8 - The Desecration of the
God has provided Israel with the perfect plan
for a covenant relationship between Israel and himself. If Israel keeps
the covenant, God promises to grant perfect peace, harmony and safety
to Israel. As we know, this was not to be the case. The nation of
Israel was eventually conquered by other nations and taken into exile.
So what happened?
God is Holy, and all that belongs to God is
holy, or consecrated, meaning to be set apart for himself. We can be
certain, that whatever God has consecrated (made holy), Satan attempts
to desecrate (make unholy) including God's covenant, people, Torah and
Satan has used three methods to desecrate that
which has been consecrated. They are idolatry, legalism, and deception.
Satan has used idolatry to turn Israel away from God and his covenant
and bring them to the worship of other gods. Legalism is the keeping of
the covenant and Torah out of obligation rather than a heart's desire
to show love to God. Deception is used to change the intent or meaning
of the covenant and Torah so that the people believe that they are
keeping the covenant when in fact they are not.
In this chapter, we will look at how Satan has
used both idolatry and legalism in the First Covenant to desecrate
God's covenant. In a later chapter, when we get to the New Covenant, we
will look at how he uses deception.
Desecration of the Community
God commanded Israel to be holy. This
requires that Israel set themselves apart from the other nations by
following God's Torah.
They rejected his decrees and the covenant he had
made with their fathers and the warnings he had given them. They
followed worthless idols and themselves became worthless. They imitated
the nations around them although the LORD had ordered them, "Do not do
as they do," and they did the things the LORD had forbidden them to do.
(2 Kings 17:15)
God knew that if Israel mingled with the other
nations, they would eventually begin to adopt their pagan religion,
culture and gods. To prevent this, God gave his Torah to separate
Israel from the other nations. Israel disobeyed those boundaries set
forth in the Torah and mingled with the other nations, and consequently
became separated from God, instead. This desecration of the community
was brought about by the desecration of the Torah.
Desecration of the Torah
When Israel first arrived at Mount Sinai, God
spoke the 10 commandments to them. Shortly thereafter, God called Moses
up onto the mountain. While he is gone, Israel immediately turns away
from this Torah.
The people saw that Moses was so long in coming
down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron and said, "Come make
us gods who will go before us. (Exodus 32:1)
Within days of God telling Israel "You shall have no
other gods before me" (Exodus 20:3) and "You shall not make for
yourself an idol" (Exodus
20:4), we see Israel is turning away from God and
making an idol. We can see this same story repeated over and over again
throughout the entire First Covenant.
God is a just God requiring punishment for
disobedience, but on the other hand, God is a merciful God and forgives
their sins when they repent. Leviticus chapter 26 verses 3 through 45
give a detailed description of God's justice and mercy. I have
condensed this passage to demonstrate the grace that God shows to his
If you keep My commandments, I will walk among
you and be your God, and you shall be My people. But if you do not
observe all these commandments I will set My face against you, and you
shall be defeated by your enemies. If you do not obey Me, then, I will
punish you seven times more for your sins. But if you confess your
iniquity and the iniquity of your fathers, then I will remember My
Over and over again through the First Covenant
we see Israel breaking the covenant, then repenting and receiving
forgiveness from God. As this cycle continues, generation after
generation, we begin to see God's justice being poured out on
"It is because your fathers forsook me," declares
the LORD," and followed other gods and served and worshiped them. They
forsook me and did not keep my Torah. But you have behaved more
wickedly than your fathers. See how each of you is following the
stubbornness of his evil heart instead of obeying me. So I will throw
you out of this land". (Jeremiah 16:11-13)
By breaking the Torah, Israel has broken their
promise to obey God. This disobedience of the Torah brings about the
desecration of the covenant.
Desecration of the Covenant
The earth is defiled by its people; they
have disobeyed the laws, violated the statutes and broken the
everlasting covenant. (Isaiah 24:5)
"They have returned to the sins of their
forefathers, who refused to listen to my words. They have followed
other gods to serve them. Both the house of Israel and the house of
Judah have broken the covenant I made with their forefathers."
Israel's disobedience had come to such a level that
"I will bring on them a disaster they cannot
escape. Although they cry out to me, I will not listen to them".
Eventually Israel is conquered by other nations,
taken from their Promised Land, and have become captives in exile in
Desecration of the Holy Days
Within the body of the Torah, are the holy
days, which God commanded to be observed, the Sabbath and the yearly
Stop bringing meaningless offerings! Your incense
is detestable to me. New Moons, Sabbaths and convocations - I cannot
bear your evil assemblies. (Isaiah 1:13)
Hear this, you who trample the needy and do away
with the poor of the land, saying, "When will the New Moon be over that
we may sell grain, and the Sabbath be ended that we may market wheat?"
Skimping the measure, boosting the price and cheating with dishonest
scales. (Amos 8:4-5)
Here we see that the holy days were no longer being
kept out of love, but instead, out of a legalistic obligation. Israel
kept the Sabbath because they had to, but it appears that they despised
it and could not wait until the next day when they could do their work.
Even the work they performed was dishonest, and in violation of the
"Also I gave them my Sabbaths as a sign between
us, so they would know that I the LORD made them holy. "'Yet the people
of Israel rebelled against me in the desert. They did not follow my
decrees but rejected my laws - although the man who obeys them will
live by them - and they utterly desecrated my Sabbaths. So I said I
would pour out my wrath on them and destroy them in the desert. But for
the sake of my name I did what would keep it from being profaned in the
eyes of the nations in whose sight I had brought them out. Also with
uplifted hand I swore to them in the desert that I would not bring them
into the land I had given them - a land flowing with milk and honey,
most beautiful of all lands - because they rejected my laws and did not
follow my decrees and desecrated my Sabbaths. For their hearts were
devoted to their idols. Yet I looked on them with pity and did not
destroy them or put an end to them in the desert. I said to their
children in the desert, "Do not follow the statutes of your fathers or
keep their laws or defile yourselves with their idols. Keep my Sabbaths
holy, that they may be a sign between us. Then you will know that I am
the LORD your God. But the children rebelled against me: They did not
follow my decrees, they were not careful to keep my laws - although the
man who obeys them will live by them - and they desecrated my Sabbaths.
So I said I would pour out my wrath on them and spend my anger against
them in the desert. But I withheld my hand, and for the sake of my name
I did what would keep it from being profaned in the eyes of the nations
in whose sight I had brought them out. Also with uplifted hand I swore
to them in the desert that I would disperse them among the nations and
scatter them through the countries. Because they had not obeyed my laws
but had rejected my decrees and desecrated my Sabbaths, and their eyes
lusted after their fathers' idols. (Ezekiel 20:12)
We previously read that God told Israel to
put his Torah on their hearts. There are many examples in the First
Covenant of individuals who did place the Torah in their hearts, such
as King David and Elijah. God blessed these men for their obedience,
but Israel as a whole did not put the Torah on their hearts and the
results of this was very devastating to the nation of Israel.
Assembly Lives On
Even though the community sinned greatly
against God, there remained a group of Israelites who remained faithful
to God with a clean and pure heart. This group revered the covenant and
followed God's Torah. This minority is the remnant of Israel. This
remnant remained as the Holy Assembly. The Holy Assembly can never be
desecrated because, as we showed in chapter three, the word qahal
always refers to those who have a love for God and his covenant, and
keep his Torah and remains holy.
"I [the LORD] reserve seven thousand in Israel -
all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and all whose mouths have
not kissed him." (1 Kings 19: 18)
In that day the remnant of Israel, the survivors
of the house of Jacob, will no longer rely on him who struck them down
but will truly rely on the LORD, the Holy One of Israel. A remnant will
return, a remnant of Jacob will return to the Mighty God. (Isaiah
A remnant of people, set apart for God, always
remains of those who kept the Torah within their hearts, even when all
else within the nation have turned away from God. The First Covenant is
full of people who have remained faithful to God such as Obadiah,
Zechariah, Josiah and Daniel.
Even though God finally punished Israel for
their disobedient heart, his grace and mercy continues to be poured out
on Israel and, as we shall soon see, he will again forgive them of
their sins and renew his covenant with them.
- Satan uses idolatry, legalism and deception to
desecrate God's covenant, people and Torah.
- The community of Israel mingled with other
nations and began to adopt their pagan practices and gods.
- Israel's violation of the Torah caused their
removal from the Promised Land.
- Israel's observance of the Torah, Sabbath and
Feasts became legalistic.
- A remnant, the Holy Assembly, remained in the
nation of Israel.