“You shall have no other gods before me.” Exodus 20:3
One of the greatest stumbling blocks to B’ney Yosef’s (sons of Josef) restoration to become a people once again is forming a god or gods into our own image. Imposing our understanding on others and bowing ourselves to that understanding of YHWH is idolatry. We cast an image in our mind and call it YHWH. Truly, is this any different from our ancestors calling the golden calf YHWH? The molding of these images stands as one of the roots that contribute to our people’s inability to get along with one another. Before we get to the first commandment, an exhortation is laid before us to have no other gods before YHWH. The other day I had an epiphany about this very verse. I began to see that the casting of images of The Most High in our mind is at the heart of idolatry and creates the discord we often see in relationships. In our superior thinking, we believe we have the Elohim of Yisrael figured out. But, do we? Many times I hear among Hebrew roots believers what a blessing it will be to have a reconstituted nation again. An answer to the blessing of this reconstitution I frequently hear is that it will be a blessing to carry out the judgement of stoning once again. Does it come out that way when they say it? No, but behind their implication is just that! No one would directly say that it is a blessing to stone someone! How about the opportunity to love my neighbor as the first thing that comes to mind? If we were YHWH (I am glad that not a single one of us are!), we would have executed David, Bathsheba, and the baby! Do we really want to create our own version of Sharia law? As you ponder what I am saying, it is not that sin will go unpunished. It is to point out that humanity is way more harsh than our Elohim. Often, we are very harsh to other people and attempt to justify our judgments as if they are consistent with who YHWH is. Again, a clear example of casting an image (idol) in our mind which forms a picture of YHWH that is not consistent with Scripture. So what does Scripture have to say about who the Elohim of Yisrael is?
YHWH passed by before him, and proclaimed, “YHWH! YHWH, a merciful and gracious Elohim, slow to anger, and abundant in loving kindness and truth, 7 keeping loving kindness for thousands, forgiving iniquity and disobedience and sin; and that will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, and on the children’s children, on the third and on the fourth generation.” Exodus 34:6-7 (emphases added)
For YHWH your Elohim is a merciful Elohim. He will not fail you, neither destroy you, nor forget the covenant of your fathers which he swore to them. Deut./Devarim 4:31 (emphases added)
But you are a Elohim ready to pardon, gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abundant in loving kindness, and didn’t forsake them. Nehemiah 9:17 (emphases added)
“Nevertheless in your manifold mercies you did not make a full end of them, nor forsake them; for you are a gracious and merciful Elohim.” Nehemiah 9:31 (emphases added)
But He, being merciful, forgave iniquity, and didn’t destroy them. Yes, many times He turned His anger away, and didn’t stir up all his wrath. Teh./Psa 78:38 (emphases added)
But you, Adonai, are a merciful and gracious Elohim, slow to anger, and abundant in loving kindness and truth. Teh./Psa 86:15 & 103:8 also a similar verse in Teh. 145:8 (emphases added)
He has caused His wonderful works to be remembered. YHWH is gracious and merciful. He has given food to those who fear him. He always remembers his covenant. Teh./Psa. 111:5-6 (emphases added)
Go, and proclaim these words toward the north, and say, ‘Return, you backsliding Yisrael,’ says YHWH; ‘I will not look in anger on you; for I am merciful,’ says YHWH. ‘I will not keep anger forever. Yirmeyahu/Jeremiah 3:12 (emphases added)
I will not execute the fierceness of my anger. I will not return to destroy Ephraim: for I am Elohim, and not man; the Holy One in your midst; and I will not come in wrath. Hoshea 11:9 (emphases added)
Will we admit today that we have been casting idols/gods (false images of YHWH) into our own image and have entertained a spirit of idolatry? If we turn to Him and admit that we are guilty, we will be overwhelmed with how truly merciful and loving the nature of the Elohim of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob really is. I believe we will experience such a profound peace in our lives that those around us would be impacted in an amazing way! In fact, maybe we will become a recognizable people and a light to those around us.
Love and blessings to all Yisrael,
Tzefanyah ben Yochanon
Chazak Chazak v’nitchazek
Let us be strong, let us be strong and let us strengthen (encourage) one another!