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Counterfeit Gods - Ch 2

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Intro
Group intro -
Scripture
Hear God speak, not self help or opinions
Scripture transforms us
It is the foundation for the other two
Prayer
Us speaking back to God
Acknowledging the truth of scripture
Community
The context that scripture and prayer are effective
Not just socializing - ministering the gospel to each other
Review
Studying Counterfeit Gods by Tim Keller
The topic is identifying and dealing with idols
It is good, but not required to read through the chapter and make notes and questions
But not required - I am not quizzing anyone and it will all be covered
Starting applications - but Keller is layering in lessons that apply to all idols
Last lesson
Dream come true can be the worst thing that can ever happen to us -
Abraham was the example studied Go had promised and then given him a son. But he was called to sacrifice him.
First meaning - Abraham needed a trial to refine his heart from idolizing his son
Second meaning - a substitute is needed - Isaac points to the death of Jesus
This Lesson
Is it weird that the first example is love?
We tend to think of scandalous things as idols - wealth, power, etc - see the front of the book
Remember sometimes the worst idols are the better things
Without a romantic relationship of some kind, even the wrong kind, their lives feel meaningless.
Story of Sally
Keller, T. (2011). Counterfeit Gods: The Empty Promises of Money, Sex, and Power, and the Only Hope that Matters (p. 23). New York: Riverhead Books.
At first she used her beauty to manipulate others, but eventually others used it to manipulate her. She came to feel that she was powerless and invisible unless some man was in love with her. She could not bear to be alone. As a result, she was willing to remain in relationships with men who were abusive.
Why did she endure such treatment? She had come to look to men for the kind of deep affirmation and acceptance that only God can provide. As a result, she became a slave to love.
Does this seem like a familiar story? Why would subject herself to this abuse?
She had come to look to men for the kind of deep affirmation and acceptance that only God can provide. As a result, she became a slave to love.
Why did she endure such treatment? She had come to look to men for the kind of deep affirmation and acceptance that only God can provide. As a result, she became a slave to love.
Keller, T. (2011). Counterfeit Gods: The Empty Promises of Money, Sex, and Power, and the Only Hope that Matters (p. 23). New York: Riverhead Books.
Read ,
Jacob & His Idol
Back story
Promise to Abraham is carried through Issac. Isaac marries and his wife Rebekah has twins.
God tells the family that the promise would unexpectedly go through the younger son - Jacob
Issac favors the older Esau, but Rebekah loves Jacob. Esau grew up proud, spoiled, willful, and impulsive, while Jacob grew up cynical and bitter.
Jacob steals the blessing by pretending to be Esau to his blind father Isaac, but everyone finds out and the family begins to implode. Jacob ends up running away to his mother’s family to keep from being killed by Esau.
Jacob & Laban’s family
Difference between the daughters
Rachel was lit. “beautiful in her figure and beautiful in her appearance” - the total package
Leah had “weak eyes”
Perhaps cross eyed
Or maybe a figure of speech saying she was not pleasant to look at.
Jacob was lovesick - Rachel became the only important thing to him
He is willing to work for seven years for Rachel, which was 4 times the going rate
But they seemed to him but a few days because of the love he had for her.
He was very blunt in his eagerness to get married to her
Give me my wife that I may go in to her
Even today that would be extremely forward
Keller, T. (2011). Counterfeit Gods: The Empty Promises of Money, Sex, and Power, and the Only Hope that Matters (p. 27). New York: Riverhead Books.
Why? Jacob’s life was empty. He never had his father’s love, he had lost his beloved mother’s love, and he certainly had no sense of God’s love and care. Then he beheld the most beautiful woman he had ever seen, and he must have said to himself, “If I had her, finally, something would be right in my miserable life. If I had her, it would fix things.” All the longings of his heart for meaning and affirmation were fixed on Rachel.
Keller, T. (2011). Counterfeit Gods: The Empty Promises of Money, Sex, and Power, and the Only Hope that Matters (p. 27). New York: Riverhead Books.
Making love an idol
Traditional idols
We idolize someone as the most important person in our life. We go beyond romance and seek a sense of meaning that used to come from faith in God
It is easy for us to hope that boyfriend or a wife will make us valuable or complete
Our culture teaches this idolatry in our music, movies, in how we talk about it to each other
But that expectation crushes the other person and leaves you empty
hookup idols
There is growing peer pressure to engage in sex and not get too emotionally involved... Once we get over our lingering Puritanism, the argument goes, sex will be no big deal.
But that is a different twist on another idol
Keller, T. (2011). Counterfeit Gods: The Empty Promises of Money, Sex, and Power, and the Only Hope that Matters (pp. 29–30). New York: Riverhead Books.
We may be worshipping beauty or pleasure
Or we may be idolizing ourselves by proving ourselves with each encounter
Or maybe we are bitter and afraid from past experiences
Even people who completely avoid romantic love out of bitterness or fear are actually being controlled by its power… if you are so afraid of love that you cannot have it, you are just as enslaved as if you must have it. The person who can’t have it will avoid people who would be wonderful partners. The person who must have it will choose partners who are ill-fitting to them or abusive. If you are too afraid of love or too enamored by it, it has assumed godlike power, distorting your perceptions and your life.
Keller, T. (2011). Counterfeit Gods: The Empty Promises of Money, Sex, and Power, and the Only Hope that Matters (p. 31). New York: Riverhead Books.
How does that strike you?
Important lesson - defining our life in opposition to an idol can be just as damaging
Keller, T. (2011). Counterfeit Gods: The Empty Promises of Money, Sex, and Power, and the Only Hope that Matters (p. 31). New York: Riverhead Books.
The person
The aftermath
Laban’s trick
Laban throughout the story is a little slick, a little manipulative
In this case he dodges giving Jacob a straight answer on marrying Rachel
He brings out his daughter as a bride - she is veiled
Jacob celebrates and drinks at the wedding reception
He sleeps with her and wakes up the next morning
Behold! - Twist!
It was Leah! The wrong daughter
Do not underestimate the shock of this
Jacob confronts his uncle, but by this point he is trapped
Laban gives him a flimsy excuse
Jacob has to work 7 more years for Rachel
Long term consequences
Broken family life
Jacob loved Rachel more than Leah
Favoritism in the family (wife and kids)
Rivalry between everyone
Mandrake story
Dont let anyone tell you that the Bible endorses patriarchal family structures - it clearly shows the problems that come from not following God’s design for the family
Jacob ends up continuing the broken family life he grew up in
Leah
She was inconvenient - she had to be married first, but no one wanted to marry her. This blocked Laban from profiting off of Rachel’s attractiveness.
Laban was able to solve his problem by his ruse, but it left Leah alone
The daughter whom her father did not want was now a wife whom her husband did not want.
She had grown up in her sisters shadow - and now had to live there for the rest of her life
the daughter whom her father did not want was now a wife whom her husband did not want.
So she turns to a relationship idol for hope
Keller, T. (2011). Counterfeit Gods: The Empty Promises of Money, Sex, and Power, and the Only Hope that Matters (p. 35). New York: Riverhead Books.
Leah’s relationship idol
Isaac and Jacob are not the only ones looking meaning in relationships
Searched for hope in love from Jacob
Name of first three sons
Reuben - “Look, a son” - Because the LORD has looked upon my affliction; for now my husband will love me.
Simeon - “heard” - Because the LORD has heard than I am hated, he has given me this son also.
Levi - “attached” - Now this time my husband will be attached to me, because I have have borne him three sons.
What was she doing? She was trying to find happiness and an identity through traditional family values. Having sons, especially in those days, was the best way to do that; but it was not working. She had set all of her hopes and dreams on her husband. “If I have babies and sons, then my husband will come to love me, and then finally my unhappy life will be fixed,” she thought. But instead, every birth pushed her down deeper into a hell of loneliness. Every single day she was condemned to see the man she most longed for in the arms of the one in whose shadow she had lived all of her life. Every day was like another knife in the heart.
Keller, T. (2011). Counterfeit Gods: The Empty Promises of Money, Sex, and Power, and the Only Hope that Matters (p. 36). New York: Riverhead Books.
Meaning
At this point the story is pretty depressing for us
Everyone is screwing up and everyone is in pain - What’s the point?
Where are the spiritual heroes? What’s the moral?
The reason for our confusion is that we usually read the Bible as a series of disconnected stories, each with a “moral” for how we should live our lives. It is not. Rather, it comprises a single story, telling us how the human race got into its present condition, and how God through Jesus Christ has come and will come to put things right. In other words, the Bible doesn’t give us a god at the top of a moral ladder saying, “If you try hard to summon up your strength and live right, you can make it up!” Instead, the Bible repeatedly shows us weak people who don’t deserve God’s grace, don’t seek it, and don’t appreciate it even after they have received it.
So what can we learn from it?
Keller, T. (2011). Counterfeit Gods: The Empty Promises of Money, Sex, and Power, and the Only Hope that Matters (pp. 36–37). New York: Riverhead Books.
2.5 things
Recognize idols where they exist
Realize idols are destructive and dont hold out hope
But recognizing and realizing is not enough to break free - that is the last thing to learn
Disillusionment
We put our hope in idols because we expect it to fulfill our deepest longings
We go to bed assuming it is Rachel, but we wake up with Leah
In fact it is always Leah, never Rachel
We hope that some job, spouse, house, or truck will be the thing that does the trick and satisfies us. But when we get that truck - we become disappointed
Four reactions to disappointment
Blame the thing and move on to a “better” option hoping that it will meet your need.
Blame yourself, you beat yourself up, and think something is wrong with you and feel shame
Blame the world and become cynical and hard
Lastly reorient your hope into something else
Breakthrough
4th son’s name
Judah - “Praise” - This time, I will praise the LORD
There was a defiance in that claim. It was a different declaration from the ones she had made after the other births. There was no mention of husband or child. It appears that finally, she had taken her heart’s deepest hopes off of her husband and her children, and had put them on the Lord. Jacob and Laban had stolen Leah’s life, but when she gave her heart finally to the Lord, she got her life back.
Instead of continuing her futile hope to make herself meaningful through her family, she centered her life on God, and it changed her life
Keller, T. (2011). Counterfeit Gods: The Empty Promises of Money, Sex, and Power, and the Only Hope that Matters (p. 43). New York: Riverhead Books.
The true bridegroom - the true lover
The true bridegroom - the true lover
God was saying, “I am the real bridegroom. I am the husband of the husbandless. I am the father of the fatherless.” ... The gods of moralistic religions favor the successful and the overachievers. They are the ones who climb the moral ladder up to heaven. But the God of the Bible is the one who comes down into this world to accomplish a salvation and give us a grace we could never attain ourselves. He loves the unwanted, the weak and unloved. He is not just a king and we are the subjects; … He is a husband and we are his spouse. He is ravished with us—even those of us whom no one else notices.
Keller, T. (2011). Counterfeit Gods: The Empty Promises of Money, Sex, and Power, and the Only Hope that Matters (p. 44). New York: Riverhead Books.
Important for singles or childless or lonely
You are not alone - you are loved
Jacob had a God who was waiting for him and would meet his heart’s desire
Important for married or parents or any other relationship
and those married
Your spouse or whoever cannot support the crushing weight of your divine expectations
Leah had a God who was waiting for him and would meet his heart’s desire
Not to love your relationship less, but know and love God more
How do we know God’s love this deeply?
The seed promise - The messiah
This child Judah will carry on the promise of the Messiah from Isaac and Jacob
Note that salvation does not come through popular Rachel, but unwanted Leah
This Messiah - Jesus - will be the full confirmation of God’s love
The unwanted man
Isaiah says He had no beauty that we should desire him.
John says He came into his own and his own did not receive him.
Why suffer this rejection? So we could be accepted
He paid for all of our sins when our lives look like Isaac’s and Jacob’s and Leah’s so that we are no longer separated by your sin
We are brought to our true Husband, Father, and family
Here is the secret - we must replace our “divine” loves
More than showing the faults of idols and hopeless
We must find a greater love, which detaches our hearts from idols, and respond in worship
We stop looking for saviors because we are already saved
Instead finding a greater love
Sarah
A counselor rightly identified that she had been looking to men for salvation, so she should get a career and become financially independent
“I was being advised to give up a common female idolatry and take on a common male idolatry, but I didn’t want to have my self-worth dependent on career success any more than on men. I wanted to be free.”
Your life is hidden with Christ in God … and when Christ who is your life appears, you will appear with him in glory
You may turn out to be a great guy, and maybe even my husband, but you cannot ever be my life. Only Christ is my life.
Keller, T. (2011). Counterfeit Gods: The Empty Promises of Money, Sex, and Power, and the Only Hope that Matters (p. 46). New York: Riverhead Books.
Keller, T. (2011). Counterfeit Gods: The Empty Promises of Money, Sex, and Power, and the Only Hope that Matters (p. 46). New York: Riverhead Books.
May we be able to say that to all the good things in our lives
Keller, T. (2011). Counterfeit Gods: The Empty Promises of Money, Sex, and Power, and the Only Hope that Matters (p. 47). New York: Riverhead Books.
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