You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and the fourth generation of those who reject me, but showing steadfast love to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments.
When we look at the actual Hebrew text, we see that this prohibition is actually speaking to not just a physical attachment to an idol, but also an emotional one. The idols that the people were tempted to worship were things that gave them a sense of security. That’s what idolatry in the Bible was really about, these idols represented gods that the people were tempted to trust in more than they trusted in the Lord God. I think for us when we look at this concept of idolatry, we have to ask ourselves what are those things in our lives where we are tempted to find our security in.
God is our security and our hope, not our jobs, our bank account, our status, our jobs, our homes, our whatever. The people worshiped idols not because they believed in them more than they did God, they worshiped them because, if they were being truly honest, they trusted in them more than they trusted in God.
Today, if we are being honest, what is that thing that we trust in more than God. For us, that is the idol that we must be wary of.
When we read about the judgment of God going to generations while God’s mercy goes to many more, I think we need to see that context of the comparison of God’s grace to our frailty. As parents, the way that we live our lives is going to shape the generations to come. My life will affect my children and through that my grandchildren. The sins I commit, my struggles, they will be passed do. I do not believe that God will judge my children (or grandchildren) for my sin, but if because of my actions my children are lead into sin, while their actions are their own, my influence has helped cause that. My actions will affect generations yet born. That is what this text is trying to tell us, our actions have affects untold.
Yet as great as that is, God’s grace is greater. Grace always triumphs is always greater than sin. Always. God’s mercy is greater than all our sins, as the old hymn says. So, even if my actions have a negative effect upon my children and grandchildren, God’s grace always offers the chance of redemption, no matter how great the sin. Grace is always great.
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