Sep 13 2020 Deconstructing the Narrative behind Your Idols
13th September 2020
Lord, we give you our hearts as we come to Your altar. We know you are a forgiving God and it is by Your forgiveness that we can come to You.
I’m going to go back to last week a little bit. Towards the end of last week, I said – every idol (we were looking at the idolatry of Israel) – has a narrative, and that narrative needs to be understood and dismantled.
We saw that Baal was the god of thunder/the storm god – the one who controlled the weather. Palestine had rainy seasons, and if the rain did not come, there would be tremendous loss of life. They would make sacrifices to Baal to get him to bring rain. And if it didn’t rain, they would offer more and more sacrifices – even to the point of sacrificing their children. We know better – we grew up with Dick Goddard, the weatherman! But if you belonged to THAT narrative – it would make total sense to you. We have idols with narratives today that are just as controlling.
Narrative – let me give a synonym – the lie of Satan! The narrative behind the idol and the lie of Satan are the same! The lies of Satan are told in narrative form.
The first lie – the big one – in the story of Adam and Eve – the snake in the garden – a very familiar story – and right off the bat, the snake says – didn’t God say you could not eat from any tree in the garden?
There is a story behind this lie. Yes, this is a lie – there was just the one tree – and the serpent was trying to convince them that God is bad, and He doesn’t want you to enjoy any of this fruit and he is holding back from you.
No, Eve says – just the one tree – if we even touch it, we will die.
Satan: You will not die! He knows if you eat it you will have the power and knowledge He has – He just wants to keep you down and not gain equality with Him!
And that lie had tremendous power in that moment in the lives of Adam and Eve.
Romans 1:25 For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions;
Romans 1 is about the downward spiral of humanity.
As Christians, we create two problems with that chapter. First – we say, yep, that is about THOSE people – that is what they do! But Paul says in the next chapters, no, it is about ALL OF US.
The other problem – we focus on the specific areas of moral corruption – and we miss the source and cause of every one of those corruptions: Idolatry.
All sin flows out of idolatry. If you have a besetting struggle, there is a story of idolatry behind that for all of us!
That is what he is saying in Romans 1,2, and 3
For us, it is nuanced. We don’t have these statues - hopefully –
Let me tell you how this works – Commercials. Beer commercials – the Browns will be on today – so lots of beer commercials.
They are selling you stuff, but it is done through story. The people behind the commercial are famous/successful, driving fancy cars down fancy roads – and the story is this: Buy their product, and this could be your life!
Think of the powerful impact and control that has over peoples’ lives!
So many ways!
2 Corinthians 10:3 3 Indeed, we live as human beings, but we do not wage war according to human standards; 4 for the weapons of our warfare are not merely human, but they have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments (speculations in another translation) 5 and every proud obstacle raised up against the knowledge of God, and we take every thought captive to obey Christ.
And we jump to Elijah – and he is dismantling the story of Baal
And Paul is saying – we need to destroy the context behind the idol.
Back to Elijah – Elijah has been hiding out
1 Kings 18:17 17 When Ahab saw Elijah, Ahab said to him, "Is this you, you troubler of Israel?" 18 He said, "I have not troubled Israel, but you and your father's house have, because you have forsaken the commandments of the LORD and you have followed the Baals. 19 "Now then send and gather to me all Israel at Mount Carmel, together with 450 prophets of Baal and 400 prophets of the Asherah, who eat at Jezebel's table."
So he engages this final battle for the purpose of determining who is God – is it Baal or Yahweh?
20 So Ahab sent a message among all the sons of Israel and brought the prophets together at Mount Carmel. 21 Elijah came near to all the people and said, "How long will you hesitate between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him."
That is the issue – and that is the issue for all of us! If God is god – follow Him! If you find a better god, follow that god.
Jesus said, you cannot serve (worship) two masters – you will love one and hate the other!
Jesus understood the parallel.
But the people did not answer him a word. 22 Then Elijah said to the people, "I alone am left a prophet of the LORD, but Baal's prophets are 450 men.
Elijah was wrong about that – but God deals with it later… and we’ll talk about it later…
23 "Now let them give us two oxen; and let them choose one ox for themselves and cut it up, and place it on the wood, but put no fire under it; and I will prepare the other ox and lay it on the wood, and I will not put a fire under it. 24 "Then you call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of the LORD, and the God who answers by fire, He is God." And all the people said, "That is a good idea." 25 So Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, "Choose one ox for yourselves and prepare it first for you are many, and call on the name of your god, but put no fire under it."
This is all about allegiance – who will you serve? Where is your biggest commitment? Who is it to?
26 Then they took the ox which was given them, and they prepared it and called on the name of Baal from morning until noon saying, "O Baal, answer us." But there was no voice, and no one answered. 27 It came about at noon, that Elijah mocked them and said, "Call out with a loud voice, for he is a god; either he is occupied or gone aside, or is on a journey, or perhaps he is asleep and needs to be awakened." 28
He is showing them the total foolishness of serving something else. It is of no value – worthless – useless to serve anything else but God.
So they cried with a loud voice and cut themselves according to their custom with swords and lances until the blood gushed out on them.
This is weird to us – but this is about spirituality and outward signs of piety. We do this in different ways – thinking we have to wake him up!
31 Elijah took twelve stones according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, to whom the word of the LORD had come, saying, "Israel shall be your name."
First – he reminds Israel who they are – and then he reminds them to whom they belong.
We need to be reminded of this as well.
We are his children in whom He is well-pleased – whom He loves – and He is the one who deserves our allegiance and loyalty.
32 So with the stones he built an altar in the name of the LORD, and he made a trench around the altar, large enough to hold two measures of seed. 33 Then he arranged the wood and cut the ox in pieces and laid it on the wood. 34 And he said, "Fill four pitchers with water and pour it on the burnt offering and on the wood." And he said, "Do it a second time," and they did it a second time. And he said, "Do it a third time," and they did it a third time. 35 The water flowed around the altar and he also filled the trench with water.
So he is just making this impossible – because he wants to show off who God really is (not himself).
36 At the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, Elijah the prophet came near and said, "O LORD, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, today let it be known that You are God in Israel and that I am Your servant and I have done all these things at Your word. 37 "Answer me, O LORD, answer me, that this people may know that You, O LORD, are God, and that You have turned their heart back again."
So he comes with just simple prayer – not cutting himself or doing anything weird –
The key is his heart. His heart is to make God known.
38 Then the fire of the LORD fell and consumed the burnt offering and the wood and the stones and the dust and licked up the water that was in the trench. 39 When all the people saw it, they fell on their faces; and they said, "The LORD, He is God; the LORD, He is God." 40 Then Elijah said to them, "Seize the prophets of Baal; do not let one of them escape." So they seized them; and Elijah brought them down to the brook Kishon and slew them there.
Elijah told a much more powerful story. And when people hear and see a more powerful story, that is where they go – where they turn.
We have the most incredible story of all to tell! And if we tell it well, it will capture peoples’ hearts! And the only way to dismantle the false stories of today is to tell the true story in all its fullness! It is more than religion – it is a person by the name of Jesus – and in the Bible, we have 4 books that tell that story – they are called the gospels, because that is what they are! They are the gospel!
The old movie – the Greatest Story Ever Told – not the greatest movie ever made – but it is the greatest story!
Let’s pray – Lord, thank You for this story You have given us to tell – the Lord, He is God!