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Today's Little Lift

    by Jim Bullington

You Also Carried Sikkuth (Amos 5:26)
Date Posted: August 16, 2022

Grocery store phone conversations are, to say the least, interesting. On a number of occasions I have overheard portions of such one-ended conversations. One amazing thing about them is that the folks who are engaged in them act as though there is no one else in the world listening to accounts of their most personal (and even intimate) thoughts and actions. Just yesterday I overheard a young lady railing about a man who had wronged her terribly, but as I left earshot of her, she laid it all on the fact that he was a Pisces. Well this young lady was not the first (and won't be the last) to literally hitch her wagon to a star and be disappointed when things turn out in an unfavorable way.

Israel also hitched her wagon to a star (actually several stars), but the outcome was far less than what she had hoped for. Consider the following text written by Amos some 700 years after Israel was delivered from Egypt and the polytheistic (or pantheistic) culture that prevailed there: “I hate, I despise your feast days, And I do not savor your sacred assemblies. Though you offer Me burnt offerings and your grain offerings, I will not accept them, Nor will I regard your fattened peace offerings. Take away from Me the noise of your songs, For I will not hear the melody of your stringed instruments. But let justice run down like water, And righteousness like a mighty stream. Did you offer Me sacrifices and offerings In the wilderness forty years, O house of Israel? You also carried Sikkuth your king And Chiun, your idols, The star of your gods, Which you made for yourselves. Therefore I will send you into captivity beyond Damascus," Says the LORD, whose name is the God of hosts.” (Amos 5.21-27).

Notice that God's complaint was not merely that Israel worshiped these eastern-based deities, it was that they also offered Him sacrifices during the same time period! It would have been one thing had Israel completely turned their backs upon the LORD and followed after false gods, but it was quite another thing for them to claim to be following the ONE TRUE GOD while at the same time following other god's who were totally tolerant of one another! On the one hand, the LORD said, “You shall have no other gods,” while on the other hand their other gods said, “The more the merrier!” How in the name of all that is right and reasonable could people do such wrong and unreasonable things! Living two and one half millennia later, I guess it is easy for us to criticize the Israelites for their crass ignorance and even arrogance in trying to reconcile the irreconcilable. How wrong they were and how much more enlightened we are... NOT!!!

The God of the Bible has no equals; in fact, there is no one and no thing that even belongs in the same class as He! There are about 5500 different species of mammals (in other words, 5500 living things can be included under the heading of mammals). The rest of the world of living things can be (and is so classified by the principles of Taxonomy) similarly divided and subdivided. However, it the modern Taxonomist would entertain the idea of God, there would be no equals to Him, nor would there be any superiors; He would be in a class entirely by Himself! As a human being with some moral basis, I am disposed to either accept or reject these facts. I CANNOT be a believer in the Bible, and at the same time and in the same way, embrace the world's pluralistic concepts of god. Pardon an old southern cliché, but that dog just won't hunt!

If you want to carry Sikkuth (meaning any god you wish), that is well and good from a legal perspective. However, from a biblical (Judaeo-Christian) concept that is quite another thing. Like Joshua said, we must choose whom we will serve (Joshua 24.15). To refuse to choose is to choose; to choose multiple gods is to choose. “Our God is greater than all gods” (2 Chronicles 2.5), and His name is not Sikkuth!

Questions:

1. What was God's complaint about Israel and her spiritual allegiances?

2. What had God said or done to indicate that Israel was to have no other gods?

3. Is it possible to rationally embrace the God who claims to be exclusive while embracing gods who claim to be non-exclusive (pluralistic, pantheistic, polytheistic, etc.)? Explain your response.

4. In our country, is [absolute] right defined by law (think before you answer)?

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Biography Information:
Jim Bullington - A Christian writer whose insight into the scriptures is reflected in practical application lessons in every article. The reader will find that the Bible speaks directly to him/her through these articles. God is always exalted and His word is treated with the utmost respect in this column.
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