From The Editor - Two Great Evils

By David M. McNabb

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God's word came against His people by the mouth of the prophet Jeremiah, saying, "For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water" (Jer. 2:13).

The sin of idolatry is a two-fold sin.  Idolatry transgresses the first two commandments given to Moses on Sinai: first, Jehovah is God, and Him only shall you serve; and second, you shall not make unto yourselves any idols to worship them.  While the two seem to describe the same event, and though they are inextricably linked, they remain two distinct transgressions.

Let us examine the relationship God had with Israel as He saw it.  In chapter 3 of Jeremiah, God cries out to His people, "They say, If a man put away his wife, and she go from him, and become another man's, shall he return unto her again? shall not that land be greatly polluted? but thou hast played the harlot with many lovers; yet return again to me, saith the Lord.  ...Turn, O backsliding children, saith the Lord; for I am married unto you..." (Jer. 3:1,14).

God likened His relationship with them to that of a man and his wife.  There may be many reasons whereby one spouse could refrain from intimacy with the other.  In such cases, the one from whom the other has withdrawn would be hurt, but could still seek ways to remedy the situation, and rekindle the flame.  If, however, while refraining from one's own spouse, that person were to be unfaithful, and engage in intimacy with another person, such an act would drastically change the dynamics of the situation.

This was God's complaint.  It would have been bad enough if Israel had merely forsaken the God that loved them, fought for them, nurtured them, and blessed them.  But far worse than that, they had "gone a whoring" after other gods: gods of wood and stone, after the imagination of their heart.  They had committed spiritual fornication!

Not only so, but by this act, they had rejected the true God, the fountain of living waters, the source of life and every good thing.  In His place, He says they had "hewn out cisterns."  Cisterns are not springs, they are vessels which produce nothing, but only hold what you put into them.  Worse still, God said that these gods were "broken cisterns," that cannot even hold what you put in them.  God was forsaken for a useless, good-for-nothing loser!

Today, God's people fit the same mold as those ancient people.  Forsaking the true, biblical God, they have fashioned a god in their own image, and claimed to continue the worship of the Almighty.  Professing believers worship the god of prosperity, the god of political power, the god of sexual pleasure, the god of self-gratification, and many other expressions of idolatry, all the while thinking they do so to the glory of Jehovah.

The result of such rebellion is clearly spelled out in Deut. 28:58-62, "If thou wilt not observe to do all the words of this law that are written in this book, that thou mayest fear this glorious and fearful name, THE LORD THY GOD; Then the Lord will make thy plagues wonderful, and the plagues of thy seed, even great plagues, and of long continuance, and sore sicknesses, and of long continuance. Moreover he will bring upon thee all the diseases of Egypt, which thou wast afraid of; and they shall cleave unto thee. Also every sickness, and every plague, which is not written in the book of this law, them will the Lord bring upon thee, until thou be destroyed. And ye shall be left few in number, whereas ye were as the stars of heaven for multitude; because thou wouldest not obey the voice of the Lord thy God."  This same fate which befell Israel when they dealt treacherously with the Lord God, will come upon this evil generation if they fail to repent.

God is pleading with us as He did with Israel, "Love me!  I am your God!  There is none like me!  No other god can do for you what I can!"  If we will but turn and pray, and confess before our great God, He will hear from heaven, forgive our sins, clothe us with a robe of righteousness, and gather us again unto Him.  Blessed be the Lord whose mercy endureth forever!

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