So if the biblical text of Ehud and Eglon is about the continual struggle through out humanity’s history between God and idols, what specific applications can we draw for our own life from the text?
Idols ignored in one generation overwhelm the next. In Judges 1:27-35, you see a list of Israelite tribes along with the idol worshiping people groups they chose to not wipe out. They allowed those groups to live and to continue worshiping idols, which would be the continual downfall of Israel. It was not about the people themselves. In fact, God used a woman from Moab to bring about the royal line of Israel and serve as an ancestor for Christ. Ruth was a Moabite and King David’s great-grandmother.
Previous generations of Christians felt that the church would be better served if we just removed ourselves from culture, from academia, from politics. They thought, “We should just shelter ourselves and our kids away from it all and everything would be great.” Current generations are paying for that folly. Christianity is not a sub-culture to be hidden behind stained glass windows. It is and has always been a counter-culture that lives out in the open as salt – working to better culture, and light – living lives that reflect the love of Christ.
Many in current generations have and are seeking to downplay the seriousness of sin and my sons’ generation of Christians will suffer if sin is not dealt with through the power of the Gospel. Many today also seek to promote blessings ahead of the Blesser. My job as a follower of Christ is not seek out the best and easiest possible life I can. It is to whole heartedly serve Christ with radical abandon making sacrifices on a regular basis.
Because of the ignored idols, past victories were wiped away. Judges 3:13 specifically mentions Moab overtook the city of palms, which was another name for Jericho. Jericho – the site where Joshua’s generation saw God perform an amazing military victory. God brought the walls down after Joshua and Israel were obedient to march around the city and blow the horns. We all know the famous Bible story. Yet, despite that great victory, Moab overtook the city when Israel fell into sin.
Battles have to be re-won every day. I cannot rest on a defeat of sin in my life last year or last week. Areas of our lives where God has brought great victory can be the very same areas that Satan uses to bring about great downfall. Think of the man whom God has delivered from alcohol. That is a great victory, but it is only as great as the next day the man is able to avoid drinking again. Yesterday’s victory will be tomorrow’s defeat if idols are ignored and allowed to remain in our lives.
It’s about idols. It’s always been about idols. John Calvin said, “The heart is an idol factory.” Martin Luther saw the first two commandments God gives deal with idols and he asked rhetorically, “Could it be that God is trying to tell us something?” Early Church Father Tertullian concluded, “Every sin comes from idolatry.” In Theology for the Church, by SEBTS President Dr. Danny Akin, the chapter on sin summarizes sin as being the result of idolatry, of “not letting God be God.”
So if we do not want to ignore the idols in our life, how can we see them? It can be difficult to identify them, but I recently heard Darrin Patrick, pastor of The Journey Church in Missouri, give some great questions about idols in your life. I’ve taken some of his, added some of my own to help you find lurking idols that have been ignored in your life.
Where do I go to comfort myself? Food, entertainment, friends, Facebook, relationships. When things go bad, this is where I turn.
What are you most proud of? This always comes up when you are talking to someone new – your favorite character trait, your family, your kids, your job, your car, a past achievement. What do you always want to make sure someone knows about you?
Who or what makes you shift your principles? You know something is wrong, but you start making changes to allow it in your life. You know this is one of your idols when you see someone around you doing the same thing you are doing and you start thinking about how bad that person is for doing what they are doing, but you, what you are doing, well that’s different. somehow. For some it’s relationships. They’ll ignore what they know is right for the approval of the other person. For some it may be money – big or small. What makes you forget what you were taught?
What are you anxious about? Future, health.
What makes you angry, whether you show it or not? politics, sports.
What do you defend? What about yourself do you defend? Someone pokes in this area of your life and you are automatically defensive.
What would be the one thing that if you lost it you would want to die? If this was taken away you would have no idea how to define yourself. Outside of thinking of your family, for me if I couldn’t write, read or teach I’m not sure what I would do. I don’t know who I would be. Talents can become idols. Ministry can be an idol. Good things can be idols sometimes more easily than bad things.
This last question was the one that really convicted me – what do you lie about? It’s easy to say “I don’t lie.” But we all know that was a lie right there. When do you most often feel like lying. For some it is power. They lie to make themselves seem more powerful, more important than they really are. For some it is leisure. They will lie to make themselves seem more busy than they so they don’t have to do any more work.
I’ll go ahead and confess mine. I am tempted to lie to enhance my reputation, to make others thing well of me. God has been constantly convicting of how much of a passion I have for my reputation, but how little I have for my character. Reputation is who people think you are. Character is who God knows you to be. I’m tempted to lie to make my reputation better, focusing more on the opinion of others than the knowledge of Christ.
Hopefully, the Holy Spirit has brought to light some idols that have been ignored in your life. Now what to do with them? Well, we do what Ehud did – we kill the king.