Don’t feel superior to the Old Testament people of God

Don’t feel superior to the Old Testament people of God

As we read the Old Testament, we see many descriptions of idolatry. Idolatry is when you worship something instead of God. The most common idols the Old Testament people of God worshipped were the gods of the Canaanites, Baal and Asherah, and the gods of surrounding nations like the stars from Babylon and Persia. We often read sections where God, by his prophet, strongly condemns them for turning from worshipping the true God to worshipping something else.

One of those sections is Isaiah 65. The people of God had not only stopped caring much about the law or serving the true God (they ate pork and made altars on bricks), they also actively sought to communicate with the dead, to seek the blessing of fertility gods in gardens, and to set feasts for Destiny. It was a sorry state of affairs. We read this, and we feel that God had every reason to be angry at them.

But, in the backs of our minds, we might feel a little smug. A little superior. After all, we are more enlightened, and we don’t have shrines to other gods. We know worshipping other gods and praying to them is wrong. We are more holy than that.

Or are we? We don’t want to be arrogant, for we might be slightly more subtle, but we can do the same kind of thing. God could also call us rebellious people, who so easily provoke him to anger by worshipping what others around us do. We can easily sacrifice and save, not to support ministry, but to fund a lifestyle we want. We can easily neglect devotions regularly but keep up with many entire Netflix series. We can easily drive our children to learn music and swimming and sports, but never open the Bible and pray with them. We can dream of a retirement full of self-indulgence, but not dream of serving God as long as we are able. We are not that different. We are just as fallible, just as sinful, just as guilty.

When we read these Old Testament stories of the failures of the saints who have gone before us, our attitude should not be arrogance and superiority. It should be great sadness and confession. Like them, we are deeply sinful. Like them, we are unable to save ourselves. And like them, when we keep reading through Isaiah 65, we should be amazed that God is so gracious to act to save us and promise us a glorious future.

Humility needs to be the mark of every Christian. We are not OK with God by ourselves. We have not got it all together. Even after many years as Christians, we fall way short of God’s standards. Yet God still loves us and saves us because of Jesus. What an incredible thought.