The Last Dance, a recent ESPN documentary about Michael Jordan, has been captivating the quarantined in recent weeks. Following the story of Jordan’s superhuman drive to success, we have been reminded why every kid on a court since 1984 has wanted to “be like Mike.” While our enchantment with champions...
It was never my goal to become like one of the wicked Israelite kings in the Old Testament. However, I recently realized that I’m very similar to King Ahaziah, an Israelite king who reigned after his father, Ahab. His story showed me that I have become as reliant upon idols as he was.
Ahaziah’s story begins with Ahab’s death. After reigning for a short time, Ahaziah was injured by a fall. Instead of directing his concerns to God, he sent messengers to ask Baal-zebub if he would recover. But, instead of hearing from Baal-zebub that he would live, Ahaziah received word from Elijah that he would soon die.
Idols Tell Us What We Want to Hear
Clearly, the Old Testament king, Ahaziah, was seeking counsel from the wrong god. Instead of pursuing wisdom from the living God, he pursued wisdom from a soul-less deity. It appears that Ahaziah relied on Baal-zebub because he would provide the answer that Ahaziah wanted to hear: that he would not die from his injury and lose his throne.
This Old Testament king’s idolatry stemmed from his pride. He sought his own glory, but any glory he gained simply perished with him.
Even today, we fall into the same sin of idol-worship that Ahaziah did. Allowing idolatry into our lives comes from our desire for our own glory. However, seeking our own glory by chasing our idols will not fulfill us. We were not created to bring ourselves glory but to bring glory to Jesus Christ.
And this is what the Old Testament king and I have in common. I too look for answers from my idols, seeking my own glory. My idols were not named Baal-zebub, but they named something different that may be familiar to you as well:
“Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised” (Proverbs 31:30).
We try to achieve this by spending hours at the gym, having plastic surgery, or wearing fashionable clothes. It’s not necessarily wrong to experiment with new diets, dye your hair, or buy expensive jewelry. But to think these physical things bring the wisdom and counsel we can find in the Lord is foolish.
We try to achieve this by making lots of friends, gaining a large following on social media, or dating numerous people. We surround ourselves with popular people and follow the latest trends. They think it will bring added attention from others, as well as a boost for their self-esteem.
But God’s approval should be our primary focus, not others’ approval. In his letter to the Galatians, Paul asks, “For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ” (Galatians 1:10).
Promotions at work, getting good grades, or obtaining a prestigious career seem to promise a value and security. We want these things because they bring recognition from others as well as feelings of pride in our hard work.
But true success comes from a godly, faithful life devoted to Jesus’s righteousness, not from our accomplishments. Joshua told the Israelites:
This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. (Joshua 1:8)
Christ’s Glory Leads to Life
Sadly, we believe the lie that these three gods will fulfill us. We worship them because they falsely promise to give us glory. We think they will give us the answers we want, much like the Old Testament king, Ahaziah, did. But searching for life in these idols brings only unhappiness, unfulfilment, and death:
So he [Elijah] arose and went down.. to the king and said to him, “Thus says the Lord, ‘Because you have sent messengers to inquire of Baal-zebub… therefore you shall not come down from the bed to which you have gone up, but you shall surely die.’” So he died according to the word of the Lord that Elijah had spoken. (2 Kings 1:15-17)
The truth we all must realize is that Christ alone deserves glory for the work he has accomplished in our hearts and lives. We should strive to honor him for the sole reason that he is Lord, and he sacrificed himself on the cross to redeem us. He left his glory in heaven to give us life there for eternity.
Yes, we naturally desire beauty, popularity, and success because these things may bring us glory; but that glory is temporary. Seeking our own glory by chasing our idols will not fulfill us because we were not designed to bring ourselves glory but to bring glory to Jesus Christ. We cannot ignore this truth in our lives. After all, this principle is woven throughout Scripture, even in the Old Testament king’s, Ahaziah’s, story.
Though Ahaziah’s pursuance of personal glory led to death, our pursuance of Christ’s glory leads to life.