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Trivial pursuits

One of the signs of our world’s fallenness can be seen is the way sin becomes centralized.  For example, take some of the sins that have to do with sexuality (promiscuity, cohabitation, the sexualization of everything, homosexuality, etc.).  All of this was at one time on the fringe of culture.  People who practiced these things stood out from the majority who didn’t and protested the presence of such behaviors. Then they became more common, more accepted, and fewer people bothered to say anything.  Finally, nobody notices them anymore because “everyone does it,” and those who think they’re wrong (whether they say anything or not), are viewed as being on the fringe!

All of this is present in the writer’s statement that Ahab “considered it trivial to commit the sins of Jeroboam,” (1 Kings 16:31).  Ahab was the sixth king after Jeroboam and ruled about forty years after he did.  While Solomon had introduced idolatry to his generation of Israelites (11:4ff), it was Jeroboam who institutionalized it.  In fact, he led Israel right back to the calf worship they fell into after leaving Egypt (compare Exodus 32:1-4 with 1 Kings 12:28).  There’s something terribly sad in that more than 500 years after God brought them out of Egypt, Israel is back to where they were in the wilderness. Then along comes Ahab who thinks nothing of doing all of things Jeroboam did because it has all become centralized now and for people who pay no mind to Jehovah (such as Ahab), it's just a starting place because "everyone does it."

The United States recently had an election where (among other things), two states voted to legalize marijuana.  The reason?  Money.  Enough people decided it was more important that we line our pockets than help others understand that drugs aren’t the answer and keep them off the path of addiction.  It wasn’t uncommon to hear people say things like, “Think of the revenue that will be raised through taxing marijuana for schools, roads, and other things.”  Similar arguments have been made in the past for gambling and now in many places it is not only legal --- it’s state sponsored!  And of course, in one state prostitution has been legalized under the same auspices.  As far as many are concerned, these are just trivial pursuits that society can make money off of.

I’ve never really understood the concept of a sin tax.  It’s like smoking enough cigarettes so you can win free exercise equipment.  Do we really think we’re going to build a better society on the backs of drugs, gambling, and prostitution? 

In the days of Ahab, Elijah challenged Israel to choose between Baal and Jehovah (1 Kings 18:21).  The silly, unsophisticated Israelites actually thought there might be something to the idea that the fertility god Baal controlled the rain. The nations around them seemed to think so.  It seems like somewhere the Christ mentioned something about choosing between God and money.  Of course, that was first century stuff --- we’re way too sophisticated to worship an idol.
Aren’t we?
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