“And Yahweh said to the Sons of Israel, ‘Didn’t I deliver you from the Egyptians from the Amorites, from the Sons of Ammon, from the Philistines, from the Sidonians and the Amalekites and Maonites who oppressed you? You cried out to me and I delivered you from their hand. You forsook me and served other gods. So, I will not save you again. Go and cry to the gods which you have chosen; let them save you in the time of your distress.”
Such is God’s judgment on the people. If they want to serve idols that are deaf, mute, and blind and are fixed where their creators or owners placed them, then God says, let those idols save you. Yet, those idols are deaf and cannot hear your prayers. They are blind and cannot see your plight. They are mute and cannot reveal their will. They are immobile and cannot rise to save you with a strong arm. They have no minds by which they can think and understand. They are merely icons of an artist’s imagination with no power in and of themselves to do anything good or bad. They are wretched images in wood, metal, or stone — they may be beautiful to the eye as pieces of art but are wretched as objects of our affection that distract us from the one true and living God who does have the power to see, hear, speak, and save.
Paul writes in Romans 1 that one of the ways that God gives judgment is to give people the lusts of their heart and to allow the effects of those lusts to destroy them. Here that judgment is being delivered like the blow of a sledge. Time and time again, the people have cried out for deliverance and God has granted it. No more, God tells the people — go run to your gods and let them save you. Save yourselves if you think you can.
It has been said that the difference between the pagan myths and the Christian story is that both seek to explain why things are the way they are in the world around us, yet the pagan myths are the answers given by poets and the Christian story is the revelation of God himself. The same can be said in this case. Humans are made to worship something and we tend to accumulate things to ourselves to worship. The worship of man is built on the imagination of man and the work of artists and storytellers. The worship of the one true God is built on man’s submission to the instructions of that God.
The thing that we need to be reminded of is that while the differences between true religion and false religion are profound, the pathway away from the true religion is paved with subtle stones, many of which are portrayed as “Christian” in the popular sense. Why not let the sermon be a pep talk to remind us how much God loves us? Well, because the sermon is supposed to be instruction, rebuke, and exhortation according to the Bible. Why not just sing songs instead of a sermon? Well, unless the Scriptures are read and explained, how shall we know the will of God for us? Why not sing and dance and do drama and art and other kinds of exciting things in worship? Shall we not worship in the way that God has instructed us? Ought not we order our worship upon God’s instructions and not on our preferences? How often modern churches, because it seems different or modern or that it attracts people, practice ideas that had no origin in the Bible, but that are entirely pagan. Woe to those to whom God will say, “Cry out to your own gods for salvation.”