See you not what they do in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem?…
This is frequently stated in the Bible. It must be the case from the very nature of the worship of false gods. It is a denial and robbery of the true God. But the description here given helps us to realize more completely the intense sinfulness of the worship of idols, because of the circumstances attending it.
I. AGGRAVATING CIRCUMSTANCES.
1. It was done publicly in the streets of Jerusalem and the cities of Judah. God was displaced from the land he had given. The place that was consecrated by the faith and worship of the saints and the ceaseless mercies of Jehovah is desecrated by the orgies and profanities of heathenism. The worship of the "queen of heaven" (the female representative - Astarte - of the nature principle, of which Baal is the male principle) could not but be public. As the Baal worshippers poured forth their libations to the sun-god in broad day, so the worshippers of the moon made no secret of their devotions. It was done literally and perforce "in the face of heaven." And celebrations of the most obscene description mingled with their sacrifices. Yet was there no shame.
2. It absorbed the attention and energies of the people. Here is a picture of a whole family, from the eldest to the least, occupied in tasks connected with the worship of Astarte. How different from the perfunctory or imperfect service rendered to Jehovah! No time was left for the true worship. And is it not just so today under new forms and conditions? The idolatry of pleasure, gain, ambition, personal and social ideals, - does it not absorb the minds and bodies of its devotees? How little time is left for Christian duty and sacrifice! How weary and useless are those faculties which are professedly placed at the service of God! Our life-work is too often in the market-place, in the forum of personal display and self-seeking, etc., instead of the service of Jesus and the house of God.
3. It involved the waste of the natural products of the land.
II. THE DELIBERATE INTENTION. There was not wanting this expressed defiance. The idea is that they would annoy and exasperate Jehovah with impunity to themselves, as mean natures delight in awakening the jealousy, etc., of others. In this way they showed how completely they misunderstood the relations of Jehovah with his world and his people, his command over the forces of nature, and his power of retaliation through the ordinary laws of nature.
III. ITS RECOMPENSE.
1. According to natural laws. Affecting, therefore, the objects they required for their sacrifices to Astarte, and cutting off the supplies requisite for man and beast.
2. To their own confusion. God will be unaffected; they themselves wilt be put to shame. The idolater and atheist are their own worst enemies.
3. Not to be escaped or ended. They are playing with fire. It will soon find its proper objects in themselves and their profaned offerings. Nor will they be able to quench that which they have kindled. So helpless will transgressors ever be. In the least of the calamities that they provoke upon themselves there is a beginning of penal fires and eternal miseries. - M.
Parallel VersesKJV: Seest thou not what they do in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem?
WEB: Don't you see what they do in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem?