March 25, 2018

Adult Bible Study Online

A current connection to each week's session


Keep My Statutes and Ordinances
2 Chronicles 7:11-22

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Today’s passage comes very close to the heart of the matter—what the Lord clearly requires of King Solomon and Israel.

In pop culture, we commonly refer to karma—“the force created by a person’s actions that . . . causes good or bad things to happen.”[1] In the Hebrew scriptures, however, it is a person who rewards and/or punishes: “Because they have forsaken the Lord . . . that is why he brought all this disaster on them” (v. 22).

This manner of thinking may not immediately touch a responsive chord today. It seems less familiar than police court justice: “You do the crime, you do the time!”

If we consider this more spiritually, we may conclude that pride is the greatest offense against God. But many biblical passages suggest that idolatry is at the root of evil. Even “the love of money” (1 Timothy 6:10) could be called idolatry.

In Psalm 51, King David confesses to God: “Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight (v. 4a). “Wait a minute,” we might say. “What about Uriah and his companions, Bathsheba and her family, and David’s own family?” But David may have grasped a more essential principle, namely, that all sin is a turning away from God toward something else—something that appeals to us more strongly at that moment.

Applying the concept of idolatry to contemporary life may seem problematic at first. After all, we don’t actually set up idols in our living rooms. Or do we? If we listen to pop cultural language of rock stars, cultural icons, American Idol, Madonna, and the Fab Four, we can pick up that vibe. Indeed, mass culture is largely in the business of setting up and selling idols.

The role of advertising, promotions, and marketing tends to be overlooked. Actually, there is no shortage of other gods, including those who champion self-gratification, entitlement, empowerment, and self-actualization. Regarding the public arena then, we may ask whether anyone speaks as a counterpoise. Hmmm . . . maybe the chronicler is not so outmoded after all.

  • How would you define idolatry?
  • What problems does idolatry create in contemporary society?
  • Why is it so difficult to turn toward God as directed in verse 14?

—Kevin McCabe, Kmccabe57@hotmail.com

© 2018

1. www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/karma

Kevin McCabe is a writer, teacher, and poet. He was formerly an instructor in Classics at several universities, and has also been the author and editor of two books on Lucy Maud Montgomery and a number of works on the history and literature of the Niagara Peninsula. Kevin is a member of Grace Mennonite Church in St. Catharines where he lives with his wife and two daughters.

This article supplements Adult Bible Study, a quarterly Bible curriculum for adults. Adult Bible Study provides in-depth, challenging Bible study from an Anabaptist-Mennonite perspective, written by an intercultural group of pastors, teachers, professors, and leaders across Canada and the United States. Sessions include daily Bible readings, resources for additional study, and free downloadable resources.

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