Behold Your Gods In 930 BC
“Behold your gods, Oh Israel, who brought you out of the land of Egypt!” is what Jeroboam said to the 10 tribes of Israel. (1 Kgs 12:28) His words, spoken during the reign of Solomon’s son in 930 BC, were identical to those spoken by Aaron hundreds of years before in Exodus 32:4! You might ask yourself “How are people so gullible that they would fall for the same old lie?” I would like to suggest the same idolatry deception Jeroboam used is still around, and even fooling God’s chosen people today! It has existed since Eden, it continued through the New Testament and Middle Ages, and is stronger today than ever before. We are continuously besieged with the same lies “Jeroboams” have pushed throughout time. In the chapter before this, about Solomon, we read this ominous warning: “They [his wives] turned his heart away. (1 Kgs 11:3)” If deception worked on wise King Solomon, it can work on us!
Jeroboam was a revolutionary who styled himself as one who “sticks up” for his fellows. (1 Kgs 12). Recall that King Solomon, during his many building projects, progressively oppressed the people of Israel through taxation and forced labor. Solomon’s son, Rehoboam continued this trend, fueling resentment. Jeroboam led a rebellion against King Rehoboam and was successful at achieving a secession of 10 of the 12 tribes of Israel. However, he worried his permanent success was in jeopardy. When the annual religious pilgrimage to Jerusalem approached, he feared the people of the 10 tribes (now called Israel) would soon forget their animosity toward Judah (and King Rehoboam) and reunite with their countrymen. So, Jeroboam figured out a way to prevent the people from going to Jerusalem: he gave them closer, more convenient places of worship. He set up golden calves in beautiful groves and claimed they were legitimate by labeling them with God’s name, “Yahweh.” His ruse to sow discord among brethren was so successful that the Bible never stops repeating: “Jeroboam the son of Nebat who made Israel to sin.” He made Israel to sin.
Jeroboam’s approach has been used as a blueprint for would-be hijackers throughout history: exploit envy and grow resentment; sow discord and divide the people; offer convenience and novelty; water down the truth, normalize immorality; replace religious sanctity with a hollow holiday party of gold and glitter. Jeroboam offered a mixture of “alternative,” “modern,” “progressive,” “liberal,” “scientific,” and even “old school” religion. (the calf, Hathor was a throw-back to Egypt and the Zodiac.)
In 2020, groves like Jeroboam’s Asherah are still attracting the most influential members of society (Cain, Aime. Business Insider, March 2018) In the California redwoods, a private elite camp called Bohemian Grove opens yearly with a mock human sacrifice that takes place in front of a 25-foot owl idol! Bohemian Grove is attended by influential members of government, entertainment, banking, global politicians from the UN, and even former/future US presidents! It may seem bizarre, but this practice is simply a continuation of the groves found throughout the Bible: Ex. 34:13, Deut. 7:5, Judg 3:7, 1 Kgs 14:23, Jer 17:2, and many more!
From Genesis to Revelation, every believer struggled to refuse idolatry: Abraham, Jacob, Rachel, the children of Israel, the judges, Solomon, the kings…everyone! Idolatry can be found in almost every book of the Bible! Do we think that we are beyond the reach of the powerful “Jeroboams” of our age?
Open 24 Hours
Everywhere we look in 2020, the machinations of idol-pushers are evident. We no longer need to “wait for our favorite show” to come on TV or wait until the weekend to go shopping. Entertainment is ALWAYS ON. You now carry your TV (and your wish list) in your pocket! Mammon, the false god of the New Testament, is worshipped more today than ever. The First Commandment in Exodus 20, “Have no gods BEFORE me” implies a sense of priorities. The Second Commandment deals specifically with idols of gods: “You shall not make for yourself a graven image.” An automobile body is literally a graven, molten image. It is an idol if it comes “before” God and causes our priorities to become faulty. Idols are defined as “the work of our own hands” that we ascribe disproportionate worth (“worth-ship”). Pride of possessions (pride of life) is a hungry pit that can never be filled. It eats us up spiritually, mentally, and even physically. Why are humans insistent on this self-destructive behavior? Punishments for disobedience are severe: “Whoever sacrifices to any god other than the LORD must be destroyed.”
As it turns out, three out of ten commandments are about idolatry! In addition to the first two commandments, the 10th: “Thou shalt not covet” also has to do with idolatry. Paul equates coveting with idolatry in Ephesians 5:5: “One who is covetous (that is an idolater).” He warns that it is an external threat: “Let no one deceive you.” Coveting is equivalent to “having other gods before Him.” If you desire to take something from someone else (covetousness, envy), your priorities are faulty, and your “worth-ship” is askew. Covetousness is also a gateway to stealing, adultery and murder. Speaking of priorities, covetousness is considered a virtue in today’s society! If you don’t make it a priority to investigate and buy the latest gadget, people think that you are either dim, dull or lazy. The entire advertising industry exists and functions because of covetousness. Don’t be fooled by their propaganda! If we sweat and slave over material possessions, we are prisoners to a cruel master, giving away our families and our souls to a bottomless pit. If all our time and effort go toward idols made of wood and stone and metal, (and plastic) we are “exchanging the glory of the immortal God for images!” (Rom 1:22-23). Just like the other two commandments involving idolatry, the punishment for covetousness is gravely serious: “for it is because of these things that the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.”
In prophecy, the ultimate symbol of last days idolatry is “Babylon” the “head of gold” (Daniel 2) standing defiantly erect until the day it is struck by Christ, the rock. Revelation chapter 18 says Babylon will be the future “city” in which “all the merchants of the earth” trade in every commodity imaginable (including human souls!). Does that sound like our age? Paul also warns the Galatian churches in Galatians 5:20-21 “idolatry, sorcery…envy…those who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” Interestingly, “sorcery,”the Greek word “pharma kea”—from whence comes “pharmacist” is mentioned alongside idolatry and envy/covetousness. This word appears in other last days passages (Rev 9:21, 21:8 and 22:15). Drug use in the first century is not well-documented, but drugs are certainly some of the biggest idols of our day! Through overuse, abuse, and misuse, even legal drugs have become a “poisoner” of Americans. Covetousness, envy and “pharma” all appear alongside each other in the 6:00 PM news commercials… just like they do in scripture!
Poking Its Head into Heaven
Idolatry means we humans want to “be as gods” or we want to eliminate God and become God ourselves. The first idol-pusher, the serpent, suggested the woman could herself become a god in Gen 3:5. Man has been worshiping himself ever since! At Babel, the pride of humanity said: “Let us make a name for ourselves.” (Gen 11:4). Cain and his seed invented agriculture and tools, which gave them independence from God. Especially since the humanism movement began 100 years ago, modern man has declared himself the “sole heir of evolutionary progress” (read UNESCO: Its Purpose and Its Philosophy by Julian Huxley) and seeks to conquer nature through machinery. We are taught in public school to worship the “creature, not the Creator.” Idolatry wants us to stop depending on God for food, health or security. Insurance, science, medicine, education, the almighty dollar, and unrestrained police/military power are our modern gods in whom we put our faith…not God’s providence and protection! At Babel, the leaders declared they would “reach unto heaven.” Modern man’s infringements into “God’s realm” accelerate each new day, with atomic energy, Cern Lab experiments dissecting matter, CRISPR (Clustered Regularity Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats) enabling gene editing, weather control and machine learning. Atheistic scientists are determined to deliver on mankind’s quest for god-like powers by creating chimeras reminiscent of those decorating the walls of Babylon! Google Translate has reunited the languages separated by God at Babel. Politically, we may soon be placing our faith in global humanism (one-world government), global currency, and artificial intelligence. We may live to see the ultimate idol: Tower of Babel meets Image of the Beast!
Paul accurately describes our tech-hungry world when he says of the Romans in 1:25 “They worship and serve the creature rather than the Creator.” The “I” phone has morphed into a black mirror, a robot version of our selves we cannot do without. It is a crystal ball we scry (scroll) to see the future (forecast) and view remote live events. We are constantly bowing our heads unto it, imprisoned in a dark, illusory worldwide web matrix; instead of “beholding the sun” in God’s three-dimensional world. (Eccl 11:7). It is omniscient and omnipresent. This little robot god knows our deepest darkest secrets (searches) and is creating a logbook of our lives (like Rev. 20:12!) – in “the cloud”! (You can’t make this stuff up!) It knows where we’ve been, where we will go, what we’ve purchased, and uses that information to manipulate us into becoming “ideal” consumers/voters/citizens (subjects) with high “social scores.” “Be not conformed to this world…” (Rom 12:2). Is that even possible when the world is using “smart” technology to make us conform to its utopian vision?
The Image Is “Smart”
Anyone who studies Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) proliferation (e.g. Elon Musk, Ray Kurzweil) knows it to be like “eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil” all over again. The temptation to “become like gods” is repeating itself exponentially. We seem to be accelerating toward what Kurzweil (a technophile) calls “The Singularity,” the merging of humans and A.I. Elon Musk (PayPal, Tesla) calls it “summoning the demon—It could be terrible, it could be great, but we will not control it.” Musk initially proclaimed himself a prophet, warning the world’s military-industrial complexes against A.I., but has resigned from that effort. Instead, he recently launched a new brain chip technology: Neuralink, a two-way brain/internet interface. He thinks a hands-free, 24-hour full-immersion into the “internet of things” is our only hope of surviving A.I. Electronic devices implanted in the brain, like vagus nerve stimulators for depression, and vestibular implants, are yesteryear’s “child’s play” compared to the sci-fi microchip nightmares Musk has planned.
If there is anything we know about idols in the Bible, it is their limitations: they can’t talk, walk, fight, hear, etc. In the 2020s, that is all changing. Once again, the Bible predicts that very same unimaginable change. Revelations 13:15-17 states, “And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed. And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.” Man has always loved and worshipped idols that couldn’t walk, talk, or think. Imagine what man will do with the “idol of his dreams!”
Let no one deceive you. They will turn, even the wisest, heart away. There are entities, which actively promote idolatry; tempting, luring, and deceiving even the elect to partake. “They will turn your children away from following me to serve other gods” is the warning of inevitability given in Deuteronomy 7:4. Yes, Jeroboam is still saying: “Behold your gods!” in the 2020s. And he will make spiritual Israel to sin. The gods of today are still Daniel’s Image and the Tower of Babel, with the addition of the Image of the Beast. In future chapters, the modern-day manifestations of these mind-transforming idols will be uncovered. Answers will be attempted for Who, What, Why, and How. Hopefully, this knowledge will help prevent us from getting “fooled again” by “angels of light” and “wolves in sheep’s clothing” which are incrementally herding us into their nether gloom. Hopefully, we will have the confidence to echo the words of Shadrach in Dan 3:18 “be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up”