“But didn’t you drive out the priests of the Lord, the sons of Aaron, and the Levites, and make priests of your own as the peoples of other lands do?” 2 Ch. 13:9
The gods had been created, so the next things to be made for the so-called gods were mediums, the mediators between human and divine. Before they did all those things, the old priests had to be forsaken for the new ones to be established. So Jeroboam drove out all the priests of the Lord and the Levites from the land, lest they cause any confusion or cast any doubt on the newly minted gods.
The mediums were vital parts of the newly invented religion, for the will of the gods had to be communicated to the people, which was the main job of the newly appointed priests. Yet one question arises, though. How in the world would they find out what the will of the gods was?
It always started like this when the one who was going to be possessed by a god together with his medium was invited to my parents’ house to perform certain Taoist’s rituals: It always started with a slight tremor in the man’s feet, which was the initial sign of possession by a god, or a demon rather, and gradually he entirely lost his consciousness and started to speak in an unknown language, which sounded more like gibberish to me, and the medium began to do his translation. It was indeed a mysterious way of communication between the one worshipped and the worshippers. It might have appeared to be rather laughable to spectators, yet the ones who were involved in the whole thing seemed to take it quite seriously, as if the gods had in fact ascended in their midst.
Such was the foolishness performed by a group of unenlightened people and we have certainly moved far away from that nonsense, we may claim. Is it really so? I wonder. We may not be doing exactly the same thing as the people in my fishing village used to do in their god-creating business, but we are in essence doing the same thing if we investigate a little deeper.
Indeed, atheism is a new form of belief that many enlightened people have managed to create and, surely, along with it, many high priests of the new religion have also been anointed. This is what we Chinese people often say: “The soup has been changed, but the herbal medicine in it remains the same.” The difference between the advanced and the backward forms of idolatry doesn’t really matter to the evil one, as long as the spirit of it stays intact. By the same token, if secular materialism is a new form of religion and the almighty dollar is its god, then most of us are its priests who adhere to its values and advocate its practce.
What Jeroboam did wasn’t anything new, really. When the priests of the Lord are driven out from our lives, we must find something or someone to take their place. We either worship the Lord or something else, and by this we will ultimately be judged.