02 August 2013

Of Temples and Idols

Scripture: 2 Kings 21:7-9 (also 2 Chronicles 33:7-9) NLT

Manasseh even made a carved image of Asherah and set it up in the Temple, the very place where the Lord had told David and his son Solomon: "My name will be honored forever in this Temple and in Jerusalem--the city I have chosen from among all the tribes of Israel. If the Israelites will be careful to obey my commands--all the laws my servant Moses gave them--I will not send them into exile from this land that I gave their ancestors." But the people refused to listen, and Manasseh led them to do even more evil than the pagan nations that the Lord had destroyed when the people of Israel entered the land.

And 1 Corinthians 3:16-17 says "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are."

Observation:  

Manasseh's idolatry was scandalous . . . rebuilding all of the things Hezekiah had, in righteousness, destroyed.  Building pagan altars in both courtyards of the temple, doing pretty much every form of evil counterfeit the enemy has for true religion, and then, in a crowning act of horrifying violation, setting up an image of Asherash in the Temple itself.

I have been to LDS temples many times . . . places where people go to feel the Holy Spirit, to get away from the world, to feel closer to their God, and to hear Him more easily.  It's a truly sacred, holy space.  One I crave, and that brings me so much closer to God.  When I'm there, HE is my reality.  The more I go, the more I see the Kingdom of Heaven in its true reality, and this world as the shadow.  About ten years ago, I saw something very sacred to my church up for auction on eBay . . . and I literally began to shake, and nausea washed over me.  And I shook for hours.  I can't imagine the reaction I would have if one of my temples was desecrated in the way Manasseh desecrated the temple in Jerusalem.

Application:  

We are the temples of God.  The buildings are important . . . but they're a symbol of US . . . of what we need to be in our lives, and who we need to have living in our hearts.  God created Adam and Eve so His Spirit could dwell in them.  They were, and we are, literally temples to the Most High God.  Thinking of that in relation to Manasseh's actions sheds such a new light on it.  Idolatry is so insidious today . . . pride, greed, selfishness, fear, envy, belligerence . . . often cloaked in socially-acceptable clothing that looks like working hard for your family, climbing the corporate ladder, or setting our hearts on things. It seems to me that, to God, these modern versions are no different than Manasseh's desecration of His temple in Jerusalem.

Some of you know that, a couple of months ago, God asked me to give away nearly all of my (considerable quantity of really lovely) yarn.  Then, once I did that, he asked me to give away most of my jewelry.  He made these things so easy for me to do . . . He walked me through each step, showed me clearly what was okay to keep, and what I needed to pass on to bless someone else.  And as I did so, He showed me that it wasn't really the stuff I was giving up . . . it was the time and plans I had to knit or weave all of that yarn.  It was the excess I had that someone else needed.  But really, it was about seeing if I loved my stuff more than I loved Him.  And it was no contest. :o)

Prayer:

Lord, keep on showing me the idols I harbor in my heart.  (I'm mortal . . . I know I've got more lurking in there!)  Show me the nooks & crannies where they hide, and lead me in the path to oust them all.  (Thanks, Lord . . . yes, I'll get the piles off of my desk. lol  That's a great place to start.) Help me to lift YOU up high in my heart and in my thoughts.  Let me turn my energy to doing whatever it is that YOU really and truly want me to do.  And please, oh please, let me hear Your answers and trust in them, not filtering them through my pathetic understanding before I act.  Make your instructions plain to me, an infant in Your sight, and strengthen my knees, make my footfalls confident and unwavering, and let me continuously hear You calling my name so I will  never lose my way.  I love You, Lord . . . and I praise your Mighty Name to the utmost my voice will carry it for Your unfailing righteousness, Your unwavering faithfulness!  Let me love You with all I am, with all I have.  I know You will never, ever leave me comfortless. Amen.

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I welcome questions and concerns--they are most often what spur us closer to the truth. I only ask that we all give everyone the most generous benefit of the doubt, assigning the best motives possible. A soft answer truly does turn away wrath, and an atmosphere of Jesus's love is the best for learning, no matter which side of a discussion you're on.

Thanks so much, and God bless you!