Deborah Part 2: The Darkness of Idolatry
Verse 1: And the children of Israel again did evil in the sight of the LORD, when Ehud was dead.
As we begin our spiritual exploration of the great exploits of Deborah and Barak, we find the situation in Israel was very dark…the children of Israel had committed evil in the sight of the Lord. As we bring our story up to date, we can see that human nature has not changed one bit. The Church today as a type of Israel of the Old Testament has also committed evil in the sight of the Lord. Many of us are not aware of this evil. We attend church regularly, perhaps give a tithe of our income, serve on a committee and do good works, but something is definitely wrong evidenced by the fact that the church looks no different than the pagan society around her.
What is this great evil to which the Church has succumbed? Idolatry! Idolatry is just as rampant in Christianity today as it was in Israel of old. We may not be bowing down to stone statues or building golden calves, but we have idols in our hearts that are just as real in the eyes of the Lord.
If we were to love the Lord our God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength we would stand out boldly opposite from our neighbors. If we had been salt and light to our nation, America would not be submerged in the sea of filth that daily spews forth from the media and the entertainment community nor would there be so much corruption in our government.
Many Christians have been like the proverbial frog in the boiling water. Changes have happened so gradually as our nation has moved away from its Christian moorings that many have hardly noticed. Others who have noticed are shocked by what they see enmeshed in the mucky mire of compromise and acceptability even in the church. It is hard to stand against the tide when “everybody is doing it,’ or when we will be criticized by our peers for calling sin “sin” and not indulging in it.
God is calling his people to rise up into holiness where we will dwell with him in a dimension of victory, joy and peace beyond anything we have ever known. This will require the relinquishing of every idol and denying ourselves all selfish pursuits until our hearts are completely his. The story of Deborah will show us how God intends to work with us and in us to bring us to the spotless purity of the Bride he is preparing for his Son.
The first verse of our text reads, “and the children of Israel again did evil in the sight of the Lord when Ehud was dead.” The previous chapters in Judges reveal that this evil was idolatry. God created human beings with a need to worship in that we cannot feel complete or satisfied within ourselves. We need something or someone else to help us find our identity and make us feel happy and complete. Also it was always God’s intention that he be the one to fill that void. Whenever we look to someone or something other than Jesus Christ to meet our need for love, security or identity, we are idolatrous. The Israelites again began one of their many downward slides into idolatry when Ehud, their previous judge and leader was dead.
The name “Ehud” means “union.” Ehud was dead. For our spiritual understanding of this passage, we will interpret this to mean that union with Christ, and therefore with one another, has ceased to exist. If we are living in union with Christ, we are spending time with him daily, submitting our will to his and allowing him to be part of everything we do. When we fail to do this, we automatically fall into sin. As a consequence of our sin, we begin to live according to our natural mind, Jabin ( in type seen as our natural mind that will be explained later), rather than by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. This always gets us in trouble because as God warns us, “There is a way that seems right unto a man, but its end is the way of death” (Proverbs 14:12 and 16:25, NKJ).
One of the greatest evidences of our sin of living according to our own understanding has been our descent as a nation into mental illness. I don’t say this to denigrate or cast stones at any person suffering from mental illness. I believe there can be physiological abnormalities that result in emotional problems. People who were raised in dysfunctional homes suffer with depression and other emotional problems because their needs were not met as children. Those who suffered physical, emotional and mental abuse have much to overcome. In many ways we are reaping the consequences of generations of rejecting God and his ways all of which amounts to idolatry.
It is my desire to show that whole-heartedly seeking the Lord Jesus Christ, casting aside all idols (a process guided by the Holy Spirit) and trusting God to meet our deepest needs will result in our total deliverance from everything that oppresses us and will catapult us into a realm in God never before experienced by humankind. This is possible because we are living in the end times and God is preparing a Bride without spot or wrinkle for his Beloved Son. I as an individual cannot change the fact that our nation is under the judgment of God and that we are rapidly losing all our freedoms, but I can remove the idols from my own life and help others do the same in theirs.
I am homing in on mental illness as an example of the results of idolatry because it is something we may be able to overcome through our relationship with God. I minister daily to persons who were abused in families who were idolatrous just as literally as the nations of Canaan and the Israelites were. I’m talking about making their children pass through the fire to Molech which is human sacrifice and extreme child abuse. Many people in our nation secretly worship the Devil. Those who have suffered this abuse are often diagnosed as being mentally ill when in reality they are just horribly abused by their own families as well as others. This level of idolatry is extremely common in today’s world and even in the United States. In addition to this, many of us worship our stuff. The more we have, the more we want to buy. We worship many idols and God is not pleased.
I can’t change many of the external things that affect my life—the fact that nuclear weapons are aimed at major U.S. cities or the inevitability of the fall of our economy, for example—but I can achieve an inner state of peace and victory in Jesus Christ that will enable me to walk unscathed through any debacle that comes, even things that affect my physical body. As Deborah will show, God works from the inside out, from spirit and soul to body. Jesus died to redeem us completely and those of us totally committed to him in the end times will experience this.
Also, we need to be aware that the medical and psychological communities are quick to determine that emotional problems are physical in origin. This may not necessarily be true. For example, does a chemical imbalance cause depression or is there a chemical imbalance because a person was first depressed? Chemical imbalances seem to occur more often in people from dysfunctional families than in solid, loving homes where Christ reigns.
There can be no doubt that multitudes in today’s society are suffering from some sort of mental anguish, a fact easily validated by a 2011report from the Centers for Disease Control stating that 25% of Americans suffer from mental illness. http://www.cdc.gov/mentalhealthsurveillance/
This report is staggering, and these statistics are based solely on the reported cases. Think of all the people suffering from depression and other mental disorders who have never seen a mental health professional! Some have not been able to seek professional help because of the expense they would incur. Others are afraid to admit there is anything wrong—that if one seeks help from a therapist or psychiatrist, one is branded with a label of mental illness that could hinder one’s profession or open one to ridicule. Clearly something is wrong.