Idolatry Topical Study

<p><strong><span class="heading-lg">Idolatry in Scripture</span></strong></p><ul><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="">Exodus 20:3-5</a>, ten commandments</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="">Exodus 32:1-5</a>, the golden calf</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="">Deuteronomy 6:5</a>, the greatest commandment</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="">Psalm 135:15-18</a>, the idols are the work of human hands</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="">Isaiah 2:8</a>, the land is filled with idols</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="">Isaiah 46:1-4</a>, God will save Israel</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="">Romans 1:22-25</a>, they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped creatures rather than their Creator God</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="">1 Corinthians 8:4-6</a>, there is no God but one</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="">Galatians 4:8</a>, when the people didn&#39;t know God they were enslaved to beings that are not gods</span></li></ul><p><strong><span class="heading-lg">Reflections about Idolatry</span></strong></p><p><span class="body-copy"><span class="body-copy">Israel&#39;s relation to God is regulated by the covenant of grace God established with Abraham and renewed at Sinai with Moses. The idea in the covenant is &quot;I will be your God&quot; and &quot;you will be my people.&quot; The very first of the Ten Commandments states what follows from the covenant relationship: &quot;You shall have no other gods before me.&quot; The relationship is laden with promise-making and retainable only by promise-keeping. It is like a marriage. The first thing to say about idolatry is therefore that it is a treacherous piece of covenant-breaking. It is the betrayal of the vow Israel made to God at Sinai (Exodus&nbsp;19:8). Idolatry is a form of adultery. An idol wedges a foreign element into a relationship in which there is properly no room for it.</span> </span></p><p><span style="font-size: 16px;"><span class="body-copy">Exodus 32 tells of the golden calf, as riveting a story as Scripture has to offer, and a dramatic example of the fact that idolatry can include having an alternative god alongside the one true God. Aaron builds the golden calf and then is struck by an uncomfortable thought. What if the mountain-climbing Moses comes back? What if Yahweh is for real? So he orders an altar to be built in front of the golden calf and calls for a church service. &quot;Forget about these new Egyptian-style idol services,&quot; he says. &quot;Tomorrow we&#39;re going to hold a more traditional service &mdash; a festival of devotion to Yahweh. So there is the altar to Yahweh. Behind it stands the fertility god, a golden cud-chewing stud. Both items! Both gods! A stricken Aaron wants an altar to Yahweh, but nobody thinks to throw a tarp over the golden calf.</span></span></p><p><span style="font-size: 16px;"><span class="body-copy">Idols are ravenous. They may consumeus. Both Yahweh and the idol are jealous gods who want all that we have and all that we are. If you find the center of your life in your stock portfolio, it will never be thick enough. If you want to live through your children as your final glory, they can never be smart enough, athletic enough, never accomplished enough. If you want your religion to make you feel good, you won&#39;t feel good enough till your religion turns to orgy. Even then, it won&#39;t be enough.</span></span></p><p><span style="font-size: 16px;">Isaiah 46 ma<span class="body-copy">rvels at the fact that idols have to be carried. Else they are strictly local gods. But then the prophet marvels that, by contrast, God carries us. As John Timmer once preached, this contrast proposes the </span>central question of religion: Who is carrying whom? </span></p><p><span style="font-size: 16px;"><span class="body-copy">Biblical authors are constantly struck by the futility of idol-worship. They have in mind carved and molten idols. Worshiping them is not just wrong; it&#39;s dumb. Imagine the incongruity of worshiping something we have made ourselves. Idols are our creatures, not our creator. They&#39;re not going to save anybody. And, says, Psalm 135, if we stare at our idols long enough we become hollow and lifeless too. People tend to resemble what they worship.</span></span></p><p><span style="font-size: 16px;"><span class="body-copy"><span class="body-copy">As the reformers knew, my god is whatever my heart clings to. That makes the list of possible idols familiar and depressingly long: myself, my family, power, wealth, reputation, my nation, my people-group, pro football, cars, boats, planes, alcohol, cocaine. . . .</span></span></span></p>