10:14 Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.
Paul has spent this entire chapter giving examples of what went wrong in the wilderness between Egypt and Canaan. Egypt represents life before we ever knew God or chose to follow Him and Canaan represents heaven. The wilderness represents the struggle to leave Egypt behind and learn to trust God completely. After all the examples Paul declared that there is nothing that can tempt us to return to Egypt that God can't handle. Then he wraps it up with a one line conclusion: "Therefore my beloved, flee idolatry."
What does he mean? There were three specific examples he gave of what went wrong during the time in the wilderness: Murmuring, sexual immorality, and ingratitude. Is ingratitude a form of idolatry? Sexual immorality is idolatry too? Even complaining is idolatry? How? I thought idolatry was worshipping carved images and false gods?
Today we need to explore and understand the difference between fruit and the root. Let's take the example of the golden calf they built and the craziness that followed. How did that whole scenario begin? Moses was gone. Up to that point Moses had always been there. He was the leader in their eyes even though he was only following the pillar of cloud and fire. Already there was an element of idolatry. Moses was a god to them in a sense. His absence created at least two things. Insecurity for some and opportunity for others.
From the very beginning of the journey many were unhappy with the directions. There was an easier and faster route to Canaan. Why were they going the "wrong" way? This was the root. Do not lose sight of this fact. As the journey unfolded and they faced adversities you can imagine the thoughts of those who felt from the beginning that they had taken the wrong route: "None of this would be happening if we had gone the right way..."
So when Moses was gone a window of opportunity opened. Now they good get this ship steered in the right direction. They formed a coalition and went to Aaron to propose they make a new God to go before them. Did you see what happened. The golden calf was the fruit of their idolatry not the root. Idolatry in all its various forms is the desire to be in control and the insane belief that we can manage our life better than God can.
We complain about what He provides because we become convinced we'd be better off with something else. We pursue immoral relationships or straight up self-gratification because we think we know what we need for happiness better than God does. We ungratefully treat His provision because we "know" there is better.
That's how Satan got Eve in the very beginning. The illusion that outside the leadership of God there is more and better. That is the root of idolatry. We are worshipping ourselves. Paul says very succinctly that any time self rises up to murmur against God for any reason run hard and fast in the opposite direction. Trust Him. Follow Him. Wait out the storm. Time will reveal God knew exactly what we needed.
We are His beloved. Everything has a purpose and all things work together for our good when we choose to love God and follow His purpose for our lives.