Bob Lake
Teacher at Pinecrest

“Thus saith the Lord, What iniquity have your fathers found in me, that they are gone far from me, and have walked after vanity, and are become vain?” Jeremiah 2:5

This is God’s question and plea with Israel, His people, that He led forth out of the land of Egypt, through the wilderness and into their land of inheritance. This word of prophecy was spoken by Jeremiah to a nation who, because of the waywardness of their hearts, formed in their minds a false image of God and worshipped that. This is called idolatry.

God’s hatred of idolatry is not directed primarily to the wood and stone structure made by man’s hands. More than that, He looks upon the false concepts of who He is, which are projected from the minds of man. A.W. Tozer defined idolatry as “the entertainment of thoughts about God that are unworthy of Him.”

In Hebrews chapter three the writer exhorts us not to follow after the example of unbelief, which caused many of the children of Israel to fall in the wilderness. God’s complaint with His people in verse ten is that they did not know His ways; and because of this they provoked Him with their complaining and murmuring. They developed wrong ideas about Him, and then began to fall into idolatry.

These things are given unto us as an example (1 Corinthians 10:11). The sins of Israel are also potentially our own. Let us not think that we as God’s people cannot fall into these same sins of idolatry. We must be careful not to question God and murmur against Him; not to find fault with His way in our lives.

If we would follow after God to know Him, we shall be brought through the “great and terrible wilderness” in order to prove us. He allows us in crisis to see our own hearts, that we might choose whether we will trust Him or whether we will develop a concept of Him that is not true.

We must accept all that the Word states concerning God’s character, and not misjudge Him because of our circumstances. When God declares Himself as the faithful, righteous judge, let us know and be persuaded that whatever He allows us to experience He is still who He says He is. This is the key to attaining that which God desired for Israel, that they should know Him in intimacy, even as Moses (Deuteronomy 34:10). Israel’s wilderness crisis was intended to produce a capacity for revelation in their hearts: but for many, it was a means of destruction because they saw Him as unfaithful and unjust. They accused God of having led them out of Egypt to destroy them. They murmured against Him, and questioned His integrity by seeking to discern wrong motives in His dealing with them. It was according to the response of their heart in the wilderness that they were either softened or hardened toward Him.

The condition of our heart is of the utmost importance. God is searching the earth for those to whom He can reveal all that He is. “For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him” (2 Chronicles 16:9). The perfect heart mentioned here is not necessarily one of a sinless nature. It has more to do with a perfect response to God. This heart is one that does not question or pout; instead it worships God for who His is and says “Amen” to all that He brings into its life.

“O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out” (Romans 11:33). Because God is infinite, so are His ways. God is not a man that can be discerned by another man. God is Spirit, perfect in all that He says, does and is. Instead of criticizing His ways, let us bow in worship to Him before whom the Host of Heaven rest not day and night “Crying Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord of Hosts.”

“And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life. Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen” (1 John 5:20, 21).