2010-01-10 - Why Is Idolatry Even An Issue?
The Ten Commandments, Part 9
Why is Idolatry even a Issue?: Let's go back for a minute to the second parts of Webster's definitions of idolatry and idols: excessive devotion to or reverence for some person or thing." An idol is defined as "any object of ardent or excessive devotion." Now I think we can see from these definitions the warning against idolatry is just as relevant to us today, as it was to the Hebrews of the Old Testament.
Going back to the passage, verse 5, God gives a warning as to the result of disobedience to this commandment. He states first why He wants obedience; I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God " then He warns the result of disobedience, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me." It should also be noted, the Lord also promises blessings to those who love Him and keep His commandments. "but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments."
Now I realize there are two concepts that are troubling here. They are the jealousy of God, and His apparent judgment on succeeding generations. With regards to jealousy, let me quote Murphy, who is more succinct then I am:
"The passions of a moral being have their right as well as their wrong use. Hence anger, jealousy, hatred, and revenge are ascribed to God, not as passions, but as the feelings of a holy being in regard to that which is evil. As the Judge of the universe, God has the supreme right not only to entertain these feelings, but also to carry out their holy behests in the administration of His everlasting dominion." 1
God desires the best for Himself and His children, and that can only be their worship for Himself. He is jealous for their obedience.
As to the issue of His judgment on succeeding generations, the concept of visiting the iniquity in the Hebrew is that the sins of the fathers are being practiced by the children. God is not talking of judging the innocent, but if by the third or fourth generation, the children have not repented and turned to God for His mercy, they will not repent - and He will judge them. I think we all know of cases "like father, like son," and I don't think we always mean this in a good sense. This warning is actually an example of the mercy of God, who gives the opportunity for repentance.
Comments or Questions?