Verse: “They sacrificed to demons, not God, to gods they had not known…” Deuteronomy 32:17
This passage is a case of disobedience and the worshiping of idols on Israel’s behalf. Moses had begun to hand over the reins of leadership to Joshua. “Be strong and courageous…” (Deuteronomy 31:7), he encouraged the young warrior. The Covenant made with God’s people was to be preserved for the future generations. Yet the Israelites soon committed adultery with foreign gods (Deuteronomy 31:15-16), causing great troubles amongst their selves.
Chapter 32 begins with Moses’ prayer that “Israel would not be like the hardened and thorny soils of Jesus’ parable” discovered in Mark 4:1-9, (HCSB Study Bible). “This parable depicts the teaching of the Gospel throughout the world and various responses of people to it. Some will reject it; some will accept it for a brief time but then fall away; yet some will believe and will lead others to believe.” (John MacArthur Study Bible)
Obedience is one cornerstone in the Christian faith. “For I am the Lord your God. Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am holy,” Leviticus 11:44. This quest of holiness is also a playground for Satan and his cronies to scurry. “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the Devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour,” 1 Peter 5:8. He enjoys nothing more than to see Christians fall flat on their faces- only to whisper in our ears “Epic fail loser.”
Yet despite this difficulty one of the primary themes of Leviticus was to teach people how to obediently live for God the Father, with sanctified lives. “Through dietary laws and rituals, God is teaching them the reality of living His way in everything. They are being taught to obey God in every seemingly mundane area of life, so as to learn how crucial obedience is. Sacrifices, rituals, diet, and even clothing and cooking are all carefully ordered by God to teach them that they are to live differently from everyone else. This is to be an external illustration for the separation from sin in their hearts.” (John MacArthur Study Bible)
In Deuteronomy 32:17 God’s people began worshiping demons. The Hebrew word used is translated Devil. Some theologians have referenced this text with the fallen angels who followed Lucifer out of Heaven, because of the pagan rituals of this time. Either way, these practices were spiritual dark- the epitome of evil.
While this example seems extreme, Christians today are equally as guilty. Our society idolizes self, status, technology, money, sex, and greed. Have you ever compared the number of times you check your iPhone within a day to the number of times you check your Bible within a day? Trust me the results are scary for all of us. We often place a premium on possessions more so than our own relationship with the Lord. Even within the Church, many simply prefer to appear busy rather than authentically walking with Jesus Christ.
Ultimately, God wanted His children to live with obediently surrendered hearts in the Book of Leviticus. Yet Jesus came because their standard of holiness would never satisfy the demands of God. Just as it is today, achieving holiness on our own is an impossibility. Only by the blood of Jesus Christ is this made possible.
Very few people actually make sacrifices to pagan gods these days- though individuals as such do still exist. Nevertheless, we deny Jesus Christ by our words, actions, and lack of time given to Him. In the 21st Century we make sacrifices to demonic gods in our own unique and subtle way. Except the gods we idolize are glamorized with bells and whistles. A spiritual warfare is occurring within our everyday routines.
As Christ Followers we have the liberty to stand right back up when we fall flat on our faces. But this is true only because Jesus died for our sins and overcame the grave (1 Corinthians 15). Not as a result of our own sacredness. Put Jesus first today. Make Him priority #1. Live with a sanctified purpose.
Quote: “Man’s mind is like a store of idolatry and superstition; so much so that if a man believes his own mind it is certain that he will forsake God and forge some idol in his own brain.” John Calvin
Additional Readings: Isaiah 13, Mark 4:1-9, Ephesians 6: 10-20
Prayer: Father God, forgive me for placing idols before You. I pray that today I make Jesus Christ number One in my life. I can only be holy through the Blood of Christ Jesus. Nothing in me can accomplish this task. Show me how to live with a surrendered heart- one that obediently follows You. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.