A close examination of the Old Testament texts reveals a familiar pattern in the manner in which God deals with the nations. When God acts in judgment, He frequently judges the gods of the nation he is judging. One of the most prominent instances of this occurred in Exodus when God visited 10 plagues upon the gods of the Egyptians.
Ex. 12:12-13: “For I will go through the land of Egypt on that night, and will strike down all the first-born in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments – I am the LORD. (See also Ex. 18:10-11)
A few examples make the point:
- They worshipped the Nile; God turned it to blood.
- They worship Rah, the sun god; God covered the land with darkness.
- They worshipped Apis the bull and Hathor the cow goddess; their livestock died.
- They worshipped Heckt (represented by a frog); God filled the land with frogs.
- They worshipped insects and beetles; God sent an infestation of flies and insects.
- They worshipped Osiris, the lord of life; the first-born of Egypt was slain.
Elsewhere the Bible plainly states that the plagues were God’s judgment upon the idols of Egypt:
Num. 33:3-4: And they journeyed from Rameses in the first month, on the fifteenth day of the first month … while the Egyptians were burying all their first-born whom the LORD had struck down among them. The LORD had also executed judgments on their gods.
2 Sam. 7:22-24: “How great you are, O Sovereign LORD! There is no one like you, and there is no God but you … and who is like your people Israel-the one nation on earth that God went out to redeem as a people for himself, and to make a name for Himself, and to perform great and awesome wonders by driving out nations and their gods from before your people, whom you redeemed from Egypt?
Similar instances are seen with Dagon of the Philistines (1 Samuel 5:3); the gods of the Armeans (1 Kings 20:23); Baal in the days of Elijah (1 Kings 18); Marduk and Nebo, gods of the Babylonians (Isaiah 46:1ff).
This familiar theme in scripture seems to suggest a “modus operandi” for God’s judgment:
Jer. 43:12-13: He will set fire to the temples of the gods of Egypt; he will burn their temples and take their gods captive … he will demolish the sacred pillars and will burn down the temples of the gods of Egypt.
Jer. 46:25: The LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, says, “Behold, I am going to punish Amon of Thebes, and Pharaoh, and Egypt along with her gods and her kings, even Pharaoh and those who trust in him.
Zeph. 2:11: The LORD will be awesome to them when he destroys all the gods of the land. The nations on every shore will worship him, every one in its own land.
Isa. 19:1: An oracle concerning Egypt: See, the LORD rides on a swift cloud and is coming to Egypt. The idols of Egypt tremble before him, and the hearts of the Egyptians melt within them.
Paul teaches us that the Old Testament was written for our instruction:
Rom. 15:4: “For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”
1 Cor. 10:11: “Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.”
If God’s judgment follows the pattern of the past He will surely judge America’s gods.
Question: What is the principle deity of America?
Answer: His name is Mammon (money). In some circles Mammon has also become the chief deity of the church.
The true American idol – Mammon – is under great stress right now and is stumbling badly. Many Americans are trembling for their idol. The pressing question is this: Which of America’s gods might be next?
We may point to the sins of America and the gross abominations that are now a daily occurrence in our homeland, and ask how much longer will God tolerate the arrogance and perverseness of our nation? It is not a strange thought that God would judge America. The more perplexing question is, “Why has He not already done so?”
While grieving over our national sins, it would be easy to overlook an issue that is even more serious. What about the idols in the church? What about our personal idols? Will they be spared? We must not forget that when judgment begins, it begins at the house of God (Ezk. 9:2-6; 1 Peter 4:17).
God will not judge the nation’s idols and ignore our own. He will not topple the gods of this age and allow ours to remain standing.
Jer. 51:17-18: “Every man is senseless and without knowledge; every goldsmith is shamed by his idols. His images are a fraud; hey have no breath in them. They are worthless, the objects of mockery; when their judgment comes, they will perish.