Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Tearing Down Those Other gods

Lil,

I just want to express my thanks for showing me something about myself that should have been so obvious and yet I was too blind to see. I love you so very much.



Tearing down the Asherah pole

Yesterday I was reading through 2nd Kings and I reached a conscious point where I thought to myself that, what I was reading was just more redundant writing which was used to describe the previous king of Judah or Israel. Just more of, and _________ did evil in the eyes of the Lord.

Now it came about in the third year of Hoshea, the son of Elah king of Israel, that Hezekiah the son of Ahaz king of Judah became king…And he did right in the sight of the Lord, according to all that his father David had done. He removed the high places and broke down the sacred pillars and cut down the Asherah…He trusted in the Lord, the God of Israel…So Hezekiah slept with his fathers, and Manasseh his son became king in his place…And he did evil in the sight of the Lord, according to the abominations of the nations whom the Lord dispossessed before the sons of Israel. For he rebuilt the high places which Hezekiah his father had destroyed; and he erected altars for Baal and made an Asherah…1

I think I’d become a little bored reading about the lives of leaders who did not value their relationship with God. Men, who time and time again found reasons to erect images of idols, practice the worship of images and even engage in human sacrifice. I reached the point where I just wanted to be done with the books of Kings 1 and 2. It was then that the Holy Spirit spoke to me about one particular idol that frequently gets mentioned. I became fascinated with the preoccupation each idol worshipping king seemed to have with the Asherah poles.

What was it that endeared the men to erect this image time and time again, particularly in the case of the kings of Judah when their fathers tore down the image?

Did they not learn anything from the godly fathers who preceded them?

Did they not learn any truths from the ungodly fathers who preceded them?


Two kings in particular, Hezekiah and Josiah were both godly kings who honored God and yet when they died, their sons reinstituted the worship of false gods; particularly Asherah.

I wondered what these Asherah poles did that actually enhanced the lives of those who worshipped them.

It was then that the Holy Spirit showed me that the Asherah poles represent the things in my life that I cling to out of tradition, insecurity, desire and fear. I guard over those poles in my life to the point where I subconsciously defend having them. The thought that I myself was no different from those kings whom I’ve been reading about alarmed me.

What am I holding onto that needs to be torn down?

What poles have I erected around me that function more like a barrier to God and others?

I thought about these questions and heard the word of rebelliousness. I knew I was formerly rebellious, but I no longer saw myself like that from my current vantage point looking over my life. The Holy Spirit wanted to show me a different vantage point; one that allowed me to see what I really didn’t want to see.

I saw an unwillingness to be accountable, a problem submitting to authority, and a stubbornness that sought to follow my own path. I wanted to say, “That was part of my past but I’m not that same guy anymore!” But before I could utter a word of defense, the Holy Spirit showed me little subtleties which I subconsciously acted on.

I began to realize how easy it is to hang on to things that are so totally wrong for me and think that it’s cool, it’s not a REAL problem, I can handle things fine just the way they are. By relying on my intelligence, my talents, my skills and my knowledge, I was usurping the authority of God in my life.

What did I have to show for my Asherah poles?

I felt my own devised sense of security; I was protected from ever being hurt by anyone.

Who did I think would hurt me? Why even now did I feel the need to shield myself?

As I pondered these questions, I felt something which I’d always tried to shield myself from feeling; I felt vulnerable, weak and afraid.

I thought, O God, why do I cling to ways that bring me nothing but frustration and pain? Why do I value the empty thoughts and behavior in my life?

I want to tear down these poles that are part of my life Lord, but I don’t know if I can.

Surrender them to Me”, He says.

There is genuine concern for what I’m about to say but I know He knows me better than I know myself.

I’m willing Lord, I really want to but I need Your help because I really don’t know how...

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your way acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.2

The troubles of my heart are enlarged; Bring me out of my distresses. Look upon my affliction and my trouble, And forgive all my sins.3

O God, Thou art my God; I shall seek Thee earnestly; My soul thirsts for Thee, my flesh yearns for Thee, In a dry and weary land where there is no water.4

Heavenly Father,

I dont want the phrase he did evil in the sight of God to be associated with my name; I want to do what pleases you, what honors you, what worships you. Help me tear down those things in my life that I've erected. Things which hinder and harm my relationship with You, things which prevent intimacy with You. The things which keep me from being close with others. You give love to me without measure and I am constantly in awe of Your tremendous capacity to love me. Thank you Lord for the work of the Holy Spirit in my life, helping me grow in grace and love for you. Amen.


Footnotes:
  1. 2 Kings 18:1, 3-5; 20:21; 21:2-3, NASB
  2. Proverbs 3:5-6, NASB
  3. Psalm 25:17-18, NASB
  4. Psalm 63:1, NASB
References:
  1. Unger's Bible Dictionary, By Merrill F. Unger, Moody Press, Chicago
  2. The Ryrie Study Bible (New American Standard Version), Edited by Charles C. Ryrie, Moody Publishers, Chicago, Illinois, ISBN 0-8024-8920-6


12 comments:

Teresa said...

MTJ...what a thought provoking, heart provoking, transforming post. What are the things in my life that I have erected as an idol? I agree with your prayer unto God, "I dont want the phrase he did evil in the sight of God to be associated with my name; I want to do what pleases you, what honors you, what worships you. Help me tear down those things in my life that I've erected...." Thank you for being humble before the Lord to reveal His freedom!

Karen said...

"It was then that the Holy Spirit showed me that the Asherah poles represent the things in my life that I cling to out of tradition, insecurity, desire and fear. "...my, my...this really struck a chord...very good words here that I will be pondering for a while this evening...and then having a talk with my Maker...

A Peculiar Person said...

What a powerful posting.
It reminds me of all of the times I read about the kings who followed after God and did good in the sight of the Lord but still left something undone (if my memory serves me, many of them let the sacrifices at the high places remain).

It's so interesting to consider those things that we allow to remain in our lives because we don't see them as a "big" deal. We can say "I've changed so much, I've done so much, I am so much more like Christ than I used to be", and all of that may be true - but the DEPTH of obedience that God has called us to is so much greater than that. Not for the sake of obedience, but for our benefit!

MTJ said...

Teresa: That is my heart's desire; to echo the words of Paul:
"I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus."

Karen: Enjoy that talk my sister.

Paula: That's the truth I've come to realize, I took solace in the notion that, "I'm not what I used to be." I was satisfied and assumed God ought to be as well. But the truth is that, God wants all of me, spirit, mind and body. Realizing I was still holding on to things that affect my relationship with God and with others just doesn't work anymore. I have become an avid reader of your blog; appreciating the insights you bring to this community.

Sharon Kirby said...

MTJ -
Sorry I'm so late in responding to this post! We've been traveling all day - taking a short vacation. (I've brought along the laptop so I can stay in contact with everyone, though!)

Your courageous honesty continues to touch me. What you say makes me explore my heart and soul deeper. God has also been working on me in the last few months - some of it is painful work.

Because some of my "idols" are good things, in and of themselves. For instance, I really LOVE my sons - but I have a terrible time truly entrusting them completely to the Lord. I WORRY about so many things. Loving your children is a good thing - but not trusting God with them is NOT!

"Surrender them to Me" - those words from your post (and from the Lord to me) really sums it all up for me. May the Lord help me as I deal with worry and trust issues, and may he help you, too...

I, too, am grateful for the work of the Holy Spirit in my life.

BLESSINGS TO YOU!

MTJ said...

Sharon: You are a blessing my dear sister; no apology from you is necessary. Enjoy your vacation time away, relax, be refreshed, and be renewed in your love and passion for our Lord, your family and friends.

One thing the Holy Spirit continues to remind me (besides faith, trust and many other things I tend to forget) is that God is never surprised by anything; it's us who are the recipients of surprises. Give God a chance and see what He can do through the lives of your sons; He may surprise you.

As far as this blog goes, do not concern yourself with it. Lord willing, it will still be here upon your return from vacation.

Have a great vacation my friend!

sarah said...

sometimes it's easier for me to trust in what I can see than in what I can't but when it comes right down to it....trusting Him....is the only thing that really works. Thank MTJ antoher amazing post.

Sharon Kirby said...

MTJ -
Thanks for your kind comments. FYI - I have already pre-posted for my blog for the next couple of days. And I will be checking in every day on your blog, too. It will just probably be at the end of the day.

You CAN'T GET RID OF ME!!!! HA!

Besides my daily Bible reading, and my time with the Lord, your blog (and/or your comments on mine) has become one of my daily "constants" - so I will continue to stay in contact with you - hop on over to my blog if and when you get a chance. I'll still be there (even while I'm out of town - that is ONE good thing about the new technology!!)

BLESSINGS TO YOU TODAY!

Merana Leigh said...

Woah! I SO love purusing the dashboard to find your latest. Truthfully, I check on blogger long before I check e-mail or even Facebook. Time with all of you is where I find great value, after time with the Lord.

MTJ when you say "I felt something which I’d always tried to shield myself from feeling; I felt vulnerable, weak and afraid," I could SOOO relate to that. What God has shown me tho', in that instance, is that THAT's when we truly show our trust in Him. He's been true to show me that in not allowing myself to be vulnerable, weak & afraid, I've simply stopped "living", and only exist. BIG DIFFERENCE! (of which I will hopefully post very soon [it's been an incredibly challenging week for me - would appreciate prayers!])

Hugs in continuing to open up & reveal something of yourself in reaching out to others for Him!!!

~ Merana

Family, Money and Stuff said...

Wow. That's some deep, insightful stuff. I really appreciate your willingness to bear your heart here - to get real honest: "I felt something which I’d always tried to shield myself from feeling; I felt vulnerable, weak and afraid."

This is big, deep stuff to grapple with ... I fear I may have felt that vulnerability and ran to hide. I just never considered that I might have been hiding behind Asherah poles...

Thank you for this insight, challenge, and peek into your walk with God.

Kim

MTJ said...

Sarah: I too find it easier to rely on the tangible rather than the intangible but you are so right...the bottom line now is trusting the Lord.

Sharon: I do appreciate your example of being a woman of God. You share both a faith and wisdom that truly encourages me to be a better Christian man, husband, father, son, brother and friend.

Merana: You have been in my thoughts and prayers my sister. In spite of the challenges you face this week, I pray it ends on a high note for you.

Kim: Thank you for your encouragement. As a man, I have found it difficult to grapple with emotions, choosing instead to mask them with bravado.

I believe in order for me to draw closer to the Lord, I must allow the layers of my emotions to be peeled away so that I am spiritually naked before the Lord; I no longer wish to hide from Him.

Wanda said...

After enjoying your prayer so much, I decided to poke around on your blog. Having read through the Kings not too long ago, this really stood out to me. Such a great revelation that you've shared and you've given me something to ponder upon myself.