The Consequences of Idolatry for Jew and Gentile

When an Evangelical Christian friend of ours passed away from COVID, I pondered what would become of his soul. Without realizing he was propagating idolatry, our now deceased friend had actively evangelized to others doing his best to get people to believe in and accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior. By all accounts, he was a “godly” guy. Subsequently, curiosity led me to research what the Hebrew Bible had to say about idolatry and potential consequences for both the apostate Jew and misinformed Gentile that perceives and worship Jesus as God.

What Is Idolatry?

According to the Bible, idolatry is defined as worshiping others, or other deities, or objects as if they are God (Exodus 20:2-4, 34:17).  It’s interesting that God or other Biblical authors acknowledge there are other deities, or other concepts believed to be deities (Exodus 15:11, 20:3-4; Psalm 96:5, 97:7, 135:5). In other words, the text acknowledges the fact that mankind struggles to focus on an invisible, infinite God and instead tends to fashion finite, visual being(s) and deem them God. Remember the golden calf incident?

Additionally, idolatry is likened to adultery and considered both an abomination and even identified as hating God (Exodus 34:15-16, Ezekiel 16:15-22; Psalm 81:9-16).

These passages, however, are directed towards ancient Israelites, which now are known as Jews.

Are Only Jews Prohibited from Worshiping Anything as God or All Humanity?

Just as God instructed Jews to not worship other gods early on in the Book of Exodus, God also gave the Egyptians in the same story the opportunity to repent from worshiping their plethora of false gods and to worship the One and Only True God instead. At one point, Pharoah repented and the LORD relented in the plague (Exodus 10:16-17). Unfortunately, Pharoah repeated old patterns and refused to let the Israelite people go to worship God. Through it all, however, God’s motive was to reveal Himself as the One True God to not just the Israelites, but the Egyptians as well. Consequently, many realized the gods they worshiped were false ones and chose to enjoin themselves with the Israelites and fled alongside them (Exodus 12:38). In other words, God’s mission and subsequent use of the plagues weren’t just to relieve and rescue the Israelites from oppression but was to also make His name and authority known to thousands so that they could intimately know God and how He defines covenant relationship with Him. Essentially, God removed them from bondage to a polytheistic culture so they could know the bond of Oneness. In light of this revelation, ponder the concept that Jesus’ statements of being one with the Father didn’t mean he is proclaiming himself as God or part of a godhead, rather Jesus conveyed the bond of covenant relationship with God- oneness. Hence, praying to God that others could also be one with God (John 17). If Jesus were saying he was God, then his prayer would mean he was praying others could also be God.

Through His prophets, God repeatedly stated He is it – there is no other nor will be.

Another similar opportunity of oneness with God was presented to the Ninevites, who were Gentiles, in other words, not Jewish for Ninevah was a populous capital city in the Assyrian Empire. Commissioned by God to deliver this important message, Jonah reluctantly arrived to warn the aggressive Ninevites to repent from their many sins, presumably including idolatry or there would be dire consequences (Book of Jonah). Unlike Pharoah, the Ninevites repented and God’s grace was given. He delighted in forgiving these Gentiles (non-Jews) just as God would have the Egyptians. While dwelling on God’s grace towards the Ninevites, notice no human needed to die for their sins, no blood needed to be shed, and yet, God forgave them. Tragically, the Ninevites must have reverted to their pagan tendencies because later the prophet Nahum warned of God’s judgment specifically for their idolatry (Nahum 1:1,14).

Interestingly, passages foretelling the future reveal idolatry, or worshiping anything but the One and Only God, will be forever banished from all the Earth, meaning for both Jew and Gentile (Zechariah 13:2, 14:9,16-21). It should be noted in Zechariah 14:16-21, in the future, the nations that choose not to worship God in the way He instructed, specifically by coming to the temple for the Feast of Trumpets/Sukkot, will suffer consequences. It’s interesting because that is one of the three holy holidays God taught the Israelites they must celebrate by coming to the temple. He did not command that to everybody, just Jews, and yet, in the future, everybody must participate regardless if they are a Jew or of the nations (Exodus 23:14-17, 34:18-23; Deuteronomy 16:1, 9-10, 13, 16-17). All of which validates the Israelites, or Jews, are chosen to lead the nations to God’s teachings found in Torah, which is referred to as “light” (Isaiah 42:6, 49:6; Psalm 119:105-106; Proverbs 6:23).

How Are Jews to Handle Idolatry?

  • Not to intermarry with those of another faith (Deuteronomy 7:3, 20:16-18; 1 Kings 11:1-2; Ezra 9)
  • To divorce those of another faith (those who worship other gods) (Ezra 10)
  • To tear down, destroy, toss out, remove all evidence of idols in one’s territory (Exodus 34:13; Isaiah 27:9)
  • To continue to lead in love as they guide other Jews and non-Jews to Torah’s teachings, which is God’s teachings of what He loves and hates; moreover, the faithful Jew uses God’s Torah, which means “teaching”, to teach others what love is and isn’t.

What Are the Consequences of Idolatry, If Any, for Jews & Gentiles?

Below is a list of the specific consequences for Jews, but to rephrase in a modern-day reality, Jews that worship Jesus (or any other god):

  • Cursed (Jeremiah 17:5)
  • Makes Jews/Israel vulnerable to physical attacks such as war and disease (sent by God as a means to discipline the Jews – Judges 8; Psalm 81:9-17; historical and Biblical siege of the Northern Kingdom by Assyria for their idolatry as well as siege of Southern Kingdom by the Babylonian Empire for doing the same. Both events were warned by the prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah)

For the Gentile, the Hebrew Bible details similar consequences:

  • Early death or destruction (Nahum 1:13)
  • Will become like the idols they worship – mute, blind, deaf, lifeless, no breath, (spiritually) dead (Psalm 135:15-18)

Moreover, for both the Jew or Gentile, or in broader terms, all of humanity, it does the following:

  • Idols of one’s heart cannot be hidden from God (Psalm 44:21-22; Ezekiel 14:1-11)
  • Vexes God prompting rebuke (Deuteronomy 32:19-24)
  • Makes God jealous (Exodus 34:15; Isaiah 42:8; 48:11)
  • Makes God angry (Psalm 106:34-46)
  • Activates TRUE prophets to advise otherwise/warn (Judges 8:7-10; Hence, prophets like Isaiah, Jeremiah, Jonah, and Nahum warning Jews and Gentiles of such destructive choices)
  • Cursed (Jeremiah 17:5)
  • Activates severe consequences such as fire, plagues, war, aggressive beasts (Ezekiel 14:12-23- Notice the language in verse 13 “if a land”, not specifically, the land of Israel so any land that worships another god, similar to what the future prophecy Zechariah 14:16-21 conveyed)

In conclusion, while digging through these passages, it became grossly evident to me that idolatry causes God pain, severs any hope of oneness with God, and produces significant consequences as God enforces His boundaries of love. It is too late for our deceased Christian friend, but perhaps the most recent plague of COVID and its many variants along with these compelling Scriptures could invoke repentant hearts as we cast down our idols and indeed make our hands clean.

Download these Scriptures to study this important topic for yourself.

3.20.2022

Always Have Been Saved By Grace

As one who has traversed Christian circles, “Saved by Grace” is a common phrase indicating one is saved by believing Jesus died for one’s sins and consequently, gets to experience G!d’s grace or forgiveness. In fact, I used to wear a hat proudly stating this very expression. After discerning more and more of G!d’s word, and upon realizing the fallacy in the Christian message of Jesus had to die for one’s sins in order to receive G!d’s grace, I discovered that we always have been saved by G!d’s grace if only we seek Him and His ways.

Earlier on in 2020, when I sought to prove Jesus is the Messiah using only the Hebrew Bible, I discovered the Hebrew or Jewish definition of salvation is different than the Christian version of being saved. You can read more about those details here in an article I penned called “What Is Salvation According to the Hebrew and Christian Bibles”. Moreover, I realized upon digging through the Tanakh (or what Christians refer to as the “Old” Testament), that G!d has always offered His love, grace, forgiveness, and mercy to those who genuinely seek Him and strive to obey Him. Inevitably, we will make mistakes, but all we have to do is authentically repent and try again. Look at King David’s sin of committing adultery and murdering the woman’s husband. Christians have been told only a blood sacrifice can atone for sins, but what did G!d say to David through the Prophet Samuel in 2 Samuel 12:13-14? G!d said He forgives David’s sins though there still will be consequences just as any good father would say to his disobedient child. Was there a blood sacrifice David had to make? Did he have to believe in a future Messiah? No. How about when the Prophet Jonah went to the Ninevites or Gentiles to warn them of G!d’s pending judgment should they not repent and turn to G!d. Where was their blood sacrifice for G!d’s grace and forgiveness?

Notice G!d was demonstrating grace way back when the Prophet Isaiah lived (circa 8 BCE – 7 BCE).

G!d’s Holy Scriptures never once say anyone needs to “believe” in a Messiah to be saved, much less that one will be coming to die for the world’s sins, which would be a hugely critical prophecy to reveal, don’t you think? If G!d does nothing without revealing it to His prophets first, according to Amos 3:7, then we can deduce, that the Christian doctrine of Jesus being the Messiah who just had to die for our sins also is nothing except a replica of various pagan concepts. If you are Christian just learning of this, I know your blood is probably boiling right about now as was mine. First, you are angry at the one who enlightens you on said truth, then you become angry towards Christianity for propagating such gross and offensive errors and mourn your deception. Soon afterward though, you encounter a wave of peace and the lifting of a huge burden of guilt and manipulation you had been unknowingly carrying for years believing your sin caused some innocent god-man to die for you. Eventually, you will be so grateful to G!d for opening your eyes and rescuing you from the popular idolatry of the church. As G!d’s Spirit whispered to me one day early in 2020, “You can mourn over the lies you once believed or you can rejoice you have finally been set free from them.

I encourage you, dear reader, to dig into the following Scriptures and ask yourself why would G!d need to send His son, Jesus, to die for one’s sins for forgiveness when these Scriptures clearly indicate G!d has been forgiving people well before (and still after) Jesus? Why would G!d instruct His child to be a human sacrifice when He instructed the Israelites to never sacrifice their children like the pagans do (see Leviticus 18:21, 20:3; Deuteronomy 12:29-32; 18:10; 2 Kings 3:27, 16:3, 17:17; 2 Chronicles 28:3, 33:6; Jeremiah 7:31; Psalm 106:35-38; Ezekiel 16:20-21 as some examples)? Why would G!d cause Jesus to die for another person’s sins when G!d specifically forbids such things in the law and prophets (see Deuteronomy 24:16; Ezekiel 18:1-32; 33:12-20; Jeremiah 31:29-30; Psalm 49:7)? Also, why does the famous “New Covenant” chapter state everyone will still be dying for their own sins in the new covenant (see Jeremiah 31:30)? Shouldn’t that be an opportune time to state no one will need to die for their sins because a Messiah will do so for them?

Below is a list of some passages that reveal many over the course of history always have been saved by G!d’s grace.

Please study the following passages and read my other articles:

  • Genesis 4:8-16 (G!d forgave and even protected Cain)
  • Exodus 30:15-16 (money not blood sacrifice)
  • Exodus 34:6-7
  • Leviticus 5:11-13 (flour used not blood sacrifice)
  • Numbers 16:46-47 (incense)
  • Numbers 31:48-52 (jewelry)
  • Deuteronomy 4:29-31
  • 1 Kings 8 & 2 Chronicles 6 (notice both Jews and Gentiles are forgiven even without a temple/sacrifices)
  • 2 Samuel 12 (G!d forgave King David w/o blood sacrifices)
  • Book of Jonah – Jonah 3:8-10 (How is it the Gentiles could get forgiveness without a blood sacrifice?)
  • Isaiah 1:11-17 (sacrifices & other obedience is phony without true repentance – doing good & just is what G!d wants)
  • Isaiah 27:9 (removal of idols atones)
  • Isaiah 42:6; 43:23-25; 44:22; 45:22,25 ; 49:10; 55:6-7
  • Isaiah 56: Notice even Gentiles/Foreigners who align themselves with G!d’s Covenant (i.e. keep Sabbath) are brought to Mount Zion one day and honored even more so than natural-born Jews for doing so.
  • Jeremiah 29:11-14; 31:3; 33:3,6-8,19-26; 50:4-5,20
  • Ezekiel 16:60-63; 18:19-32; 33:12-20; Chps 36-37
  • Micah 7:18-20
  • Hosea 14:2/3 (depending on Hebrew or Christian Bible you are using)
  • Daniel 4:24/27 (depending on Hebrew or Christian Bible you are using)
  • Lamentations 3:22-23
  • Psalms 24:3-6; 25:6-11; 30:5; 32:1,5; 34:22; 36:5,10; 51:1-4, 7-9 (really all of Psalm 51); 103; 119:132,155-156; 141:2; 145:17-20; 147:11
  • Proverbs 16:6; 21:3
  • Job 22:23
  • Why Jesus Didn’t Die For Your Sins
  • Why the New Testament Is Not the Inerrant Word of G!d

To download this list of Scriptures for your own studies.