Has any nation ever traded its gods for new ones,
even though they are not gods at all?
Yet my people have exchanged their glorious God
for worthless idols!
In that passage, God was speaking through the prophet Jeremiah and He challenged the people of Judah to name any nation that had ever switched gods. The Lord was saying to the people of Judah, “Your pagan neighbors are more firm and faithful to their false gods than you are to Me, the one and only true God.” Even though their gods were false gods, the pagans did not stray. They did not chase after other gods the way Judah and Israel did. God was not commending the pagan nations, to be sure. God’s intent was to shame the people of Judah so that they might turn away from idol worship and turn back to the one true God.
But the people of Judah felt no shame. They continued chasing after the false gods of their pagan neighbors just as the people of the northern kingdom of Israel had done scarcely a generation before. They exchanged the one true God for idols of wood and stone. Ironically, the nations of Judah and Israel sought after the gods of their pagan neighbors because they wanted to be just like their neighbors. Yet they were very much unlike their neighbors in this one very crucial area. The pagans remained true to their false gods while the Israelites, who had no cause to change their God, did not.
That raises a very important question for us in our time. Has America changed gods? Let’s look at that passage again, and let’s apply the question God asked Judah in the first part of the verse to modern day America.
Knowing that America was founded on Christian principles, has America traded the one true God for new gods? Has this country traded the one true God for…………worthless gods? Idol worship does not necessarily mean bowing before a carved or cast image, (though the book of Revelation does foretell of a time when that will happen again, just like in ancient times). We can be guilty of idol worship when we allow anything to occupy the place in our lives where God should be. That can take many forms. How many of you know someone who puts their careers ahead of everything else, even their own families? That’s a form of idolatry. Obsession with things like money, possessions, and hobbies (that’s right, hobbies) can become idolatry. Worshiping celebrities and athletes can also be a form of idol worship. They can become people’s gods. That’s not to say it’s wrong to have a hobby or cheer for a favorite team. There’s nothing wrong with any of that as long as God occupies the number one place in our hearts. But even our spouses and children can become idols if we put them above God. Idol worship is anything that displaces the one true God from His proper place in our lives, and replaces Him with something else.
But more and more in modern America, people are doing just that. They are putting something in the place where God should be. Look at some of the things people believe in today, in spite of what they’ve read in the Bible. They exchange the truth of God for the lies of a world system that tries to tell them that if they believe it, it must be true, so therefore it’s okay to believe it. One thing we hear of so often today is that God loves everyone just the way they are, so there’s no need to repent and turn to Christ. Yes, God does love us and accept us just the way we are. But He also loves us so much that He doesn’t want us to stay that way. He expects us to become less like the world and more like His Son as we grow in our faith. We also hear people who say, “The god I believe in would never send anyone to hell.” You know something? They’re exactly right, because that god does not exist. They exchanged the one true God for a god they’ve created in their minds. They embrace this notion that God is okay with whatever sin a person happens to indulge in. People can become so entrenched in beliefs that go against God’s word that those beliefs become like false gods.
Though they would be very quick to argue otherwise, even atheists have exchanged the true God for a false god. They argue that man is the measure of all things, or in other words, that man is all there is. They scoff at the idea of an intelligent creator, insisting that the universe just sort of created itself one day millions of years ago through some sort of evolutionary process or through some unexplained cosmic accident. The false god they worship is themselves because they claim to have all the answers about the origins of the universe and how life came to be.
People looking for “inner peace” or “spiritual contentment” have exchanged God for the false gods of non-Christian religions like Buddhism or some other eastern religion, hoping to find what can only be found in a relationship with Jesus Christ. Many others still have turned to what I call semi-Christian churches, which are churches that claim to be Christian churches but teach a watered down version of the gospel that replaces the truth of God’s word with theology based on what their congregations want to hear, a daisies and sunshine gospel. That too can become a form of idolatry. In his second letter to Timothy, Paul warned us about this: For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. This is more widespread in America than most of us would care to admit.
I did not mention the false gods of pride, ego, arrogance, drugs, alcohol, and lust and sex. I’ve only scratched the surface. So what happens if we keep going down this path? God will do to America what He did Judah and Israel. He will bring judgement. In fact, some say America is under judgement already and I’d find it hard to argue otherwise. We do know from Biblical history that God is patient, but His patience is not infinite. If this nation does not repent and turn from its false gods and back to the one true God, the rest of the world will say of America what was once said of Judah and Israel:
People from many nations will pass by this city and will ask one another, ‘Why has the Lord done such a thing to this great city?’ And the answer will be: ‘Because they have forsaken the covenant of the Lord their God and have worshiped and served other gods.”
America may very well be under judgement because we’re already asking the same question: What happened to this great country?