As soon as Gideon died, the Israelites relapsed and prostituted themselves with the Baals, making Baal-berith their god. The Israelites did not remember the LORD their God, who had rescued them from the hand of all their enemies on every side; (Judges 8:33-34 NRSV)
Did you ever wonder what the big deal was about idolatry in the Old Testament? The Israelites fell into it time and time again. Why did they and why did it bring on so many problems for them?
Idolatry is defined as “extreme admiration, love, or reverence for something or someone” (British Dictionary). God’s people were warned not to worship the Baals and other gods of the Cananites who inhabited the land before they did. Baal (“Lord”) was the chief god of the Phoenicians and the sun was the object of worship. Baal had a colorless wife who was his shadow. Each city had its own Baal. In the revelation to Moses, God warned the people about idols like Baal much like a woman or man might warn their spouse about old flames or gorgeous members of the opposite gender. Yet, the Israelites kept falling into the same patterns as the people living around them. Many of us followers of Jesus accept the trends and practices of popular culture. The ancient Isralites said like we say “Everyone’s doing it. Hey, what’s the harm?” And Israel experienced many difficulties because they let go of the One who delivered them, the One whose heart desired a quality relationship based on mutual trust and affection.
In the New Testament, covetousness (“having or showing a great desire to possess something belonging to someone else” British Dictionary) is compared to idolatry. Unfortunately, our blessings sometimes work against us. The more we have, the more we want. So much pressure is being put on Christians these days to water down our standards (eg. make money your top priority, lie when it helps your cause, have sexual relations with anyone who captivates your heart, make things more important than God). And we suffer because of our mixed priorities and devotion to our Baals.
God is qualitatively and infinitely greater than the objects or people we place before Him. Why not take a quick inner check and see if there are any idols in the place where God wants to be.