“You shall not make idols for yourselves or erect an image or pillar, and you shall not set up a figured stone in your land to bow down to it, for I am the Lord your God. You shall keep my Sabbaths and reverence my sanctuary: I am the Lord. (Leviticus 26:1, 2 ESV)
Idol worship was something the ancient Israelites struggled with constantly. As they entered Canaan and sought to push out the nations that were in the land, they were continually being faced with cultures that worshiped idols. As a result, the cultural pressure to bow to these idols was often too much. Time after time they gave in to it. Hence, the oft repeated command to NOT make idols. The idols of our culture don’t come in the same form in terms of images or pillars to be bowed down to, but we have plenty of idols nonetheless. We bow down before money, power, pleasure, and popularity, among other things. We have no shortage of cultural idols.
For ancient Israel, and us, God provided a means of resisting that pressure; the Sabbath and the sanctuary. The Sabbath provided a rhythm to their lives that brought a covenantal context to everything they did. They ceased from their labor; from their planning and from their anxieties and were reminded that God is God. They remembered that all of creation is His and all they have – their freedom and their rich land – is a gift from His hand. And they stood in the Lord’s presence in the sanctuary, remembering the covenant promises that they would be His people and He would be their God. This weekly rhythm was key to resisting the constant cultural pressure of the disastrous death spiral of idolatry. In our day, the cultural pressure is the same and the remedy is the same, the rhythm of the Sabbath and the sanctuary. But the story we remember in the sanctuary is much fuller. We now know what the Old Testament types and shadows only pointed to. We know Jesus.
Lord, your are great and worthy to be praised. Worship of you is the supreme activity of our heart. thank you for the rhythm of the Sabbath and the sanctuary, that remind us of the gospel which outs life in its proper context. Help us to be faithful in keeping these. Help us to see them as your gift and your provision. Help us to understand the real danger of the cultural pressures of false gods that we might appreciate the provision of the Sabbath and the sanctuary that much more. Amen.