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Sunday, September 16, 2018

Idolatry, Social Injustice and Religious Ritualism

  What the Prophets Said and Application to Today

This post is adapted from an essay required for BIB105 Old Testament Survey with Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia.  It has been edited for emphasis as it attempts to answer the questions below within a 750 to 1000 word word-count.

In what manner do the prophets speak to the following 3 issues: idolatry, social injustice, and religious ritualism? Cite examples of the prophets speaking to each of these issues. Knowing what the prophets had to say about these issues, what practical applications can be drawn from those teachings for today?

Through the centuries, the peoples and nations of the world including God’s chosen people have made images and idols for worship.  Though “all nations relate to God under the terms of the Noahic covenant established after the flood which stipulated that judgment would fall on those who practiced violence and bloodshed,”[1] they did as they pleased anyway.  They abused the poor, orphaned, widowed and needy.  Some nations were so cruel in their treatments of others that they were both hated and feared.  God’s people themselves had forgotten God in their hearts though they continued to ritualistically carry on their religious rites and exercises.  The prophets spoke to both God’s chosen people and the Gentiles.   

They spoke of many things but 
judgment to come on those who practice idolatry, social injustice and religious ritualism as introduced above 
is a common theme.  

In the Ten Commandments God made it clear that “You shall have no other God’s before me[2] and “You shall not make for yourself an image…. And bow down and worship it.”[3]  In spite of this, all throughout Jewish history we see the Jews walking in direct disobedience to these commandments.  Isaiah prophesied “As my hand seized the kingdoms of the idols, kingdoms whose images excelled those of Jerusalem and Samaria – shall I not deal with Jerusalem and her images as I dealt with Samaria and her idols?[4]  In 2 Kings chapter 17 it explains that the Assyrian exile of Samaria was God’s judgment on his people for turning from Him, worshipping other God’s and following the religious practices of the nations the Lord had driven out.[5] 
Proper care and concern for the poor, the orphaned, the widowed, and the needy were addressed in the Mosaic Law.  The wealthy were given the responsibility of care for them.  Instructions were given as to how they should be treated.  However, as God’s people turned their back on him, they turned their back also on those they were to care for.  The prophets called this social injustice. 
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