some role in inheritance, and that this could have been Rachel's motive for grabbing them. Do you find anything to confirm that?

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    1. Bob Deffinbaugh at Bible.rg says

      What Jacob did not know was that Rachel had stolen Laban’s gods just before they departed. Many speculations are made concerning Rachel’s motives, but the reason best supported by the text and by archaeology is that Rachel stole the household gods in order to establish a future claim on Laban’s family inheritance. The household gods were a token of rightful claim to the possessions and the headship of the family

      and he cites three sources but they are historical, extra-biblical so we can't know for sure. Even if that was one of the reasons, it bespeaks worse of Rachel because she was relying on the token of an idol for her provision rather than the God who grew their wealth from nothing to many herds over 20 years. We do know that Rachel's theft of them caused a near judicial rift in the family. In Gen 35 Jacob condemned household gods.

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  2. Here is another timely example of idolatry.
    Jeremiah 10 Hear ye the word which the Lord speaketh unto you, O house of Israel:

    2 Thus saith the Lord, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them.

    3 For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe.

    4 They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not.

    5 They are upright as the palm tree, but speak not: they must needs be borne, because they cannot go. Be not afraid of them; for they cannot do evil, neither also is it in them to do good.

    6 Forasmuch as there is none like unto thee, O Lord; thou art great, and thy name is great in might.

    The question is who do you think the Lord is speaking to when giving instruction?

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  3. Hi Jeff,

    Jeremiah 10 is often used to attempt to "prove" that Christians should not have a Christmas tree. However it is not a proof text for the practice. I don't know if that is the reason you posted these "timely" verses, but rest assured that if a Christian wants to decorate a tree at Christmas time, it is not a pagan practice nor is it idolatrous. If they choose not to have a tree, that is OK too. Because it is a matter of Christian liberty, it is not an issue over which Christians should divide, other than to point out correct use and misuse of Bible verses.

    Here are some essays covering the topic of Jeremiah 10 and Christmas trees:

    Should Christians have Christmas trees?
    https://www.gty.org/resources/questions/QA073

    Jeremiah 10 and Christmas trees
    https://www.gci.org/christmas/trees

    "Should we have a Christmas Tree? Does the Christmas Tree have its origin in ancient pagan rituals?"
    http://www.gotquestions.org/Christmas-tree.html

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