Waiting. Anticipation high. The air of expectancy of a Messiah to come and rescue the Jewish people from captivity. But the time of the Messiah was not quite ready. First we see the dreadful and terrible effects of the law working to expose sinful deeds.

As a generation, the Jewish people were turning their hearts away from the one true God, and looking to other false god’s, lesser gods that could not save them.

“…They did not stop worshipping demons, and idols of gold, silver, bronze, stone and wood-idols that cannot see or hear or walk.” Revelation 9:20

“Do not turn to idols or make metal gods for yourselves. I am the Lord your God.” Lev. 19:4

“Do not make idols or set up an image or a sacred stone for yourselves, and do not place a carved stone in your land to bow down before it. I am the Lord your God.” Lev. 26:1

“you have done more evil than all who lived before you. You have made for yourselves other gods, idols made of metal; you have aroused my anger and turned your back on me.” 1 Kings 14:9

“They forsook all the commands of the Lord their God and made for themselves two idols in the shape of calves, and an Asherah pole. They bowed down to all the starry hosts, and they worshipped Baal.” 2 Kings 17:16

“They angered him with their high places; they aroused his jealousy with their idols.” Psalm 78:58

“Our God is in heaven, he does whatever pleases him. But their idols are silver and gold, made by human hands. They have mouths, but cannot speak, eyes, but cannot see.” Psalm 115:3-5

“Their land is full of silver and gold; there is no end to their treasures. Their land is full of idols, they bow down to the work of their hands, to what their fingers have made.” Isaiah 2:7-9

And the above passages are just a sampling of the turning away from the one true God, turning to lesser gods, the god’s of the people surrounding the nation of Israel.

So in turn, as a result of their turning away, the Lord allowed the nation of Israel to be taken into captivity in order to humble their hearts, that they would turn back and remember all the glorious ways the God of Israel had rescued them in the past, hoping they would turn back to Him with their whole heart so that He could cause a hero to rise among them and bring about their deliverance, so they might see that the God of Israel was not a mere idol, carved of wood and stone, but a living God, with great power beyond human ability. But over and over He would reveal this power, and over and over the love of God in the hearts of his people would turn cold as they would run after their lesser gods.

“My people have committed two sins; they have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.” Jeremiah 2:13

The worst was about to come. The kingdom of Israel would be ripped in two, and both kingdoms, the north and south, were inevitably doomed to be taken into captivity, first by the Assyrians, and finally, the Babylonians. Their temple destroyed, the worship that primarily had to do with the temple needed a new expression in a foreign land with no temple. The Israelites would need to come up with ways to renew their commitment to God and turn their hearts back to him. They came up with their own attempts to earn their way back to God, by coming up with new rules and laws, and ways of interpreting the scriptures. This of course would eventually become a stumbling block to them.

But here we are, at the turning point. The attempts of earning the favor of the living God, just as the surrounding nations have done for thousands of years, making sacrifices to appease their gods and seek to earn favor. The Jewish nation adopted this method by the laws they created for themselves to discipline themselves to follow God. But this was never what the God of the bible had intended. A God hungry for the love of his creation, whose primary objective was to love them and be loved and have the people experience and receive the love of God, they had now turned their faith into a list of do’s and don’ts, just as Christians have done as well. There is something about fallen sinful nature that is wired to “earn our way.”

This was never the plan. A radical shift of thinking would need to occur to understand God’s grand narrative -his remarkable plan of salvation. But when would it come? How long would they need to wait?

Stay tuned next week and the week after, as I dig a little deeper about what idolatry is defined as, and a look at the kinds of idols the Israelites worshipped thousands of years ago. And then there are the whispers of a savior, one like King David in the Old Testament, who would be the one to deliver the people of God from slavery. But would it look quite like the Jewish people were looking for, or would it possibly be fashioned in a different mould than was expected?

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