God warned the Israelites that one of the sins that would bring curses and dire consequences cascading down four generations was the sin of idolatry The worshiping of other gods. After Adam and Eve sinned and were subsequently kicked out of the Garden of Eden, man's relationship with the Almighty God took a nose- dive. Once in a while there would be a person who feared God like Enoch (Genesis 5:24), and Noah (Genesis 6:9). However, on the whole man became totally evil. "The Lord saw how great man's wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time. The Lord was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain" (Genesis 6:5-6).
The culmination of this broken relationship between man and God was the flood that wiped out every family on earth except Noah's family. From Noah's family God chose his son Shem, to build a lineage from which He would finally choose Abraham. It is through Abraham that God chose the Israelites A race through whom, the Messiah would come.
God forbade the Israelites, His chosen people, from worshiping any other god but Him. It was one of the first laws in the Ten Commandments. "You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourselves an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations, of those who love me and keep my commandments" (Exodus 20:3-6). God's generosity is seen in that He shows love to a thousand generations, but punishes only four!
God knew only too well, the dangers that lurked in the path of the Israelites as they took over the land of Canaan. The Canaanites worshiped the sun, the moon, the stars, carved images, and the like. God did not want His people learning these idolatrous practices from the people whose land they were going to possess. As the Israelites defeated the Canaanites and took over their land, they were bound to find idolatrous carved images left behind by them. God warned them strictly, not to bring any of these images into their homes, but to burn them in the fire. "The images of their gods you are to burn in the fire. Do not covet the silver and gold on them, and do not take it for yourselves, or you will be ensnared by it, for it is detestable to the Lord your God. Do not bring a detestable thing into your house or you, like it, will be set part for destruction. Utterly abhor and detest it, for it is set apart for destruction" (Deuteronomy 7:25-26). I wonder how many Christians are able to tell an image of a god from an innocent souvenir when they walk into a gift shop.
In West Africa where our family lived for ten years, many missionaries would go to the local market and buy grotesque- looking masks without enquiring whether these were images of local gods. For example carvings of Buddha, the central god in Buddhism, grace the homes of many believers. Most popular seems to be the fat Buddha, which is an image of a pot bellied smiling or laughing carving lying on their side, on the floor. The Bible says that this ""cute"" carving can cause a door of destruction to be opened in the home of the person owning it. These are often souvenirs that have been brought from gift shops as people travel in different Asian countries. These images are detestable to God.
Imagine how any man would feel if his wife hung up a beautiful framed picture of a young man on the wall next to her side of the bed, and casually told him that the man did not mean anything to her, and that she just thought the man in the picture looked handsome. I would imagine that the woman's husband would have that picture out if his bedroom in a hurry! In the Book of Revelations, God calls the Church His bride. Bringing the image of another god into our home is like the wife that hangs up a picture of another man on her bedroom wall. The same jealousy that a husband feels when the wife is unfaithful to him, is the same jealousy that God talks about in Exodus 20: 5, " . . . For I the Lord your God, am a jealous God . . ." God mentions His jealousy again in Exodus 34:14, "Do not worship any other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God." Is a husband justified to be jealous of his wife being attracted to another man? Let us remember the relationship that God has with His children is one of bride and bridegroom. When Israel worshiped other gods, God said through the prophet Jeremiah, "But like a woman unfaithful to her husband, so you have been unfaithful to me, O house of Israel" (Jeremiah 3:20).
The consequence of breaking this law against idolatry was that four generations would ultimately bear punishment, if a great grandparent worshiped another god! God repeated this same warning in Exodus 34:7, Numbers 14:18, and Jeremiah 32:18. In Lamentations 5:7 the message is clear, short and concise. "Our fathers sinned and are no more, and we bear their punishment." This means that there may be certain unpleasant things going on in our life whose origins are from three or even four generations back. It also means that if a person decides to go and see a medium or a witchdoctor, he or she does not go alone, but carries four generations along - Generations who will be suffering calamities that stick to them no matter how they try to escape from them.
In Hebrews 7:9 we are told that Levi (the son of Jacob) was seen to have paid the tithe through Abraham, when he met the High priest Melchizedek and gave him a tenth of what he had acquired from a battle that he had won. The Bible says that Levi is seen to have paid the tithe through Abraham, because he was still in the loins of Abraham when he paid the tithe. By the same argument, if Abraham had worshiped another god, then Levi would also have been seen to worship another god because he would have still been in the loins of Abraham.
What exactly constitutes idolatry? Playing with Ouija boards, reading the horoscope, Palm reading, Eastern meditation, Satanism, Occult, Sorcery, Fortune TellingCasting Spells, Seances, Black Magic, White Magic, Divination, Water Witching, Pendulum, Hypnotism, ESP, Tarot Cards, Charms, Levitation, Crystal ball gazing, Handwriting Analysis, Freemasonry, Eastern Star, Christian Science, Knights Templar, etc.
The Bible says anyone who does these things is an abomination to the Lord. Deuteronomy 18:12.
Nellie Odhuno Shani is a Counselor, Conference speaker and writer. Her first books are available on amazon.com, Barnes and Nobles and on her author's websites.
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