Idolatry, Injustice, Immorality and Independence
Four main evils characterise Israel and Judah during this period – but they are also, in many ways, the four main evils that have characterised the human race throughout our history.
- Idolatry - this is the first sin, and involves putting something or someone else in place of God. “For they also built for themselves high places and pillars and Asherim on every high hill and under every green tree” (1 Ki 14:23 etc). From here, three other besetting sins typically follow.
- Injustice – the idea of worshipping a god who did not judge injustices, since they were most likely unjust themselves, was very appealing to those who would oppress and trample the rights of others. This is the strongest theme in the prophetic words of Amos, some of Micah and some of Isaiah (especially chs 1-5).
- Immorality – idolatrous worship is often sexually promiscuous, with prostitution, cultic sex and fertility symbols frequently involved. Worshipping Yahweh involved monogamous fidelity.
- Independence – both Isaiah and Jeremiah denounce Israel and Judah for relying on other nations (Assyria, Egypt) to rescue them, rather than calling out to God for deliverance.
Intriguingly, in many ways, these remain the three key ways human beings fall into sin once we abandon God and start looking elsewhere for salvation, satisfaction and fulfilment:
- Idolising money leads to injustice – economic sin – as per a Marxist or Marxian view of humanity.
- Idolising sex leads to immorality – sexual sin – as per a Freudian view of humanity.
- Idolising power and pursuing independence – political sin – as per a Nietzschian view of humanity.
There is nothing new under the sun ...