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And the man cried out against the altar by the word of the Lord and said, “O altar, altar, thus says the Lord: ‘Behold, a son shall be born to the house of David, Josiah by name, and shall sacrifice on you the priests of the high places who make offerings on you, and human bones shall be burned on you.” 1 kings 13:2
This was a word of prophecy concerning a king who was going to be born in Israel, whom God would use to destroy the altars of idols that Israel had set in place of God’s altar.
300 years later, Josiah was born; he became king at 8 years old. He did according to the word of the Lord and destroyed all the altars of idolatry that the Israelites had set. He also made sure to defile those altars to prevent them from being raised up again. Josiah did what God had intended for him to do before he was born. Instead of bowing down to the idols of his fathers, he destroyed them. 2 Kings 23:1-25
We are called not to bow down to modern-day idols but to destroy them. We are chosen to take out altars that are raised up by this generation. Today, instead of removing those idols we have made the idols of this day our idols. We have picked up what God has purposely sent us to destroy and have placed them before God.
Before we can destroy the idols that are taking the place of God in our world today we have to make sure that we aren’t worshipping them ourselves.
It’s easy to read about Israel in the Old Testament and tell ourselves we are not idolaters because we don’t fashion idols out of metals. However, an idol can be anything that takes the place due to God in our hearts. It can be anything we believe we cannot do without. Anything that we run to, to replace our need and dependence on God can be an idol in our lives.
John exhorts us, little children, keep yourselves from idols (false gods)- (from anything and everything that would occupy the place of God in your heart due to God, from any sort of substitute for Him that would take first place in your life). 1 John5:21 AMPC
Let us look at a few things that could be idols today:
God has made this world beautiful. He has especially made women to enjoy beauty. We get to enjoy seeing God’s beauty in and through ourselves. However, today it seems that we have exalted outward beauty above character, purity, above a heart that worships God. We don’t have to look far to see this idol. We spend hours and hours making ourselves pretty so we can take pictures for the world to see and appreciate.
There is nothing wrong with this but now we have a generation that is so given to vanity that they would do anything to look and be beautiful. Women are taking toxic chemicals in the name of beauty. They are changing the color of their skin in the name of beauty. They are paying millions to change their physical appearance in the name of beauty. We have turned beauty into a billion-dollar economy.
When we place more value on how we look than on who created us, we have made for ourselves a modern-day idol.
Don’t be concerned about outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God. 1 Peter 3:3-4 NLT
When our identity is placed in the one who created us rather than how we look we can enjoy beauty and bring glory to God through it instead of worshipping it.
We can’t imagine a world without Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram and Youtube. We can’t imagine a time when we couldn’t mindlessly scroll through the internet for hours and hours. Social media has become a huge part of our lives and with this idolatry has crept in. Anything that we cannot do without is an idol. We now have a generation that has forgotten to be present in life’s moments because they are always glued to their screens.
In 2016, my smartphone crashed, I didn’t have a job in this season to get a new one, so I was using an old phone that had no internet. It was such an adjustment. Prior to my phone dying, God had specifically asked me to log out of Facebook for a while in order to spend more time in His word and prayer. I refused. Well when my phone crashed, I now had no choice but to get off social media like He had asked me to. For about six months, I was off social media, and I now had ample time to study my bible and pray. My family would try to buy me a phone but I knew God didn’t want me to get another smartphone for a while. In this season, God broke my attachment to social media. To this day, I can log off the internet for weeks and months, years if necessary to use that time for other things.
It’s not that we don’t have time, it’s just that we have given our time to things that don’t matter. We have made ourselves slaves to social media. If we would use that time wisely we would see a huge difference in our lives.
God has to wrestle with us to put down our idol of social media. Our relationship with God would grow if we would get off social media. Our discontentment, discouragement, self-hate, and comparison would fall off our lives if we would get off social media. Our lives would be fuller if we would take time to be present in the moments we are in, rather than worry about who we will see it.
Another thing that has changed our world is entertainment. There is so much entertainment coming our way we don’t even know what to do with it.
Entertainment is a subtle idol. It’s the idol that the enemy places before us to distract us. We are distracted from our problems. We are distracted from the world around us. We are distracted from our purpose and assignments from God. We are distracted from God and the worship of God. We have time to watch a movie or series for four hours but we don’t have time to pray. We have time to be entertained for a whole weekend but we don’t have time to study the word of God. On Judgment day, some of us will be condemned by our entertainment. Our entertainment will tell God what our priorities are.
We cannot do what matters if we are giving all our time to entertainment. I’m not saying we don’t watch a good movie once in a while. But we have to be careful that those things don’t replace our need and dependence on God or our time with God.
Pulpits and Platforms
This an idol in the church. It is strange how many people think they need to be on a pulpit or platform to serve God. We have elevated the service that is seen rather than the service that is done for the Lord. Everyone wants to lead worship, everyone wants to preach. It doesn’t matter if God has purposely placed us on those platforms or not. We get saved today, tomorrow we are on the altar singing or preaching. Sis, the best service you will ever do for God is the one that only you and God see. Our public ministry has to overflow from our private ministry to God.
When God puts us on platforms there is a higher standard because we have to bear the weight of that responsibility in private, most people cannot bear this weight. You are also exposed to a different kind of spiritual warfare because you are on a platform; most of us aren’t prepared for this.
We are quick to take microphones before we have been sanctified and transformed in private by God. We end up bringing people gifts that have no ability to help or transform them because we haven’t encountered God for ourselves first. Just because you can sing doesn’t mean you need to be on a pulpit. Just because you can talk doesn’t mean you should be up on a platform.
Some of us need to step off platforms that men have given to us because we need to seek God in private first. Some of us need to come off platforms because we have placed more value on being on them rather than pleasing God with our lives. Some of us need to lay down this idol until we no longer need to be on platforms or stake our identity on those platforms.
God is looking for Josiahs but we have to be purified of our idols if we are going to smash and destroy the idols and altars that this world has elevated above God.
We cannot direct people to a God we are not worshipping wholeheartedly. We cannot bring righteous judgment on idols that we are bowing to privately. God is able to purify us if we will bring Him our hearts to purge and cleanse of idolatry. He will make us vessels He can use to lead others to Himself.
He has promised us, I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols. I will cleanse you. And I will give you a new heart and a new spirit will I put within you. Ezekiel 36:25-26