Here is the reason we must keep our hearts from idols. There are associated with idols demons, and we dare not leave
a door open for the devil. Remember there was a heart relationship between Simon Peter and the Moshiach. This heart
relationship is what Satan was taking aim at when Satan sifted Peter like wheat
(see Lk 22). Above all guard your heart. Man looks on the outward appearance but
G-d looks on the heart. "May the meditations of my heart be acceptable in Thy
sight, O L-rd, my Strength and my Redeemer." May the unrighteous man forsake his
unrighteous thoughts. This is teshuva. The heart is the "real you," where your
besetting sins and generational "bad wood" has to be pruned away or sifted out
and exposed. Out of the heart proceed evil thoughts. Simon Peter hurt his Song
of Songs heart relationship with Moshiach and the text says that Moshiach
"looked at him." (Lk 22:61).
Simon's idol was Simon. At this point he loved his life too much. He had not yet
been perfected in love. He had taken the mikveh of repentance but his repentance
was not yet complete. Rav Shaul reminds the Corinthians that the Bnei Yisroel had had their
mikveh in the Red Sea but G-d was not pleased with many of them and their bodies were
strewn all over the wilderness. They started running the race like the New York City Marathon with a vast
crowd at the starting line. But when those same Bnei Yisroel should have crossed the finishing line
at the Jordan River, most of them had been tripped up by their idolatry and were nowhere to be found.
Their idolatry cost them more than they had reckoned. Their idolatry had cost them the Promised Land.
In the beginning, in the Garden of Eden, it was idolatry that exacted a terrible cost. It was in the Garden of Eden that the forbidden fruit became an idol because it was something desired yet forbidden.
That's what an idol is: something desired but forbidden, something desired that goes beyond what is written (1Cor 4:6 NIV), something desired that goes beyond what the Word allows. The last thing you think about every night before you go to sleep is your idol. That idol you are fixated on, that you think about every night before you go to sleep, is something desired yet forbidden. And in the Garden of Eden the price tag
on that forbidden fruit said simply: "Paradise." What a price to pay! It seemed so attractive at the time. That's the
way idols are. But afterwards they prove to be empty, vain, a delusion. An idol is NOTHING (1Cor 8:4; 10:19). That's the problem; you are WORSHIPPING it! When he was an old man, King David
hardly gave the old woman Bathsheba the time of day, but at the time she was dangled before
him as a satanic temptation, she seemed to him to be worth everything: he looked at her and he saw the sun,
the moon, and the stars. Idols are like that. They are deceptively attractive. Seemingly worth everything at the time; but later found to be empty, vain, a delusion, nothing.
Now let's factor in the jealous wrath of our Holy G-d. Suppose you were in a restaurant and ordered a cup of coffee and something and
your bill came to $6.00. Now you pull out a $20 bill, your last $20 and you go up to the cashier to pay your
check. What you don't know, however, is that the wiley cashier and your wicked waiter are ripping off customers
and splitting the "take." Their scheme goes like this: whenever a customer gives a $20 bill, the cashier shortchanges
the customer $10.00 by saying that the customer gave not $20.00 but $10.00 to pay for his coffee. Then
the crooked waiter comes to the aid of the cashier and it's their word against the customer. Later they split the
day's "take." Now you being an intelligent sort of coffee-drinker actually know about this New York "cashier" scheme and you are furious. You have been shortchanged and what belongs
to you has been given to fools. You are livid. You want to call the police. Now imagine how G-d feels. Here
He has given you the sun, the moon, and the stars. He has given you the very breath that you breathe.
He has even given you the sufferings of Moshiach to make korban kaparah for your nefesh. And you have
shortchanged G-d, giving the Glory that belongs to Him alone to "nothing" idols. And you do
this not sometimes but perennially, putting Him to the test, provoking His jealous Holy Wrath. Here you are, enraged because the cheating
cashier took what belongs to you and gave it to his "nothing" accomplice. And now are you really saying that you don't understand how G-d could be
angry when you take the Glory that belongs to Him and you shortchange Him and give it to your "nothing" idols, the idols you
muse about all day long and think about when you go to sleep and dream about and fixate on ad nauseum? Read the Book of Hosea and get angry and get this illustration cemented into your idolatrous brain.
Now let's return to the metaphor of a race. The idea of a race is to run so as to win.
Those idolaters who left Egypt with Moses were not running to win. They were not running to cross the finishing line at the Jordan River and enter the Promised Land.
Rav Shaul gives the secret of the victorious runner. He pummels his body and subdues it, lest he
himself should be disqualified. The besetting sin that weighed down the Bnei Yisroel in their
marathon race from the Red Sea to the Jordan river was idolatry. And this is the sin Rav Shaul
is preaching against in 1 and 2 Corinthians. He says to them, in effect: Don't you know how serious
idolatry is? Do you want to test the L-rd? Do you want to arouse His jealousy? Are you stronger
than the L-rd? Some of you are sick and some have fallen asleep. I myself had a problem with
pride and that idol threw me on a sick bed. Do you want a thorn in the flesh? Do you want to be
sick? Do you want to test the L-rd to see if He means business about the Second Commandment?
When you have an idol and you think you are playing a little game by bringing your idol secretly into the House of the L-rd, the
only person you are fooling is yourself, because the L-rd and his prophets see the idol in your heart. Moab was a land of idols
and Orpah went back to her idols, but her sister Ruth clung to the G-d of Israel and found "menuchah" (a place of rest) for her
spirit. Rav Shaul said (2Cor 2:13) that he had no menuchah for his spirit because he could not find his brother. This place of rest
menuchah fellowship is what we have with one another when we walk in the light as Moshiach is in the light. But when we bring
an idol into the Temple we destroy that. Today we have many Orpah's who bring their Moab idols into the House of G-d. Rav
Shaul warns, if you try to destroy G-d house, G-d will destroy you. You can make an idol out of anything. In Corinth there
was a man who actually tried to make an idol out of his father's wife, making her his lover! But nothing like that can hide from the eye of the L-rd
or from the eye of his prophets. When the idolater comes into a congregation of prophets, the idolater's heart is laid bare, the
idolatrous secrets of his heart are revealed, and he has little choice than to repent. When a person calls himself a brother but is
carrying a concealed idol, he is like Mohammed Ata going through security to board the 9-11 passenger jet. The other passengers
are boarding the plane to make a journey; but he has no probity, no honesty, no integrity. He is boarding to commit mass
murder. If any idolater will not forsake his idolatry and destroys G-d's temple, G-d will destroy him. You see, your mistake is that you think becoming born twice and sanctified is a low-priority
or no-priority decision. What you don't understand is that your idolatry is destructive. It is like Mohammed Ata's boxcutter.
You are double-hearted and halting between two opinions and trying to board with the believers, but at the same time you are concealing your boxcutter idol
and taking it onboard with you. What you don't understand is that it took the
Exile to deliver Israel from her idols. What horrendous thing will it take
to deliver you from yours?
Now let's return to Simon Peter and his heart relationship with Moshiach beclouded by an idol.
When the rooster crowed he had not held fast to faith and a good conscience. Notice Simon Peter had confessed the L-rd at Caesarea Philippi and in some sense
was a believer, but Satan was sifting him. Listen! We have to keep ourselves in the love
of the L-rd and this means reckoning ourselves dead to our flesh and resistantly turning from
Satan who sifts our flesh. And this is part of repentance.
When did you acquire this idol? Was it before you became a teenager? Sometimes a teenage "Samson" begins his young
adulthood with rebellion in his heart toward his parents and a sexual idol in his heart. The Second Commandment has to
do with elohim
acherim, "other g-ds" or idols. Our Moshiach, the Bar Enosh of the Atik Yomin,
the Moshiach Ben Dovid, is
not an idol. An idol is an
accursed thing. An idol brings
a curse. "Little
children, keep yourself from idols." This is found in the
last verse of 1Yn, and it has to do with the fact that Hashem is a jealous
G-d. The Torah says to bring no other g-ds before His face, unless you
want to excite His holy anger. If you like living with all your property
in the bulging kerchief at the end of a hobo's stick, go ahead: put the
L-rd to the test. Israel did that. They knew the verse in the Torah that
warns about the curse of idolatry and being "plucked from off the holy
land" (Deut.28:63). Jeremiah warned them. They wouldn't listen. They had
to learn the hard way. Look what Ezekiel says in Ezek 12:1-3.
One of the devices of the devil is illustrated by
Diotrephes in 3Yn 9.
Diotrephes was the senior Zaken (Elder) in his kehillah. So he was already
"first," in a sense. But that was not the problem. The problem was that he
LOVED to be first. The problem was that he made an IDOL out of being
first. And he chose THAT IDOL in preference to Moshiach who spoke to
Diotrephes through Moshiach's Shliach Yochanan. The rich young ruler chose
his "many possessions", to which he had an idolatrous attachment, and he
made that choice in preference to Moshiach. In Corinth their pride
deceived the members into proudly contending that their religious heroes
were "first", each member claiming a certain prideful preference to one or
the other (Apollos, Cephas, Paul, etc). But Paul corrects this idolatry.
ALL THINGS are yours: Apollos is yours, Cephas is yours, Paul is yours.
You don't have to make a divisive and wrath- provoking idol out of them,
you don't have to fight for them, they ALREADY belong to you. Diotrephes,
you don't have to idolize being first, you are ALREADY first. G-d did that
for you. He made you an elder. Give him the praise! But Satan trips us up
as we strive in a prideful, idolatrous way for the thing that G-d has
already given us!
Shaul's letter to the Corinthians, he sets before them the divine maxim,
"Let everything be done decently and in order (1C 14:40)." The elite
"movers and shakers" in the kehillah were callous toward those new
believers who were demonically tempted to fall back into idolatry. The
self-important elite apparently had their own idols, however. Rav Shaul
had to remind these arrogant ones that Moshiach died for the new
believers, and if they selfishly used their "freedom" to create a
temptation that would make the new believers stumble back into idolatrous
destruction, then that "freedom" of the "elite" would be a sin against
Moshiach himself, and the self-serving idolatrous elite might find
themselves also destroyed in the wilderness.
Today we have many congregations
like the one at Corinth. No Sunday night service anymore. No Wednesday night prayer meeting.
No early morning prayer. Just a short sermon, people looking at their watches,
then everyone hurries off to their idols. Apparently those claiming
"knowledge" in Corinth did not know that the assembly of the kehillah is an affair of
eschatological seriousness. Gan Gat Shmanim (Garden of Gethsemene) is a
paradigm of the assembly and its eschatological seriousness. The
salvation of the whole creation was hanging in the balance in that garden
prayer meeting. From the point of view of the congregants, the spirit was
willing, but the flesh was weak; yet angels were also in attendance (Lu
22:43; also 1Co 11:10). At such a serious assembly, where eternal souls
are hanging in the balance, no one should use their freedom to disturb
Moshiach's order or to put a stumbling block of
darkness before a weaker brother. For example, in the early kehillah,
men and women wore the same kind of "himation" or outer robe, but the
women who were mature believers did not want to allow their arrousingly
volupuous long beautiful hair to create a stumbling block temptation of
lust in front of anyone, so they properly pulled the himation over their
heads to veil this asset of their beauty. Even the single women were thus
signaling to all that their proper bridegroom was Moshiach (1Ti 5:11).
Since many women do not have male-pattern baldness but thick and
fast-growing hair, even nature concurs that a woman's hair is her glory,
but she should not use her freedom to cause a stumbling block for someone
for whom Moshiach died. In the early Messianic shul, the women and men sat
in separate seating arrangements, so disorderly and unspiritual speech
(wives calling out to their husbands who were seated apart from them) was
discouraged. Indeed, when Philip's virgin daughters prophesied, one can be
sure that these matters of decorum were respected. What is the point of
all this? Self-important and disorderly idolaters though once saved in
Egypt were afterwards destroyed in the wilderness, and Rav Shaul warns the
"movers and shakers" in Corinth that this could happen to them, as well.
(On this see Yd 1:5; 1Co chp 10 and compare Ro 11:20-21.)
time we get to 2
Corinthians chp 11 we see that Satan wants to corrupt and ruin by
means of Bible-opposing
"knowledge," the so called "deeper things of Satan." Instead of
staying with the Word that was preached, the temptation of the Corinthians
was to "go beyond what was written" and to be seduced by extra-Biblical
knowledge (see Gen
3:5). Notice that Eve's "Bible" only has one verse in it. The verse in
her "Bible" warns that death will be the result of getting her "knowledge"
of good and evil from a certain lethal tree rather than from the "Bible"
she has been given where the meager content of one verse will nevertheless
tell her how to live and not die. But in the hands of the evil Serpent
this "Bible" can be twisted and used to deceive her so that she hands
herself over to a rival authority, a Bible-opposing authority, with fatal
results. Anything that rivals and opposes G-d is an idol, and in the Book
of Revelation we see that the believers will give up their lives as
martyrs rather than compromise with the idolatrous religion and way of
life of the pagan society of the last days. It is fair to say that one
cannot be a believer unless one repents from all idolatry. Mt 19:22-26 is the story
about the call on an
idolater's life whose accursed idolatry,
whose preference for his "many possessions" over Moshiach, whose
adulterous, Judas-like betrayal that turns to the "love of other
things" (Mk 4:19) other
than the true Moshiach
--in a word--his idolatry, yes, his idolatry, cost him his eternal salvation. And so the
point is made that whoever tries to keep his idolatrous life will lose it.