(NOTE: This sermon series and devotional series is based on a book by Tim Keller entitled, Counterfeit Gods.
You may choose to download or purchase the book as a supplement to your worship and devotional emails.)
Genesis 31:19;34-35 When Laban had gone to shear his sheep, Rachel stole her father’s household gods. …34 Now Rachel had taken the household gods and put them inside her camel’s saddle and was sitting on them. Laban searched through everything in the tent but found nothing.
35 Rachel said to her father, “Don’t be angry, my lord, that I cannot stand up in your presence; I’m having my period.” So he searched but could not find the household gods.
After Jacob had spent about 20 years working for his uncle Laban, Jacob left with his wives and children and headed back to his father Isaac. (You can read the full account in Genesis 28-32.) On the way out of the house Rachel grabbed the household gods and hid them in the bags she was carrying. These icons were probably cultic objects, perhaps still connected with the worship of Yahweh, but done improperly. Some suggest they were in the form of past family members used to communicate with the dead. Whatever they were, they were valuable to Laban and Rachel wanted to keep them.
When Laban pursued Jacob to find them, Jacob promised that if they were found on any of the family members, their life would be taken. Whether Rachel knew it or not, her life was on the line so she feigned her monthly period to sit on the bag holding the objects until Laban left. She hid her gods and didn’t want Laban or her husband Jacob to know about them.
There’s more to this account, but here’s the question: What gods are you hiding that you don’t want those closest to you to know about?
Perhaps you are not hiding them in a saddlebag and sitting on them so no one finds them, but perhaps they are hidden away in the recesses of your heart, hoping that no one will really find out. Even hoping that God won’t expose them to you.
The interesting thing about these “household gods” is this: 1) they were family gods…obviously perpetuated from generation to generation, b) they seem to be used in congruence with the worship of the true God, yet were a distraction or a deviation from true worship and c) they were valuable.
So, what are the idols in your life?
- Look at your family tree. Are there things that show up not only in your heart but in your family’s history that continue to distract you from a full worship of the true God?
- Look at the things you prioritize that you “justify” time with the Lord in worship, in prayer, in Bible reading that you think are “OK” to pursue in congruence with worship of the Lord, yet are a distraction or a deviation that move your trust somewhat from the Lord to this item or object.
- Look at what is valuable to you. What do you protect? What do you treasure? What do you freak out about if you lose it or it is a possibility you will lose it?
Perhaps there are idols in your “saddlebag” that you are sitting on that you hope no one will find.
God knows. That’s all that matters.
Consider these words of King David to his son Solomon:
“And you, my son Solomon, acknowledge the God of your father, and serve him with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind, for the Lord searches every heart and understands every desire and every thought” (1 Chronicles 28:9).
Rachel feared her father’s reaction if he would find her gods. Our Lord lovingly calls us to let go of the counterfeit gods because he knows the deception they create diminishes the blessing he desires to give.
It’s OK. Let go of the family gods, the “valuable” idols and allow the Lord to fill even more fully the void they leave.
Apply: Tim Keller in his book, Counterfeit Gods, suggests these questions to discern the idols in your heart. Ask yourself them. What do they reveal?
- What consumes my imagination, my heart, my passion?
- What, if I would lose it, would make my life hardly worth living?
- What do you spend your time, energy and resources on without much thinking about it?
- What do you depend on in life to give you significance?
- What do you depend on in life to give you security?
Prayer: Lord, expose every idol in my heart. Open my heart to let go of them and trust you fully. As you fill the void they leave, lead me to realize that what you give is far greater than anything I thought my idols would provide. AMEN.