Those who run after other gods will suffer more and more.
I will not pour out libations of blood to such gods
or take up their names on my lips.
- Psalm 16:4
Today’s passage paints a graphic image: worshippers making bloody sacrifices to their gods but failing to receive protection in exchange. Few things could seem less relevant to our lives on this Tuesday.
But the American gods call for sacrifices as well.
In the ancient world, Molech demanded the sacrifice of children; Ashtoreth demanded that her worshippers sacrifice their sexual boundaries to her; and Baal required people to make financial sacrifices to him in order to earn his favor. Let’s look at how those sacrifices show up today.
The sacrifice of children | The most common way this happens is when people sacrifice their relationship with their children in the name of career advancement or wealth accumulation. In our society, kids are often either pushed into the background or put on pedestals (where they aren’t allowed to actually be kids). Andy Crouch has excellent material on this in his book Playing God if you’re interested in reading more.
The sacrifice of sexual boundaries | In the name of pleasure and self-expression, many of us are tempted to abandon the boundaries God’s given us for sex. Infidelity, pornography, and lust reach out to grab us. We cross sexual lines thinking that a small sacrifice will lead to great rewards. But we’re deceived.
The sacrifice of wealth | We’re told “It takes money to make money” and “It’s better to use other people’s money” and “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” And so we overspend, dig ourselves deeply into debt, and project false images of success. We sacrifice wealth for comfort and success. But they both seem to slip farther away.
This is how it always is when we run after other gods. They make big promises if only we’ll worship them. They give us benefits in the short-term (sometimes). But over time these gods fail us. And we suffer more and more as a result of our bondage to them.
Where do you see yourself tempted to run after other gods? Which gods are most enticing to you? How can the Lord protect you from following those other gods?