01Jul21 - Preacher Diary
58 For they provoked him with their high places, and moved him to jealousy with their graven images [idolatry].
59 When God heard this [whoever took their case and accused them before His courts, like Sodom and like Job], he was wrath, and greatly abhorred Israel:
60 So that he forsook the tabernacle of Shiloh, the tent which he placed among men;
62 He gave his people over also unto the sword; and was wrath with his inheritance.
63 The fire consumed their young men; and their maidens were not given to marriage.
64 Their priests fell by the sword; and their widows made no lamentation.
65 Then the LORD awaked as one out of sleep, and like a mighty man that shouteth by reason of wine.
66 And he smote his enemies in the hinder parts: he put them to a perpetual reproach.
When sons die and daughters are not married early; when the sword slays premature and even priests themselves are helpless against the scourge, then the idolatry of the fathers may be taking its toll.
Satanic altars in a land that God has kept apart for Himself, can move Him to severe anger. To seek to replace the Lord with inferior things like graven images, does provoke His jealousy. What follows such idolatry is His anger and His rejection of such a people.
Does God appear to have forsaken your land? Does He seem so far away? Does there appear around you the signs of His displeasure in spite of your many efforts? Then, maybe some idol has come in somewhere; a graven image or a printed image (such as money) or a fabricated image (perhaps a car) or even a breathing image (such as a spouse).
Should high places be raised to such images rather than to Him? Does His tabernacle now seem forsaken? Does worship there seem dry and ceremonial? Does a sword seem to hang over the people, and there are painful deaths of young and active men and women who die early, mysteriously, unexpectedly? It might be necessary to look back into the idolatry of the fathers.
The Lord has not completely forsaken. He can still be awakened to rescue His own from the oppression of the enemy (vv-65-66). He will firstly deal with the root - the enemy, whose reception by His people was their rejection of their God. To accept an idol is to reject the Lord. To build an altar or a high place to Satan is to say clearly, "Satan, we welcome you here. God, you are no longer in charge here." What follows would usually be the strange death of sons, the curse of unmarrying daughters, the unmourned death of priests, and castrated ministers who, early in the day, have lost their power, like Samson who was sunset at noon. When God departs, the enemy enters.
When does God step in to reverse such evils? "When he slew them, Then they sought him: and they RETURNED and enquired early after God" (v34). When sons die and daughters are not married, the idolatry of the fathers may be speaking. When priests also die strangely and can help neither themselves nor others; when women start to get so used to such miseries that widows can't cry anymore, it is a sign that the enemy has come in through the backslidings of God’s people. It is time to seek and return to God.
Does God have to resort to such extreme measures to draw attention to a people’s terrible spiritual hazards? Let us try our ways and return unto the Lord, "for he will abundantly pardon" – even our idolatries (Isaiah 55:7). Amen.
O Lord, now, awake out of Thy sleep and like a mighty man that shouteth by reason of wine, smite thine enemies in the hinder parts. Put them to a perpetual reproach. Amen.
From The Preacher's diary,
May 21, 1992.
First published February 1998.
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