Well I'm back. At least for today. This one's for you Ames!
Matt was gracious enough to give me a few hours this morning to get out for an extended time with the Lord. After enjoying a quiet breakfast while reading a chapter from "Relationships: A Mess Worth Making", I headed over to the library in hopes of finding my favorite spot by the back windows. I made it through the chaos of kids signing up for the summer reading program and thankfully my nook was empty - waiting just for me! I began with a simple prayer asking God to speak to me through His Word, I opened my journal, took the cap off my precise V5 pilot pen (extra fine in case you were wondering), and flipped to Deuteronomy 23 to continue where I left off. Verse one, here we go.....
"No one whose testicles are crushed or whose male organ is cut off shall enter the assembly of the LORD."
I wasn't expecting this to be the first thing I read on my special time alone. Still happy for the blog entry Amy? :) I didn't understand the verse, I was suddenly extra thankful that I was a woman, and I felt a bit sorry for men who may have had some terrible accident and were therefore not allowed to enter the assembly of the LORD.
This is just one example of why reading something in context and using good commentaries is so vital when it comes to understanding portions of Scripture. After doing a little research, this verse, according to John MacArthur, refers to eunuchs who willfully mutilated (literal in Hebrew, by crushing) themselves and therefore violated God's creation of man. This was associated with idolatrous practices and was done by pagan parents to their children.
Idolatry always seems to find me. Even amidst a random verse like this, once studied out, idolatry is staring me straight in the eyes. This should not surprise me because idolatry is the most frequently discussed and most seriously condemned sin in the Bible. I wouldn't have seen it in this verse on my own, but there it was.
C.J. Mahaney defines idolatry as a substitute for God that one loves, worships, and serves in the place of God. An idol is a false functional god. It may come from an over-attachment to something that is good; it could be a sinful craving for one of God's gifts more than God Himself. God warns the people of Israel over and over again to "take care, lest your heart be deceived, and you turn aside and serve other gods and worship them..." Dt.11:16 We are warned to "take care" because our hearts are so easily deceived when it comes to idolatry. Idolatry often disguises itself as something else; it likes to hide and stay in the dark. It makes grand promises of satisfaction but it never delivers. It deceives you and then it devestates you. How do you know if you are being deceived by idolatry? At Na, C.J. suggested that we can identify idolatry:
a. through Holy Scripture (Heb.4:12)
b. through the Holy Spirit (Psalm 139:23-24)
c. through the Church. We need to invite the "eyes" of others because we are often blinded by our own sin and our way is right in our own eyes.
I am learning that this must be a daily practice. We can't assume because we prayed about it once and asked a few people and got some feedback and even repented, that we're safe from it's presence. Through the glorious gospel the power of idolatry has been broken in our lives, but the presence of sin remains; therefore, loving something or someone more than God will be a daily temptation for us. By the grace of God, once it is found, we can mortify it with the truth of God's word. As a result we will grow in both godliness and gratefulness to God for His rich mercy towards us.