Central to the covenant relationship between the Lord and Israel was worship. What made the Israelites different from all the world around them was that they alone as a nation were worshiping the true God, as opposed to the false gods and goddesses of the pagan world, which were really no gods at all. “Now see that I, even I, am He, and there is no God besides Me” (Deuteronomy 32:39).
Read Deuteronomy 4:19, Deuteronomy 8:19, Deuteronomy 11:16, and Deuteronomy 30:17. What is the common warning in all of these verses? Why is this warning so essential to the nation of Israel?
Thousands of years ago, just as today, God’s people existed in a culture and environment that, in most cases, exuded standards and traditions and concepts that conflicted with their faith. Hence, God’s people must always be on guard, lest the ways of the world, its idols, and its “gods” become the objects of their worship, as well.
Our God is a “jealous God” (Deuteronomy 4:24, Deuteronomy 5:9, Deuteronomy 6:15), and He alone, as our Creator and Redeemer, is worthy of our worship. Here, too, there is no middle ground: we either worship the Lord, who brings life, goodness, and blessings, or we worship any other god, which brings evil, curses, and death.
Read Revelation 13:1-15 and focus on the question of how worship is being presented there. Then contrast those verses with Revelation 14:6-12. What is happening here in Revelation that reflects the warning given in Deuteronomy (and all through Scripture actually) about false worship?
However different the context, the issue is the same: Will people worship the true God and have life, or will they succumb to the pressures, either overt or subtle or both, to turn their allegiance away from Him and face death? Ultimately the answer lies within each individual heart. God did not force ancient Israel to follow Him, and He won’t force us. As we see in Revelation 13, force is what the beast and his image will employ. God, in contrast, works by love.
|How can we make sure that, even subtly, we are not slowly leaving our allegiance to Jesus for some other god?|