Monday, October 16, 2017

Modern Day Idols

Dear God seekers,

Idolatry is something that has been around for thousands of years and is still just as prevalent in the world today as it was in the old days. In fact, this present generation is the most evil one that has ever lived on the face of the earth, so idolatry is probably more widespread now than ever before. It comes in many forms, some old-fashioned ones and some modern-day ones. Let's look at what the Scripture says about it and what constitutes idolatry, as well as what does not.

A golden calf
"Then God spoke all these words, saying, 'I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall have no other gods before Me. You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments."(Exo 20:1-6).

These are the first and second commandments. The first commandment is that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is Yehova our God, and we shall have no other gods before us. The second commandment forbids idolatry. We must not make an idol, which is a graven image. That includes any likeness of anything in heaven or on earth or in the water. God specified that we shall not worship such images or serve them, and this must be understood in the context of the first commandment against having any other gods before Yehova. When God commanded us in the second commandment not to make an image of anything in the likeness of what is in heaven above, that included God Himself, His throne, the angels, the cherubim, and the glorious Holy City.

The Lord reiterated it in Deuteronomy when He said:

"So watch yourselves carefully, since you did not see any form on the day the LORD spoke to you at Horeb from the midst of the fire, so that you do not act corruptly and make a graven image for yourselves in the form of any figure, the likeness of male or female, the likeness of any animal that is on the earth, the likeness of any winged bird that flies in the sky, the likeness of anything that creeps on the ground, the likeness of any fish that is in the water below the earth. And beware not to lift up your eyes to heaven and see the sun and the moon and the stars, all the host of heaven, and be drawn away and worship them and serve them, those which the LORD your God has allotted to all the peoples under the whole heaven." (Deu 4:15-19)

When the Lord spoke to the Israelites at Horeb, He spoke from the midst of the fire on top of the mountain. They did not see any form on that day. He says that to make a graven image is to act corruptly. The prohibition is against making images in the form of any figure, including those in the likeness of male or female, any animal, any bird, anything that creeps on the ground such as serpents, and any fish. He also warned us not to lift up our eyes to heaven and see the sun and the moon and the stars, all the host of heaven, and be drawn away and worship them and serve them. This is essentially a reiteration of the first and second commandments.

Images in the Bible
We do see images in the Bible, some that were authorized by God and others that were not. Let's look at some of them.

The Tabernacle
God commanded Moses to be sure and make the tabernacle according to the pattern shown to him on the mountain (Ex 25:40). The tabernacle itself and all its furnishings were types or copies of the original realities that exist in heaven. Part of the pattern that God gave Moses to build was the ark of the covenant. Above it were the golden cherubim above the mercy seat on the ark.

"You shall make a mercy seat of pure gold, two and a half cubits long and one and a half cubits wide. You shall make two cherubim of gold, make them of hammered work at the two ends of the mercy seat. Make one cherub at one end and one cherub at the other end; you shall make the cherubim of one piece with the mercy seat at its two ends. The cherubim shall have their wings spread upward, covering the mercy seat with their wings and facing one another; the faces of the cherubim are to be turned toward the mercy seat." (Exo 25:17-20)

This is an example of a case where God commanded Moses to make an image of cherubim, which are created beings in heaven. In fact, they were on the ark of the covenant in the most sacred place of all, the holy of holies. God also commanded Moses to put images of angels in other places in the tabernacle, too, such as the curtains.

"Moreover you shall make the tabernacle with ten curtains of fine twisted linen and blue and purple and scarlet material; you shall make them with cherubim, the work of a skillful workman." (Exo 26:1).

All these images were authorized by God, who gave the skillful workmen the talent to create such beautiful material.

The Temple
We also see the use of cherubim in the design of Solomon's temple:

"Now there were four supports at the four corners of each stand; its supports were part of the stand itself. On the top of the stand there was a circular form half a cubit high, and on the top of the stand its stays and its borders were part of it. He engraved on the plates of its stays and on its borders, cherubim, lions and palm trees, according to the clear space on each, with wreaths all around. He made the ten stands like this: all of them had one casting, one measure and one form." (1Ki 7:34-37)

Likewise, we see cherubim in the design of the millenial temple:

"It was carved with cherubim and palm trees; and a palm tree was between cherub and cherub, and every cherub had two faces, a man's face toward the palm tree on one side and a young lion's face toward the palm tree on the other side; they were carved on all the house all around. From the ground to above the entrance cherubim and palm trees were carved, as well as on the wall of the nave." (Eze 41:18-20)

These images were all allowed by God.

The Bronze Serpent
Another example of God authorizing an image is the bronze serpent. Snakes were biting the Israelites in the wilderness, because of their sinful behavior, and they were dying. So God commanded Moses to make a bronze serpent and put it on a cross bar atop a long pole. When those bitten by the snakes would look up at the serpent high atop the pole, they would be healed and not die.

"Then the LORD said to Moses, 'Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a standard; and it shall come about, that everyone who is bitten, when he looks at it, he will live.' And Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on the standard; and it came about, that if a serpent bit any man, when he looked to the bronze serpent, he lived." (Num 21:8-9)

This serpent was actually a type of Christ on the cross, according to the Scriptures. "As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life." (Joh 3:14-15)

Unfortunately the Israelites turned the bronze serpent into an idol named Nehushtan and burned incense to it. That's why Hezekiah broke it in pieces.

"He removed the high places and broke down the sacred pillars and cut down the Asherah. He also broke in pieces the bronze serpent that Moses had made, for until those days the sons of Israel burned incense to it; and it was called Nehushtan." (2Ki 18:4)

The Gold Ephod
When Gideon returned from battle, victorious over the Midanites, the Israelites wanted him to be king over them. He refused to be their king, but said the Lord would rule over them. He did ask for one thing and that was their gold earrings, which they gladly gave him. He melted it down and made a gold ephod out of what he collected. The Israelites later prostituted themselves with the ephod and it became a snare to Gideon.

"Then the men of Israel said to Gideon, 'Rule over us, both you and your son, also your son's son, for you have delivered us from the hand of Midian.' But Gideon said to them, 'I will not rule over you, nor shall my son rule over you; the LORD shall rule over you.' Yet Gideon said to them, 'I would request of you, that each of you give me an earring from his spoil.' (For they had gold earrings, because they were Ishmaelites.) They said, 'We will surely give them.' So they spread out a garment, and every one of them threw an earring there from his spoil. The weight of the gold earrings that he requested was 1,700 shekels of gold, besides the crescent ornaments and the pendants and the purple robes which were on the kings of Midian, and besides the neck bands that were on their camels' necks. Gideon made it into an ephod, and placed it in his city, Ophrah, and all Israel played the harlot with it there, so that it became a snare to Gideon and his household." (Jdg 8:22-27)

Baal and Ashtaroth 
Of course, we all know about the many idols the Jews made, such as idols to Baal and Ashtaroth. "So they forsook the LORD and served Baal and the Ashtaroth." (Jdg 2:13)

"Then the sons of Israel again did evil in the sight of the LORD, served the Baals and the Ashtaroth, the gods of Aram, the gods of Sidon, the gods of Moab, the gods of the sons of Ammon, and the gods of the Philistines; thus they forsook the LORD and did not serve Him." (Jdg 10:6).

The prophet Samuel got them to get rid of these, although they later returned to idolatry. "Then Samuel spoke to all the house of Israel, saying, 'If you return to the LORD with all your heart, remove the foreign gods and the Ashtaroth from among you and direct your hearts to the LORD and serve Him alone; and He will deliver you from the hand of the Philistines.' So the sons of Israel removed the Baals and the Ashtaroth and served the LORD alone." (1Sa 7:3-4)

The Golden Calf
Then there was the famous golden calf that they worshiped.

"Now when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, the people assembled about Aaron and said to him, 'Come, make us a god who will go before us; as for this Moses, the man who brought us up from the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.' Aaron said to them, 'Tear off the gold rings which are in the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me.' Then all the people tore off the gold rings which were in their ears and brought them to Aaron. He took this from their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool and made it into a molten calf; and they said, 'This is your god, O Israel, who brought you up from the land of Egypt.' Now when Aaron saw this, he built an altar before it; and Aaron made a proclamation and said, 'Tomorrow shall be a feast to the LORD.' So the next day they rose early and offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play." (Exo 32:1-6)

This was a tragic moment for Israel when they fell into sin while Moses was on the mountain receiving the Ten Commandments from God.

The Foolishness of Idolatry
Idolatry is foolish, because it shows how man wants to worship something he can see. Yet God says, "To whom then will you liken God? Or what likeness will you compare with Him? As for the idol, a craftsman casts it, A goldsmith plates it with gold, And a silversmith fashions chains of silver. He who is too impoverished for such an offering Selects a tree that does not rot; He seeks out for himself a skillful craftsman To prepare an idol that will not totter." (Isa 40:18-20). They worship created things rather than the Creator.

As we can see, there were many images in the Bible, most of which were evil, but others that were authorized by God Himself.

Traditional Images 
Aside from these biblical examples, we also have examples of traditional images used in the Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches

Pope Benedict kneels before Mary statue
These religions have made many images into idols, including paintings and statues of Jesus and Mary, as well as the saints. Even crucifixes portraying Jesus hanging on the cross have been turned into idols. These images are venerated by those who kiss them, touch them, and bow down before them. These images are believed to have power. 

For example, it is believed to provide protection to have a picture of "the sacred heart of Jesus" in your home. The same is believed to be true of something called a scapula, which is an image made of metal or cloth that is worn on the body around the neck on a chain or pinned to the underwear. And depending on what kind of help you need, there are false beliefs about the various statues. If you need safety on the road, then you put a statue of Saint Jude on your dashboard or hang the rosary over your rear view mirror in your car. If you need help selling your home, then I have heard that some believe you should bury a statue of Saint Joseph upside down in your yard. All of this is pure superstition and idolatry.

When I first came to Christ, nobody had to tell me these things were idolatry. I gathered them up in my hands and as I prepared to throw them away, I felt that I was either about to commit the greatest act of sacrilege and a lightning bolt was going to strike me, or else I was about to be set free from religious bondage. Well, I threw them away by faith in God, and He did not strike me with lighting, but He did set me free from bondage. The truth set me free not only from that, but from addictions to drugs, alcohol, and immorality. 

Yet when I tried to warn others who were still in bondage to idolatry in the Catholic religion, they would not listen to me. They insisted that these were not idols and they were not committing idolatry, since they were not bowing down to these images or worshiping them. They hardened their hearts when they heard the voice of the Lord speaking to them through me, and they chose idolatry instead of truth. They justified their sin, so they could continue practicing it, rather than repent and be set free to worship God in spirit and in truth. 

Jesus said, "God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth." (Joh 4:24).

Therefore, if you are involved in idolatry with traditional images, the Lord is calling you to repent and turn away from such wickedness. Turn back to the living God and He will save you.

Also see Unbiblical Practices of the Catholic Church and Unbiblical Practices of the Russian Orthodox Church.

Are All Pictures Idolatry?
But some people even teach that making any kind of picture of Jesus is idolatry, which will take you down to hell. I personally do not teach that or believe it is true. If it is idolatry to have a picture of Jesus, then that means motion pictures of Jesus are also idolatry. That would mean that movies about Jesus are a form of idolatry, such as The Jesus Film produced by John Heyman and directed by Peter Sykes and John Krish, which is primarily based on the Gospel of Luke. Yet this movie has touched lives for Jesus and many people have come to know Him after watching the film, who would not otherwise have heard the gospel. In the book I Just Saw Jesus, which describes the making of the movie, it is obvious that God was in it and the devil was strongly opposed to it. 

If all movies of Jesus were idolatry, that would also mean that The Passion of the Christ movie produced by Mel Gibson in 2004 is idolatry. And again, I know that this movie has helped to show the world the sacrifice that Christ made for them on the cross. I also know that satan opposed the production of it, such as the making of the sound track. And James Caviezel, the actor who portrayed Jesus in that movie, encountered many trials and tribulations during the making of the film. For example, he was struck by lightning, accidentally scourged, had his shoulder dislocated, and suffered from pneumonia and hypothermia.

If all pictures of Jesus are idolatry, including still images and motion pictures, then according to the second commandment, all sacred artwork would be idolatrous, such as the pieces that artist Danny Hahlbohm says the Lord inspired him to paint. All photographs and pictures of any kind would also be considered idolatry, since they are either images of something on earth, in heaven, or in the sea. That would include videos of any kind, like videos of people, even pastors preaching sermons against idolatry! All such videos contain images of people, which are among the ones forbidden in Deu 4:15-19.

In fact, if all pictures are idolatry, then all drawings and illustrations are idolatry, such as children's illustrated Bibles, craft activities for children's Sunday School lessons on the Bible, coloring books of Bible stories, and paper cut-out figures of Bible characters. One of my children's favorite activities is flannel graph, which are flannel figures of people, angels, trees, animals, and buildings from the Bible, which they stick on a flannel board to create scenes from the Bible. They call it "sticky people." These would be considered idolatry, too, according to this teaching. All books containing illustrations, such as anatomy books and botany books would be idolatrous. All pictures everywhere would have to be eliminated.

I will leave it to you to prayerfully decide for yourself whether all pictures are idolatry, but unless the Lord shows me that personally, it is not my belief that they are.

Revelations About Diagrams and Drawings
Let me also share briefly some excerpts from a revelation given to a boy named Samuel, whom I have written about in my article Visitation of Jesus to Samuel Oghenetega. The Lord told him:

"Pastors who put any form of diagram on My altar and call My Name there, I am angry with them. And I will send them to hell."

"Tell those who draw any diagram or creature that does not glorify Me, I shall cast them into the lake of fire. In fact...some of these artists are demons, and they are...used for satan. Therefore, repent and beware."

Other Modern Idols
Some modern idols include video games, cars, motorcycles, movies, TV, i pads, i phones, smart phones, laptops, computers, sound systems, boyfriends, girlfriends, fashion models, sports figures, military heroes, politicians, royalty, movie stars, and entertainers, such as rock stars and other music celebrities.  Some make idols of their children, their pets, their spouse, their house, their boat, their vacations, their holidays, their sports, and their photographs. People also still make idols of the sun, moon, and stars. Others make idols of rocks and crystals. They can even make idols out of money, cigarettes, alcohol, drugs, sex, and food. And certain people like Hindus, still worship the images of their millions of false gods in their temples. Muslims travel to Mecca where they walk around a cube called the Kaaba. They bow before it, and pray, while some kiss the Black Stone in the eastern corner of the cube. Some make idols of their parents, grandparents, and ancestors. In some Asian countries, they venerate the dead by burning incense in front of pictures of their ancestors, which comes from Buddhism. Children may make idols of baseball cards, toys, dolls, action figures, super heroes, and cartoon characters. Christians even make idols out of their theological doctrines, as well as Christian celebrities and pastors, which is human worship.

With regard to the list of other idols I have made above, it is not comprehensive, of course. Moreover, just because people make idols of these things, not all of them are inherently sinful. For example, if the Lord blesses you with a spouse, a child, a pet, a house, a car, or a laptop, that is not necessarily sinful, and it does not mean we should get rid of these simply because others have idolized them. What is an idol to someone else is not necessarily an idol to me. However, some things are clearly sinful and idolatrous, regardless of who does them, such as all forms of pornography, which is an abomination to God.

Refusing to Bow to Idols
During the period when the Israelites were in captivity in Babylon for their sins of idolatry, the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar made an image of gold and forced all the people to bow down to it. But the three Hebrew young men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, refused to bow down.

"Nebuchadnezzar the king made an image of gold, the height of which was sixty cubits and its width six cubits; he set it up on the plain of Dura in the province of Babylon. Then Nebuchadnezzar the king sent word to assemble the satraps, the prefects and the governors, the counselors, the treasurers, the judges, the magistrates and all the rulers of the provinces to come to the dedication of the image that Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up." (Dan 3:1-2)

"Therefore at that time, when all the peoples heard the sound of the horn flute, lyre, trigon, psaltery, bagpipe and all kinds of music, all the peoples, nations and men of every language fell down and worshiped the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up." (Dan 3:7)

Everyone fell down and worshiped the golden image, except for the three Hebrew young men. When they were called before the king about this, and he threatened to throw them into the fiery furnace, they took a firm stand for God.

"Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego replied to the king, 'O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to give you an answer concerning this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.'" (Dan 3:16-18)

Of course, we know that the king did throw them into the furnace, and though his soldiers who threw them into it perished because of the intense heat, the three Hebrews were unhurt inside the blazing furnace. They came out without even the smell of smoke or a hair on their heads singed or any damage to their trousers. God had sent His angel and rescued them. 

We need more people like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego today who refuse to bow down to idols. Idolatry is not just a thing of the past, it is still very much a practice of the present, and it is going to continue in the future. In fact, during the soon coming Great Tribulation, all the inhabitants of the earth, whose names are not written in the Book of Life, will worship the beast. 

"All who dwell on the earth will worship him, everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who has been slain." (Rev 13:8).

And the false prophet will deceive the inhabitants of the earth with miraculous signs and wonders, forcing them to worship the image of the beast. 

"He performs great signs, so that he even makes fire come down out of heaven to the earth in the presence of men. And he deceives those who dwell on the earth because of the signs which it was given him to perform in the presence of the beast, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast who had the wound of the sword and has come to life. And it was given to him to give breath to the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast would even speak and cause as many as do not worship the image of the beast to be killed." (Rev 13:13-15)

But woe to anyone who does so.

"Then another angel, a third one, followed them, saying with a loud voice, 'If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, he also will drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is mixed in full strength in the cup of His anger; and he will be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever; they have no rest day and night, those who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name.' Here is the perseverance of the saints who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus." (Rev 14:9-12). 

Listen now to the words of the apostles. John said, "Dear children, keep yourselves from idols." (1Jn 5:21, NIV). Paul said, "Therefore, my dear friends, flee from idolatry." (1 Cor 10:14, NIV).

He said, "...we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal." (2Co 4:18)

He also said, "Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God." (Gal 5:19-21).

John said in the book of Revelation when he described the Holy City, "Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood." (Rev 22:15, NIV).

Putting it All Together
As you can see, mankind has a tremendous propensity for idolatry, which is rampant today. It's all around us! Idolatry is not just an ancient practice, but a modern one. And some idols that may seem modern are actually just a more recent version of ancient ones. The devil has an idol for all people of all ages, races, creeds, and languages.  It's more popular today than ever before, and since we are immersed in a culture full of idolatry, it's more difficult to recognize it in our own lives.

If you want to make it into the kingdom of God, you have to repent from idolatry. This includes any and all forms of it -- both traditional and modern ones. God is a jealous God, and He will not tolerate idolatry. Therefore, my dear friends, flee from idolatry.

Attribution Notice: All images copyrighted and used according to the Fair Use Act for educational and commentary purposes only.

Author's note If you enjoyed this article. I would like to invite you to read Sins That Will Keep You From HeavenAvoid Becoming a Corrupted Christian, Drifting Away, Abominations in the Sight of GodDeleted Scriptures in the Bible?, Striving to Enter the Kingdom of GodSalvation with Fear and Trembling, The Apostasy ParablesAngelica Zambrano Heaven and Hell, Unbiblical Practices of the Catholic Church, Unbiblical Practices of the Russian Orthodox Church, and Bowing Low in Worship.

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB. Other Scriptures taken from the Holy Bible NIV. 

You can access my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master." Now I'd like to ask a very important question.

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission.

1 comment:

  1. Here is a comment from my 16-yr old daughter who read this article. She stated: "Obviously since in the Bible there were images that God authorized, that shows that God did not mean that you could not make any images; he was forbidding making images to worship. As you pointed out, even people can be made and other things can be made into idols, but they does not mean that those things are bad in themselves. And you did point out that it is wrong to idolize images like the Catholics do..."


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