“Anyone who sacrifices to any god other than Adonai alone is to be completely destroyed.”-Exodus 22: (19) 20
What I love about God’s Law is that it is very pinpointed in exposing all of our tendencies to want to deceive or make excuses in order to get out of doing something we really don’t want to do.
We’re always trying to find loopholes to excuse our behavior in God’s eyes.
“Well, this isn’t really stealing because BLAH, BLAH, BLAH.”
“I’m not really committing adultery because BLAH BLAH BLAH.”
“Well, this isn’t really working on the Sabbath because BLAH BLAH BLAH”.
“This isn’t really idolatry because…insert your own ridiculous excuse here.”
The truth of the matter is, and we’ll see this time and again in Scriptures, the Israelites were always seeking loopholes and exceptions to God’s commandment against committing idolatry.
The Israelites liked their idolatry.
They wanted to keep their idolatrous practices and become like the surrounding the gentile world.
The Bible is filled to the brim with examples of Israel over and over again falling back into idol worship and then God having to send a prophet to steer them back onto the straight and narrow.
See, here’s what the problem was.
The Israelites denied that what they were doing was idolatry until God’s angry judgement fell upon them.
They were always making excuses (and we do too) that what they were doing, while it might have been close to idolatry, was not really idolatry.
And the biggest excuse that they used and that we all use is “Well, my heart is in the right place”.
This is the mother of all lame excuses we use to get out of obeying God’s clear command on a given matter.
Obviously, that excuse held little water with HASHEM.
He eventually killed thousands of Israelites for their idolatry and exiled them from the Holy Land.
What’s instructive about this command to never sacrifice to another god is that it is a direct extension of the command that Israel is to have no other gods before them.
This command was needed because some Israelites would offer up a sacrifice to a heathen god and then excuse such behavior by saying “Well, I’m not REALLY worshipping another god, I’m just offering a little animal sacrifice and that’s not quite the same thing as worshipping BLAH, BLAH, BLAH.”
From God’s perspective, WRONG!
Sacrifice was at the very heart of idolatry.
Therefore, from Adonai’s perspective, whoever sacrificed at the altar of a pagan god deserved to be utterly destroyed.