Deuteronomy 11:7-18 "But your eyes have seen all the great acts of Jehovah which He did.
Therefore you shall keep all the commandments which I command you today, so that you may be strong and go in and possess the land where you go to possess it, and so that you may make your days longer in the land which Jehovah swore to your fathers to give to them and to their seed, a land that flows with milk and honey.
For the land into which you go to possess it, is not as the land of Egypt from which you came out, where you sowed your seed and watered it with your foot, like a garden of herbs.
But the land which you are entering to possess it is a land of hills and valleys, drinking water from the rain of the heavens.
It is a land which Jehovah your God cares for. The eyes of Jehovah your God are always upon it, from the beginning of the year even to the end of the year.
And it will be, if you will listen carefully to My commandments which I command you today, to love Jehovah your God and to serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul, I will give the rain of your land in its due season, the first rain and the latter rain, that you may gather in your grain and your wine and your oil.
And I will send grass in your fields for your cattle so that you may eat and be full.
Take heed to yourselves that your heart may not be deceived, and you turn aside and serve other gods, and worship them, and Jehovah's wrath be kindled against you, and He shut up the heavens so that there will be no rain, and so that the land will not yield her fruit, and you perish quickly from off the good land which Jehovah gives you.
Therefore you shall lay up these my words in your hearts and in your souls, and bind them for a sign upon your hand, so that they may be as frontlets between your eyes."
The land of Egypt was flat and had little rain. It took a great deal of skill and work to grow crops for the population's food because their water came from the flooding of the Nile River once a year. The Egyptians therefore assumed that it was by their own hard work and skill that brought them their success. But God was giving the Jews a new land called Canaan.
"The land of Canaan was an uneven country, a land of hills and valleys, which not only gave a more pleasing prospect to the eye, but yielded a greater variety of soils for the several purposes of the (farmer). It was a land that had no great rivers in it, except (the) Jordan (River), but drank water of the rain of heaven, and so, saved them a great deal of labour. While the Egyptians were ditching and guttering in the fields, up to the knees in mud, to bring water to their land, which otherwise would soon become like the heath in the wilderness, the Israelites could sit in their houses, warm and easy, and leave it to God to water their land with the former and the latter rain, which is called the river of God... So he directed them to look upwards to God, who giveth us rain from heaven and fruitful seasons." -Matthew Henry's Commentary
Psalm 65:9-13 You visit the earth and water it; You greatly enrich it; the river of God is full of water; You provide their grain, for in this way You have prepared it.
You fill its terraces with water; You deepen its furrows; You make it soft with showers; You bless the sprouting of it.
You crown the year with Your goodness, and Your paths drop fatness.
They drop on the pastures of the wilderness; and the little hills gird themselves with joy.
The pastures are clothed with flocks; the valleys also are covered over with grain; they shout for joy and sing.
God promises the Hebrews (Israelites, Jews, descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob) a bountiful, rich prosperous land if they will worship Him and obey His commands. But He also warns them not to turn away from Him to worship other things. These "gods" (little "g" as they are not really God) take the form of many things. Suffice it to say, whatever you waste your time, energy, money and emotional energy on...is a god. If you are sacrificing time and energy, spending money and it takes up all your thoughts...it is an act of worship to whatever it is. If it comes before God, it is an idol. Do you spend all your time worrying over how you look? Spend all your money on clothes, makeup, plastic surgery, gym memberships, etc? Do you spend so much energy working out that you can't spend time with God or your family? Do you cry and moan because you aren't pretty enough or your boobs aren't big enough? Or do you think you are so wonderful and gorgeous that no one is good enough for you? You may have made an idol of YOURSELF! I watch some shows where women whimper, whine and cry because they are too "fat" and yet they are horribly disfigured by anorexia. They have made their bodies a god and they are totally consumed by themselves and how they look. Even though they "hate" themselves or their appearance, it's idolatry because it's consuming all their time, energy, money and thought life. They can think of nothing but themselves. The same with those who get hooked on plastic surgery. Their appearance means everything to them and they have made themselves into little plastic idols (pun intended). Satan can deceive us! We look in the mirror and think we look awful (or wonderful), when, in reality, others see the real us. It's because satan twists our minds. What is pretty has become ugly and what is ugly has become pretty!
How about those who sacrifice all to their addiction? Alcohol, porn, drugs, gambling, gluttony, shopping, hoarding ... anything that totally consumes someone and takes over their life, is an idol. Seen Intervention? It's an uncomfortable, frightening view of those consumed with their addiction. I've watched the TV show Hoarders and seen how satan has these people so tied up and decieved that they can't even get rid of a bag of trash! These people are in bondage and serve an idol. They are literally slaves to their addiction. They become so self centered and self involved that there is nothing left for anybody else. It's all about them. They may whine and cry and sob and whimper but they don't really have any intention of changing, or they think they can't change. They feel sorry for themselves.
Or, the opposite, are those who boast and swagger and keep their eye on themselves in the mirror. "There is only so much of me to go around, baby!" They keep tallies of all the men or women they've slept with and boast about it. They feel they are so stupendous and handsome/beautiful that whoever is with them is a very lucky person. If they smile at someone, that person should swoon. "I am the master of the universe and everyone should serve me and be happy about it." As in Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe...it will all come tumbling down one day.
Whether miserable or prideful, one way or the other, everyone around them was made to serve them. Or so they think. And they become master manipulators to force their families and friends to become co-dependent and serve the same god they serve. They intend to draw you down with them into that bondage. Soon, you are paying their bills, giving them free room & board, getting them out of jail, paying their child support or raising their children, lying to the bill collectors, etc. You don't want to and you do it kicking and screaming but you end up serving their idol with them.
To go back to our Bible passage, God warns us very specifically not to turn to idolatry. Not only here, but all through the Bible, God warns us. It's not because He needs us to worship Him. Face it, He's God and all creation worships Him, He doesn't need us. But He created us and He loves us and He knows how easily we fall into bondage. And He knows how miserable and helpless we are when we are so totally decieved and tied up in sin and idolatry. It makes life on earth hell and it sends us to eternal hell when we die. The only way to freedom is to keep our eyes on God and worship Him alone. To obey Him by accepting Jesus as His Son and trusting that Jesus paid the price for our sins so we could be set free.
Is God not enough? Is He not capable of taking care of us? Does He not provide mercy and blessing every day? Did He not send His Son to die for us? What else do we expect from Him? Doesn't He keep the world turning, the oxygen free, the rain falling, the sun shining despite our sins? How many times has he saved you that you don't even know about? Despite being spit upon in American society today...our country is still prosperous and safe and it's not because of Barack Obama, George W. Bush or Bill Clinton, our military or our intelligence...it's because of God's grace. All it would take is a simple meteor from heaven and life on this planet would be kaput. And, quite simply, we deserve a punishment like that. But God has a desire for us and a love for us and He is being ever so patient.
With these thoughts in mind, let us turn to the new year, 2010. "Behold, I set before you today a blessing and a curse".
Deuteronomy 11:19-28 "And you shall teach them to your sons, speaking of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.
And you shall write them upon the door posts of your house, and upon your gates,
so that your days and the days of your sons may be multiplied in the land which Jehovah swore to give to your fathers, like the days of the heavens upon the earth.
For if you will carefully keep all these commandments which I command you, to do them, to love Jehovah your God, to walk in all His ways, and to hold fast to Him, Jehovah will drive out all these nations from before you, and you shall possess greater and mightier nations than you.
Every place on which the soles of your feet shall tread shall be yours, from the wilderness and Lebanon, from the river, the river Euphrates, even to the furthest sea shall your border be.
There shall no man stand before you, for Jehovah your God shall lay the fear of you and the dread of you upon the face of all the land that you shall tread upon, as He has said to you.
Behold, I set before you today a blessing and a curse:
A blessing if you obey the commandments of Jehovah your God which I command you today, and a curse if you will not obey the commandments of Jehovah your God, but will turn aside out of the way which I command you today, to go after other gods which you have not known."
The choice is ours. I'm not saying if we worship and obey God, life will be rosy and wonderful. I am saying that if we worship and obey God, He will be with us through bad times and can use all things for our good. Hard times are a given in this life, but with God hard times can still be fruitful and have a silver lining. Without God, hard times will be barren and desolate, with nothing good coming out of it.
It is my New Year's Resolution to try and worship and obey God. As a human being I won't be perfect and will fall but, with the Holy Spirit's help, I will be trying my best to worship God and God alone and living the simple and good life as He directs. I want Him to be the God of my life and no other gods before Him.