Currently there is only a Sunday worship service at 11:00 and no Wednesday Bible class
The reason is to mitigate the potentional spread of COVID-19
Beginning Sunday, February 7th, two Sunday worship services
and Bible classes on Sunday and Wednesday are scheduled to resume
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Last updated Thu Jan 14 2:09 PM EDT 2021



OceanSide church of Christ

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NO OTHER GODS BEFORE ME

Victor M. Eskew

 

          The “Shema” of the Jews is found in Deuteronomy 6:4-5.  “Hear, O Israel:  The Lord our God is one LORD:  and thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.”  The word “shema” means “hear.”  The Jews took the call to hear these special words very seriously.  They became one of four statements they placed within their phylacteries, the prayer boxes they placed on their wrists and forehead.  This statement was said by the Jews at both morning and evening.  Some have referred to these words as “the creed of the Jews.”

          These words instructed the Jews in two ways.  First, they affirmed that there is one God.  There were not many Gods like the ones the nations worshipped in the Promised Land into which they were soon to enter.  There was only one true and living God.  Second, this God was to have priority within the lives of the Jews.  He was to be loved first and foremost.  He was to be loved with all their being:  their heart, their soul, and their strength.  This was the “first commandment” (Mark 12:29-30).  If obeyed, it would keep the Jews loyal to God and away from polytheism.

          God had addressed this topic in the Ten Commandments.  In fact, the first three commandments exhort the Jews to be loyal only to God the Father.  “And God spake all these words, saying, I am the Lord thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.  Thou shalt have no other gods before me.  Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth:  thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them:  for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; and showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments” (Exo. 20:1-6).

          Sadly, the Jews did not adhere to these words faithfully throughout the ages.  In fact, it was idolatry that ultimately brought God’s wrath upon them.  Because they turned from the one God and began to worship other gods, the nations of Assyria and Babylon fell upon the Jewish nation.  In II Kings 17:6, we read that Hoshea the king of Assyria “took Samaria, and carried Israel away into Assyria…”  The reasons for this captivity are revealed in the remaining portion of that chapter.  “For so it was that the children of Israel had sinned against the Lord their God, which had brought them up out of the land of Egypt, from under the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and had feared other gods…And they set them up images and groves in every high hill, and under every green tree…For they served idols, whereof the Lord had said unto them, Ye shall not do this thing…And they left all the commandments of the Lord their God, and made them molten images, even two calves, and made a grove, and worshiped all the host of heaven, and served Baal” (vs. 7, 10, 12, and 16).

          This action deeply angered God.  He would not tolerate such actions forever.  “Therefore the Lord was very angry with Israel, and removed them out of his sight…And the Lord rejected all the seed of Israel, and afflicted them, and delivered them into the hand of the spoilers, until he had cast them out of his sight.  For he rent Israel from the house of David…” (II Kings 17:18, 20, and 21).  II Kings 25 reveals a similar fate that came upon Judah.

          As we read these words and see the wrath of God poured out upon the Jews, we shake our heads in wonder over the stubbornness and sinfulness of Israel.  We wonder:  How could they do such a thing?  How could they forsake their God?  Why did they turn to other gods?  Why didn’t they just remain faithful to Jehovah?  Perhaps we need to ask ourselves these same questions.  There are ways in which we, too, can practice idolatry.

          First, let’s look at two passages of scripture.  Let’s note first the very last verse of John’s first epistle.  He writes:  “Little children, keep yourselves from idols.  Amen” (I John 5:21).  The reason we bring this verse to our attention is because it is a New Testament verse.  It was written to the church of the first century.  Apparently, John knew that even Christians can turn to idols.  The second passage is found in Colossians 3:5.  “Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry.”  This passage informs us that idolatry does not always consist of a graven image made of gold, silver, wood, or precious stone.  When a person covets wealth and riches, they become his god.

          This writer has witnessed many things turned into idols by unsuspecting church members.  Work has become a god.  Sports have become gods.  Various human relationships have become gods.  Wealth has become a god.  “Personal time” has become a god.  Self has become a god.  Anything that comes before the God of heaven is a god.  Please note that we said that these things have become gods to “unsuspecting” church members.  Many seem not to realize their idolatry.  They do things that put something or someone before God with very little thought about it.  Perhaps in some manner, they rationalize their actions.  Yet, the fact is that God has been put in second place to something else.

          It is interesting that one of the names that God wears is “Jealous.”  In Exodus 34:14, we read:  “For thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.”  God is the ultimate being of the universe.  He is above all.  He is more powerful than all.   Everything owes its existence to Him.  Thus, He expects complete devotion.  Nothing is to be put before Him.  When we do, He becomes jealous.  Those who continue in their idolatrous ways will be punished.  “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone:  which is the second death” (Rev. 21:8).   May each of use resolve firmly to have no others gods before our Father in heaven.