“If you ever forget the LORD your God and follow other gods and worship and bow down to them, I testify against you today that you will surely be destroyed. Like the nations the LORD destroyed before you, so you will be destroyed for not obeying the LORD your God.” Deuteronomy 8:19-20
I’ve recently taken up the in-depth study of Gideon, and it has brought me to the pages of the Old Testament that detail the story of the nation of Israel. If you’re not familiar with their history, let me give you a quick overview. God’s chosen people, the nation of Israel, were rescued out of hundreds of years of slavery to be brought to a land of promise. You’d think they’d celebrate and never stop praising God for all that He had done for them, but their hearts quickly turned from Him….again, and again, and again. The cycle of their lives goes something like this:
They chose to wander from their first love (the God of Heaven) in sin.
Their sin brought devastating consequences upon them each time.
God pursued them with His truth and love.
Israel was redeemed and restored to right relationship with God.
They chose to wander from their first love (the God of Heaven) in sin….
Can you see where this goes? For some reason, although this cycle seemed to be repeated throughout each generation, they kept falling into it. Why? Having suffered the severe consequences of their sins, you’d think they would do everything they could to keep from falling into them again. But they didn’t. Why?
I would suggest to you today that their sin isn’t far from our own today. They repeatedly “replaced God” with other loves, with other pursuits, with other objects of affection. I was just recently sitting with the ladies in my small group, and our time together was spent sharing prayer requests and praying for one another. A somewhat common thread that was woven throughout each of our stories as we shared was this overwhelming desire to have our needs met through the love of our spouses. These conversations led us back to Scripture and truth that would point us towards Christ being our portion FIRST, then every other good thing, including the love, support, and care from our husbands, is the overflow. We extend our empty cup towards Heaven first, Christ fills it, and then we extend it to others. But somewhere along the way, we have gotten these two steps reversed. I hope that each one of us walked away that night with a deep conviction to find all that we need in the Lord above all else. I know that I did.
Although we might not be experiencing identical consequences to those that Israel suffered from (captivity, enslavement, national devastation, etc.), I can’t help but wonder how much of the discontent that we experience each and every day is related to this unfortunate reality that we continue to “replace God” with other things. As Christians, many of these replacements are actually “good things” (spouse, children, church, serving, etc.), but the truth is that good things can become bad things when we make them into “God things”.
What affections, pursuits, longings, or loves have replaced what should be your first love, Jesus Christ? What captures your heart above all else? Could I go so far as to say that we are being “destroyed” over this foolish practice of replacing God with other things in our lives? Today, God is calling us back to Himself. He will not share His glory with another. He takes great delight in meeting our every need. Let’s choose for ourselves this day whom we will serve.