Moses warns the people in the strongest language possible to NOT follow other gods. The one who entices another to do so is worthy of a death sentence.
This sounds harsh but God was determined to protect His people. God would not tolerate ANYONE enticing His people away from Him. He knew the dangers that “god shopping” can create.
God isn’t insecure or afraid some other god could offer something He couldn’t. He knows the lengths Satan will go to in order to separate us from the truth. God knows how slippery it can be for us to go “exploring” other options.
God pulled Israel out from among other gods. Israel was aware of other people having their own gods and having specific rituals associated with them. They even took up with another nation’s god while they were wandering in the wilderness. At Peor they listened to the women of Moab and followed their gods. This cost the lives of more than 24,000 Israelites and would cost more than that in lives of Moabites as God punished them for their part in this event.
We are not told exactly what the practices of the other gods were that Israel fell into at Peor but we do know that the practices of the nations God was casting out were severe. “You shall not worship the Lord your God in that way for every abominable thing that the Lord hates they have done for their gods, for they even burn their sons and their daughters in the fire to their gods” (verse 31).
I imagine their gods didn’t start out with asking for the lives of their children. The requirements were probably small and innocuous at first. But they didn’t stay that way. As time went on they got deeper and deeper into things that they would never have considered in the beginning. Finally they were so deep they couldn’t see a way out. They were trapped in their own depravity.
Moses tells the people that anyone who suggests going after other gods, no matter who they are, are to be PERMANENTLY cut off. God called for them to be stoned and the one who was their intended target is to cast the first stone. He called for the total elimination of such influences.
In our world today there are many things that wrestle for the place of “god” in our hearts. There are also still other gods being put forth by others around the world. I tried naming them but I honestly don’t know them all or which ones are supposed to be gods and which are supposed to be wise men. Honestly, I don’t want to know all there is to know about someone else’s god. Practices like tarot card reading, transcendental meditation, Ouija boards and even horoscopes are beyond where I want to venture. I won’t even go so far as to read the book of Mormon. These are NOT from God and I know to run the other way when presented with them.
But what about the things that we don’t classify as “gods” that ensnare us. They become our gods even if we didn’t set out to make them so. When I was talking earlier about how different gods start out with simple requests and then drag you deeper I started thinking about the world of drug addiction. Drugs work in this same way. But so does chasing after fame, finances and even beauty. I have never followed the drug route or even the fame and finances but I have chased after “beauty” in the form of being thin. The first steps down this road were even positive. Stop eating so much. Exercise more. Improve the quality of the foods I do eat. All these things were good for me and they had a positive impact on the goal I wanted to achieve which was weight loss. But then these things began to take over my focus all together. I started worrying about how many calories were in each and every morsel of food I put in my mouth. I began increasing my exercise to the point that each calorie would be burned off so it wouldn’t go into fat storage. Then I began severely limiting the amount of food I would eat and increasing the exercise to eliminate the fat that was already stored. By the end I was purposefully and forcefully vomiting back any food I felt was more than I should have eaten while still maintaining a HIGH exercise routine. There was no end to what my “god” of thin was demanding from me. It even demanded my relationships with those I love, including my children. It nearly took my life.
God pulled me back from the brink of destruction at least twice when chasing after this “god” in my life. I still struggle with this issue and finding balance between being healthy and chasing after this god. The ONLY way I KNOW I can have any victory is to continually put it back in His hands.
Something else I was thinking about when it comes to false gods is how bank tellers are trained to recognize counterfeit money. They are not given countless examples of counterfeit currency to try and spot the issues but given extensive training with real money so that when something is off they will immediately notice the difference. We don’t need to go out and explore every religion and cult out there to know everything about them to stay safe. Instead we need to spend time with the REAL God and get to know Him so intimately that anything that comes at us that is not from Him will be immediately visible. Only by know the REAL thing can we spot the counterfeit.
Father God I don’t want any idols in my life or false gods. But You know the one that has the greatest toehold in my life. You also know how I’m struggling with it again. I want to be healthy but I don’t want that “goal” to become god in my life again. I NEED Your help. I want to keep YOU on the throne of my heart no matter what. Please restore balance to my teetering mind again. Help me set reasonable and Godly limits on my behaviors. Limits that YOU inspire and desire for me. Thank You Father, Jesus, and Holy Spirit that I can entrust my life to You and KNOW it is safe in Your hands. Remove from me please the destructive desires around food, including using food to sooth my mind. I look forward to seeing the work You have planned for me in this area. Please do it quickly and permanently!