If asked, I’m not sure if I could list everything that’s in my yard. I’ve looked out the window so many times that there are some things I don’t even see or notice anymore. Things just start collecting, such as an empty flower pot or an overgrown plant, and sit there for a long time until they finally become part of the landscape.
That’s how it was for the Old Testament Israelites during the years after they entered the Promised Land of Canaan. They began to collect pagan objects and practicing the religious rituals of the Canaanite people. Some of the practices were so similar that they were carelessly incorporated into the worship of their God, Yahweh. It happened so easily over time that hardly anyone noticed!
The Canaanites dotted the countryside with tall poles representing the goddess, Asherah. It didn’t take long before Asherah poles were found at Hebrew households. When God looked down from Heaven, those were the first things to meet His eyes!
I wonder what God sees today? If our idols were in the form of Asherah poles, how many yards would be full of them? It’s easy to intermingle error and sinful customs into our relationship with God. It’s so convenient to seek happiness, blessings and peace from the same empty sources that the world seeks. To God, an idol is anything we elevate to a higher place in our lives than the place God holds. When we give to another what belongs only to God (devotion, faith, honor, obedience), or seek from another what only God can give (salvation, truth, comfort, strength), we have an idol in our lives.
God hates idolatry and anything that usurps His place in our lives. He does not want worship that is stained with lies or false teaching. Knowing this, several Hebrew kings eliminated the Asherah poles. But during the reign of the next king, the poles would “pop” up again! Yet God wanted them destroyed forever. They are empty of power and they divert His people’s attention from their relationship with Him.
“The high places, however, were not removed; the people continued to offer sacrifices and burn incense there.” 1 Kings 22:43, 2 Kings 12:3, 2 Kings 14:4, 2 Kings 15:4, 2 Kings 15:35
Check out your backyard
I checked out my backyard recently and was surprised to find several Asherah poles! I hate to say this, but like the Israelites, even after cutting them down over the years, new ones seem to pop up every once in a while!
Some things aren’t bad in and of themselves, but if we give them too much importance, they take a high place in our lives. Or we compromise on wrong things and begin to view them as being acceptable. We can ask ourselves the following question, “Am I submitting this person, situation or desire to God?” If I resist submitting it to God’s will, then it is an idol. Anything I hold higher than the truth of God’s Word becomes one of those high, distracting, powerless Asherah poles.
I know they’ll always exist in the yards of many people, but they have no place in the yard of a Christian. Once we cut them down, we must keep them down by honoring God and lifting Him to the highest place in our lives.
What’s in your backyard? Have you taken a good look lately?