Spirit of Grace Ministries
Spirit of Grace Ministries
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Why Change Gods?

By Dennis Pollock


In the Book of Jeremiah, God asks a penetrating question to the people of Israel. He asks them to look around at their idolatrous neighbors, saying:


Has a nation changed its gods,

Which are not gods?

But My people have changed their Glory

For what does not profit. (Jeremiah 2:11)


Israel has always been a small nation surrounded by many other nations, many far larger than them. But Israel was unique. They were the one nation among all the Middle Eastern nations that did not worship idols. Everyone else had their idol statues dotting the land – wooden idols, metal idols, and stone idols. They believed that once these idols were crafted, their gods took possession of those statues and this made it right that they should worship, venerate, and pray to these man-made works of art. Israel, alone, declared that idols were nothing but "the work of men's hands" and that there was only one true God, and He was invisible. You could not see Him, touch Him, or carry Him from place to place. His name was YHWH, and any other god was nothing at all.


They Never Change


But in Jeremiah, God says, "When you look around at all your idolatrous neighbors, do they ever change their gods? Do they ever say, 'We've been worshiping Baal for a while, but now we have voted and decided that we need a new god,' and then call their god by a new name and create entirely different idols to reflect this regime change?" The answer, of course, is no, the nations never did that. They stayed with the same false gods, generation after generation. No idolatrous nation made any attempt to vote their idol gods out and elect or create a new god. They stayed with the same gods, that could never do them any good, year after year and generation after generation. "If it was good enough for great grandpa, it's good enough for me!"


God now compares this religious loyalty, misplaced as it was, with His people Israel, declaring, "But My people have changed their Glory for what does not profit." What irony that the only people in the world who had the true and living God as their God, were so quick to move away from Him and gravitate toward the idol gods of their neighbors, gods who could not speak, hear, or move, and who could not do them the least bit of good.


Why was this? Why would Israel have this tendency to move away from the living God? This wasn't just a one-time occurrence. Throughout the Old Testament, they did this numerous times, and God was required to constantly anoint and send prophets in their midst to call them back to Himself. Perhaps one of the reasons Israel strayed so often was the strictness of God's laws and commands. Through His servant Moses, God gave Israel hundreds of commands that governed every aspect of their lives, what they could and could not eat, their sanitary habits, and perhaps, most galling, particularly to the men, was God's insistence on sexual purity.


Sexual Liberty


All the other nations allowed for sexual freedom among the men. Women were to behave themselves, but men could pretty much do as they pleased. The idol temples were usually accompanied with "temple prostitutes" that allowed male worshippers to go to the temple, make an offering to their god, and then have a good time sleeping with one of the pretty temple ladies who made themselves available to the worshippers. But with Israel, there were no temple prostitutes, and God had declared that fornication and adultery were completely forbidden. If you were a man, you were allowed to have sex with your wife only. All other ladies (or men or boys) were strictly "hands off." And this must have been looked at among the other nations as a terribly restrictive prohibition. This invisible God of Israel must be a real party pooper. And no doubt the Israelites themselves sometimes felt this way, looking at the freedom of the neighboring nations to have unbridled, unrestrained sex with whomever they wanted, and here they were, forced to limit their sex to their wives, who 25 years after their wedding, didn't look nearly as good to them as those young temple prostitutes.


And sometimes these laws of God chafed the Israelites to such a degree, that they found themselves sliding toward the gods of their neighbors who demanded so little and allowed so much. The 600-plus laws of Moses made the Jews a radically different people, almost freakish by the standards of the times, and sometimes the Jews themselves found these laws terribly burdensome.


Abide, Stay in Me


We live far removed from Jeremiah's days, but this is still an issue for God's people today. Jesus gave a command for all those who come to Him. He stated:


I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me, you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. (John 15:5-6)


Jesus is big on the concept of abiding. The word abide simply means "remain." This is similar to God saying in Jeremiah: "Why do My people want to change gods?" Jesus is saying, "Once you come to Me, don't go anywhere. Abide, stay, remain in Me."


Today, as in Jeremiah's day, most people from other religions or philosophies never change. If you are raised in any particular religion, other than evangelical Christianity, you are likely to stay that way all your life. And this is especially true once you have reached adulthood. Secular people remain secular, new age people remain new age, Hindus stay Hindus, Muslims stay Muslims, atheists remain atheists, and agnostics remain agnostics. Sadly, it is not so much true of those who call themselves Christians. Too frequently we hear of people who once professed to be Christians, later denying the faith, and becoming agnostics or entirely secular, without any real belief in God or moral convictions.


In Christ


There is a powerful New Testament phrase made up of just two words: "In Christ." We hear this again and again. The Bible says: "If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new." (2 Corinthians 5:17). In another place we read, "You are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God…" (1 Corinthians 1:30). To be in Christ is to remain or abide in Jesus. He is our home; He is our habitation. And we are commanded that once we have made Jesus our home, we are not to leave. We seek no other home, we do not camp out in the woods, and we do not dare sell our house to buy a better one, for there is none better than Jesus. Having come to Jesus, we stay put; we remain; we abide." And Jesus tells us that if we do not abide in Him, we become like dry, dead branches fit for nothing but to be cast into a pile of other dead branches and burned in the fire.


Sadly, today our nation is in the process of moving away from our roots in the Bible and Christianity and turning toward the god of secularism. Just as the Israelites found the laws of Moses chafing and restrictive, many today find the commands of Christ and the New Testament exhortations much too confining. Jesus is so strict. He demands that we restrain ourselves sexually to our spouses only. He tells us that we are to be holy just as our God is holy. He demands that we love our enemies, show kindness to the poor, refrain from cursing and irreverence, avoid drunkenness, work diligently, and be self-controlled in every area of our lives. Who is this Jesus – another party pooper? First Moses and then Jesus. Why doesn't God realize that “girls (and guys) just wanna have fun?”


There is no escaping it. If you are going to follow Christ and walk with God, you are going to have to allow Him to have control of your life, and there will be rules to follow, ways to adopt, and practices to forsake. But the benefits are enormous. You will gain a Heavenly Father, you will be provided for all your life, you will be loved and cherished, you will be guided and led in confusing times, you will be encouraged in dark and scary times, and oh, yeah – you will live forever. And to get these amazing benefits there are two things you must do: 1) Come to Jesus by faith, and 2) Abide in Him by faith. Once you arrive, don't go anywhere!




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