Monday, November 7, 2011

Idols In The Threshing Wall

I went on a mission trip eleven years ago to help Jewish people immigrating to Israel. For one reason or another, though, we only ended up having about four days worth of real work to do in Jerusalem. The rest of the time, we hired a tour guide to take us around the country. So yes, I too have gone on a mission trip that doubled as a vacation.

But even so, in the two weeks I spent over there, I learned more about my faith and its Jewish roots than all of my college religion courses combined.

On several occasions, the guide took us to places where the people of Israel tried to integrate idols into their worship of the one true God. Some were more obvious than others, such as the alter in the city of Dan where the people sacrificed to a statue of a calf. But one day, we went to a large and ancient threshing floor to learn about their agriculture. The builders had left small recesses inside the round wall circling the floor. Someone asked our guide if the people threshing there had put lamps in the walls to light their work after dark. "No," he said. "That's where they put idols to bless and prosper their harvest just in case they didn't see God answer their prayers."

Okay, so I've read the Bible. I know that God's people struggled with idolatry all the time. Maybe the threshing wall shouldn't have shocked me, but that was the moment I realized these people would have called themselves believers in God. They went to the temple. They put on the appearance of obeying God's laws. But inside of their home or their business or their relationships, they had idols. Just in case.

Ezekiel had the same kind of revelation in chapter 8. An angel takes him throughout the temple and shows him where the leaders and all the people really worshipped idols inside.

I know I'm not innocent of this attitude. In the past, I had plenty of days where I said, "God, I trust you, but I'm in real trouble if I don't get enough money for rent." Or, "God, I trust you, but I feel like I'll never get married if I don't do something about it myself." With those instances, and lots of others, I made decisions with a just-in-case mindset. I put idols in my threshing walls.

Have you ever found yourself saying, "God, I trust you, but..."?

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