When God’s first, everything else is right; that’s what the word “preeminent” in Colossians 1:18 means. He’s first, or, at least, He’s supposed to be. When we get God out of order—something else coming before Him in our lives—that’s when there’s trouble. But what about when there’s something in this world that we love ALONGSIDE God? That one’s tricky. That’s what I think about when I read about King Ahaz.
2 Kings 16:2, 10-16
2 Ahaz was twenty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem. And he did not do what was right in the eyes of the Lord his God, as his father David had done,
10 When King Ahaz went to Damascus to meet Tiglath-pileser king of Assyria, he saw the altar that was at Damascus. And King Ahaz sent to Uriah the priest a model of the altar, and its pattern, exact in all its details. 11 And Uriah the priest built the altar; in accordance with all that King Ahaz had sent from Damascus, so Uriah the priest made it, before King Ahaz arrived from Damascus. 12 And when the king came from Damascus, the king viewed the altar. Then the king drew near to the altar and went up on it 13 and burned his burnt offering and his grain offering and poured his drink offering and threw the blood of his peace offerings on the altar. 14 And the bronze altar that was before the Lord he removed from the front of the house, from the place between his altar and the house of the Lord, and put it on the north side of his altar. 15 And King Ahaz commanded Uriah the priest, saying, On the great altar burn the morning burnt offering and the evening grain offering and the king’s burnt offering and his grain offering, with the burnt offering of all the people of the land, and their grain offering and their drink offering. And throw on it all the blood of the burnt offering and all the blood of the sacrifice, but the bronze altar shall be for me to inquire by. 16 Uriah the priest did all this, as King Ahaz commanded.
King Ahaz was as wicked as they come. Believe me, I’m not attempting to spiritualize or redeem him in any way. If there’s anything to learn from him, it’s what NOT to do. King Ahaz removed the bronze altar of the LORD and put his fancy new altar in its place; then he put the bronze altar off to the side of his “great altar.” He wanted what he wanted with God on the side.
This world is good at making us feel like what we have isn’t enough, isn’t it? “You need THIS,” it says. “You’re missing out.” Is there anything in your life that you love alongside God? I’m not deriding loving one’s spouse or children; though, we can easily make them into idols in our lives. When our focus is loving God above all, all other relationships are made better. I’m also not saying that there’s anything wrong with having things or maintaining an enjoyable pastime. Idolatry, putting something else before God, is something that we readily condemn; however, we can easily justify something when we think of it as merely alongside God. The tricky thing about loving things in this world alongside God is that they have a way of becoming the main event, and just like wicked King Ahaz’s alter, they can push God off to the side. Is there anything in your life doing that? Well, ask yourself this: is there anything you’re pursuing more than Him?
OUCH! This one stings! You see, I can be given to impulse, and many times, when I discover an new interest, I develop wholehearted tunnel vision for a time. Then, when I finally come up for air, I painfully sense God saying, “Hi! Remember Me? I’m still here.” It’s then that I realize that my heart has been chasing something else more than the Savior. I have to give God control in that area. I have to let Him show me if I can enjoy whatever it is without it becoming greater than Him, or if I have to give it up for Him. That’s hard. But when I give it up to Him, I literally feel myself getting closer to Him, and it’s always worth it. Nothing in this world compares with him.
So, is God first and flowing over and through the rest of life’s pursuits? Or is there something competing with Him for your heart? God’s bronze altar was alongside Ahaz’s “great altar” but it wasn’t CENTER.
Beware loving something alongside God; “God AND” is still idolatry. The throne of our heart isn’t a two-seater. Only the Lord is worthy of being enthroned there.