In a recent online discussion, a transgendered person claimed to have his own god that imposed upon him no obligation and only offered pleasure. He asked me if I could choose my god. I replied that we all have a choice, and the issue is to choose the true God, because we must live with the consequences of those choices.
With that, the conversation went no further.
We can make up a god if we want. We can live in an imaginary world of our own creation. But there will come a time when reality will come crashing in.
King Jeroboam II of Israel felt his pounding reality on the battlefield, in the hill country of Ephraim, as he faced faithful Judah, with 800,000 soldiers. King Abijah of Judah said to him:
Now look, God is with us as our leader. His priests are ready to blow the trumpets to signal the attack against you. You Israelites, don’t fight against the Lord God of your ancestors, for you will not win!
2 Chronicles 13.12 NET
The northern kingdom of Israel, once a part of God’s people, now comes up to war against Judah, the faithful tribe which upholds David’s line, worships the only God at his temple, and has Aaron’s descendants serving as priests.
Some today used to be a part of God’s people. But now they have followed other ideas — other gods, if you will. They actively oppose truth. They believe God’s people will be defeated. They may even have greater numbers, just as Abijah was outnumbered two to one.
They learned these ideas, these gods, from the religious neighbors around them, just as Israel worshiped the gods of the surrounding nations.
If history teaches us anything — and Scripture tells us we have much to learn from it, Romans 15.4; 1 Corinthians 10.1-13 — the great lesson to take to heart is this: Faithfulness to God is the decisive factor in victory.
It’s a lesson that runs all the way down to the book of Revelation. (Read Revelation 2.10, for example.) The God who is faithful to his people looks for people who are faithful to his covenant. But even if we are unfaithful, he will still hold to the terms of his covenant — to our detriment. This fact urges us even more to be faithful. “If we are unfaithful, he remains faithful, since he cannot deny himself” 2 Timothy 2.13.
In his speech to Jeroboam, Abijah mentioned faithfulness in terms of worship of God. Judah had the right priests of Aaron’s line, the right location at the temple, the right ritual of sacrifice and shewbread. Abijah said to Jeroboam, “Certainly we are observing the Lord our God’s regulations, but you have rejected him” v. 11c. The contrast between the two peoples was clear.
The Lord Jesus established a new worship of God for his church, requiring that it be “in spirit and in truth” John 4.24. It is that true and spiritual worship which orients God’s people in all they do. It defines them. It informs their holiness and their mission. This is why so many controversies surround Christians’ meetings and worship.
Those who can only see privileges and no obligations on the part of God’s people are like Jeroboam’s Israel. In the northern kingdom, anybody could be a priest. Their gods were idols. They had rejected the line of David. They were working against God’s purpose.
Today, women are preaching. Instruments blare in meetings. Feelings trump truth. The heart’s impulses and the body’s desires are gods. The times define the worship, not the truth of God’s word. They reject the authority of the Son of God. Their works fail to serve the kingdom of God.
Like Abijah and faithful Judah, God’s people must not shrink from the spiritual conflict of truth. Faithfulness will be rewarded. The Lord will answer the call for rescue. Christ is with his proclaimers of the Good News.
Just as “the men of Judah prevailed because they relied on the Lord God of their ancestors”, v. 18, and the power of Abijah grew, v. 21, our reliance on the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will reveal the rightness of his cause. This God is no human illusion, and the reality of his purpose will not crush the faithful, but raise them to eternal glory.