Highways To Zion
Highways to Zion is a weekly devotional message on WVMC FM designed to encourage you in your daily walk with Christ through lessons from everyday life. Here are the archive's of past devotional messages.
See what Judy has to encourage you this week...
Week of July 13th
IDOLATRY AND REST
Matthew Henry’s commentary notes that the list of sins Paul enumerates in his indictment of mankind in Romans 1 encompasses breaking every one of the Ten Commandments. Those who reject God’s revelation of Himself are allowed by Him to descend into deeper and deeper depravity.
As I considered each of the Ten Commandments, the one that really stuck out to me was the fourth: keeping the Sabbath as a day of rest. Our idols do not afford us the luxury of any respite from our pursuit of them, but the living God does.
As I read through Leviticus where the details of the sacrificial system are laid out, I do not find any mention of specific sacrifices that were to be made on the Sabbath day, the only exceptions being the three annual festivals. There were daily sacrifices, morning and evening, that were also done on the Sabbath, but nothing prescribed for the average person to bring as an offering to the Lord on that day.
The God we serve, the Creator, who is perfect in holiness, righteousness, justice, and mercy is pre-eminently deserving of constant worship. This is the picture of the daily morning and evening sacrifices in the Old Testament, that there should always be worship ascending to God. In heaven worship is continual. When the Apostle John was given his vision of heaven (see Rev. 4:1-11), he noted that "day and night they do not cease to say, ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God, the Almighty, who was and who is, and who is to come’ . . . and the twenty-four elders fall down and worship Him" (v.8-10). The angels also worship Him (see Rev. 7:11).
How amazingly gracious it is, then, that this One, who merits unceasing adoration should condescend to allow His people one-seventh of their time to be free from any obligation to Him! This is not to say we are free from His moral requirements, but only from work and religious duties. God is worthy of our perpetual worship but He does not need it, nor does he demand it. (See Psalm 50:8-12.) He is at rest and so He allows us freedom to rest.
Those who reject God’s revelation of Himself seek to set themselves free from His requirements. In doing so they also certainly set themselves far from the possibility of true rest. The author of Hebrews makes it clear that rest is directly linked to faith (Heb. 4:2). The children of Israel did not believe God would overcome the peoples of the Promised Land. As a result, they wandered in the wilderness for forty years until everyone of that generation had died. (See Heb. 3:16 - 4:7.)
Our puny idols, so worthless compared to the great I AM, demand our undivided attention and unending subservience. How grateful I am to know the One who said, "Come to Me, all who work to exhaustion (marginal translation), and I will give you rest" (Matt. 11:28).
© Judy Nichols 2014
Week of July 6th
IDOLATRY AND IMMORALITY
I find it interesting that in Romans 1 Paul is quick to connect idolatry with sexual immorality. As I considered this, the irony became evident. Even in their rejection of God, mankind still exhibited the latent knowledge of His first command to Adam and Eve: "Be fruitful and multiply" (Gen.1:28).
Fertility gods and goddesses have been prominent throughout the ages. And their worship, obviously, involved sexual activities outside the bonds of marriage. What an utter perversion of what God intended to be a blessing! One man and one woman becoming one flesh for life, in order to become co-creators with God of new persons who will be loved most and nurtured best by those who created them.
There is no other love like the love of a parent for the newborn child. The child has done nothing to deserve this love, yet it flows unaided and abundant from the parents’ hearts. This also gives us our best picture of how God loves us, the people He created, since He has identified Himself as our Father.
To pervert this into mindless, non-permanent, non-binding copulation is to repudiate the very created order and, hence, the Creator Himself.
The pain and dysfunction that result from sexual immorality is well documented in social science statistics. It is also evident all around us today. People who dishonor God in this way dishonor themselves as they reap the consequences of their selfish, godless ways. And they bring dishonor and dysfunction to the children they beget as a result. This is part of what may be inferred from God’s statement that He will "visit the iniquities of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generation of those who hate Me" (Ex.20:5).
To deify fertility, with its immoral sexual rituals, would (in those days of no birth control) also produce a host of unintended, indeed likely unwanted, children. It should come as no surprise, then, that there should also be idols to whom little children would be sacrificed. What depths of depravity! As Matthew Henry commented, "How much are we beholden to the restraining grace of God! For, were it not for this, man, who was made but little lower than the angels, would make himself a great deal lower than the devils."
© Judy Nichols 2014