“You shall have no other gods before me.”
The worship of Idols was the prevailing sin of ancient Israel. It is no different today if one sees idolatry as it really is—a substitute for the Living God.
Naturally, when homage to the true God is rejected or neglected, a substitute will arise in the vacuum. The substitute for the true God is an idol. And an idol is a fraud. And fraud involves trickery.
A voice on the bare heights is heard:
The plaintive weeping of Israel’s children,
Because they have perverted their way,
They have forgotten the Lord their God.”
- Jeremiah 3:21 (NRSV)
It is sad to see and know those who live their whole lives for their own material success; for when they leave this world, they are nothing, have nothing and leave nothing of worth to their posterity except money and material possessions.
Vanity of vanities…
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Many American Jews today are not truly Jewish. They have not taken that narrow way of identifying with the Covenant People of the Law. They pick and choose the things they agree to in their observances.
Most of them have largely assimilated into the secular culture. They easily meld. Most do not talk at all about religious experience. They get nervous when discussing America's religious moorings. America has given them the option of disconnecting from their Judaism of the past and giving only a tip of the hat to the Judaism of today.
The Old Testament prophets bewailed such a situation:
Israel is swallowed up;
now they are among the nations
as a useless vessel…
-- Hosea 8:8 (NRSV)
American Jews today are increasingly saying “no” to Judaism and Jewishness. In a survey six years ago 32 percent of Jews born after 1980 defined themselves as “Jews of no religion,” compared with on only 7 percent born in 1914-27. Today, it would be even more.
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Young American Jews have a 70 percent rate of intermarriage with Gentiles. And they care nothing about belonging to a Jewish community.
American Judaism has become much less God-centered and more people-centered, according to Rabbi Mark Golub.
Jewish scholars acknowledge this. Yossi Klein Halevi of Shalem Institute in Jerusalem predicts that “Fifty years from now, the Jews will either become a God-centered people again or Judaism will be a dying faith….The God-centered faith of the Jewish past has scarcely survived the combined onslaught of the European Enlightenment, the Holocaust, Americanization, Soviet Communism, and secular Zionism. Today Jewishness is about peoplehood, ritual observance, Torah study, Zionism, defense against anti-Semitism--everything but God. Each of those facets of contemporary Jewish life is worthy in itself. None of them…necessarily involves a conscious relationship with God.” (Commentary, November 2015, p. 35.) This is particularly true of American Jews.
Jonathan Sacks, well-known as the chief rabbi of the British Hebrew congregations: “Today Jews have overachieved in every field except Judaism.” Commentary, Nov. 2015, p. 61.
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Is it wrong to accuse many of them of making Material Possessions their gods?.... houses, lands, automobiles, art, etc., and positions deserving of public respect? Are not political, educational and corporate positions a substitute for a covenant relationship with God?
Jews who only casually cling to their religion as a power that holds together and gives a bit of meaning to their existence—they will have to go deeper and ask themselves: “Is this belief and this ethical tradition (e. g. the Ten Commandments and Torah)—is this all just legendary, or is it based on solid ground?" They will have to take it seriously enough to study it.
Up to the present, most American Jews feel comfortable with secularism. They despise the constraints that they see in their Orthodox Jewish brethren and that which committed Christians live with….and they want nothing to do with them. Their comedians are amoral and many of their business people, too. They have an aversion to talk about prayer, faith and the religious life. I understand that and still feel compassion.
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I learned to know an older Jewish man in Sun City through a group fishing experience, and we became friends. At lunch one day he told me of his episodes with lymphoma. In one of his first episodes with the disease, he was lying in an Episcopalian hospital in Austin. The crucifix was on the opposite wall at which he stared all day. He finally blurted out his anguish (to Jesus) with the request: “Well, if you’re so good, why don’t you do something for me?”
There at lunch with scripture in front of me, I asked him, “Well, you did recover, didn’t you? Did you ever give thanks to Jesus for your renewed health?” He didn’t answer. I pressed him: “Didn’t you thank God?” (I wasn’t easy on him.) And he just laughed. He would revert to laughter or divert the discussion to other questions. He was funny. But he never gave thanks. His life was making money. Down to the very last days of his life he was working in real estate—buying and selling houses—buying, maintaining and selling. And then the lymphoma finally took him. AND I MOURNED.
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The prophet Isaiah speaks to Israel’s God:
“Behold, you were angry, and we sinned;
In our sins we have been a long time, and shall we be saved?
We have all become like one who is unclean,
And all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment.
We all fade like a leaf,
And our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.
There is no one who calls upon your name--
Who rouses himself to take hold of you;
For you have hidden your face from us,
And have made us melt in the hand of our iniquities.”
-- Isaiah 64:5-7 (ESV)
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Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.