IDOLATRY

As Christians we constantly read in the Old Testament about the idolatry that the Israelites so often fell into, and often wonder how they could have done such a thing, holding inanimate statues in reverence and praying to them, rather than praying to God who had performed such miracles in their lives.

Yet unfortunately, all we need to do is look in some of our homes and churches and we can see the very same thing. Idols abound in the form of crucifixes, statues and pictures of Mary, Joseph, Jesus, medals with images of saints, etc. All of these are revered as religious objects, and are therefore idols.

How are these thing idols? God was quite explicit in what He considered to be an idol. As He told the nation of Israel;

EXODUS 20:4-6

4 Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness [of any thing] that [is] in heaven above, or that [is] in the earth beneath, or that [is] in the water under the earth:

5 Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God [am] a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth [generation] of them that hate me;

6 And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.

LEVITICUS 26:1

1 Ye shall make you no idols nor graven image, neither rear you up a standing image, neither shall ye set up [any] image of stone in your land, to bow down unto it: for I [am] the LORD your God.

DEUTERONOMY 4:16-19

16 Lest ye corrupt [yourselves], and make you a graven image, the similitude of any figure, the likeness of male or female,

17 The likeness of any beast that [is] on the earth, the likeness of any winged fowl that flieth in the air,

18 The likeness of any thing that creepeth on the ground, the likeness of any fish that [is] in the waters beneath the earth:

19 And lest thou lift up thine eyes unto heaven, and when thou seest the sun, and the moon, and the stars, [even] all the host of heaven, shouldest be driven to worship them, and serve them, which the LORD thy God hath divided unto all nations under the whole heaven.

Unfortunately Man seems to have a deep-rooted need to be able to have a visible image of something that he can worship. Buddhists have statues of Buddha; Hindus have statues of Shiva, Hanuman, Vishnu and the like; many of the Eastern Orthodox religions have icons and relics that they revere, such as bones of saints; Catholics have statues, pictures, relics and such.

Israel fell into this trap early on, right after God had brought them out of Egypt to Mount Sinai, despite the astounding miracles that He had wrought on the Egyptians in bringing them out of slavery. As the book of Exodus records, Moses had gone up to the top of Mount Sinai to receive the Ten Commandments from the Lord, and had been gone for forty days.

The top of the mountain was shrouded in darkness so that the people could not see the Lord, and they quickly became indifferent to the fact that the Lord was with them. Even Aaron, Moses' brother was caught up in the trap. As Moses states when he wrote the book of Exodus;

EXODUS 34:1-5

1 And when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down out of the mount, the people gathered themselves together unto Aaron, and said unto him, Up, make us gods, which shall go before us; for [as for] this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him.

2 And Aaron said unto them, Break off the golden earrings, which [are] in the ears of your wives, of your sons, and of your daughters, and bring [them] unto me.

3 And all the people broke off the golden earrings which [were] in their ears, and brought [them] unto Aaron.

4 And he received [them] at their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool, after he had made it a molten calf: and they said, These [be] thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.

5 And when Aaron saw [it], he built an altar before it; and Aaron made proclamation, and said, To morrow [is] a feast to the LORD.

Note several things here. Instead of giving credit to God for bringing them up from Egypt, the people said, "as for this Moses, the man that brought us up from Egypt", which means that they had focused on a man rather than God as being the one who had performed these miracles.

Also, after Aaron had created the golden calf the people proclaimed it to be their God, and even Aaron proclaimed that the calf was an image of God. The people had made a visible image that they could see and worship, rather than have faith and trust in a God that they couldn't see.

God, knowing this, explicitly states that we are not to create any image of any thing that we venerate as a religious item, be it a statue (standing image, image of stone), or any image of any religious figure of any sort. If we have any of these things in our houses and churches, then we are as guilty of idol worship as any of the Canaanites or ancient Israelites.

How many people wear medals of "Saint Christopher" around their necks? How many people keep crucifixes around the house to ward off evil? How many statues and pictures do we find in our churches?

If you attribute some kind of religious power to these items, then they have become venerated religious objects. And you are depending on them for spiritual protection, that is pure idolatry, no different than the people who kept family idols of Baal in their houses for protection.

Webster's 21st Century Dictionary defines "veneration" as "respect deeply; worship; revere." You can call it what you want, respect, revere, whatever; it is still worship, and therefore idolatry.

When invading the land of Canaan, God specifically commanded the Israelites to destroy the idols that they found;

EXODUS 23:24

24 Thou shalt not bow down to their gods, nor serve them, nor do after their works: but thou shalt utterly overthrow them, and quite break down their images.

God ordered this to break the hold that demons had over the lives of people through these statues. Every idol had one or more demons controlling it, and by worshiping the idols the people were worshiping the demons that the idols represented. Smashing the idols showed Israel that God had triumphed over the demonic hordes that were inhabiting the land, and had broken their power.

People seem to have a need to worship a god whose image they can see, even today. Another example of Israel's idolatry must be expressed here to make a point which I will expound on later.

In this case, Israel had been wandering in the wilderness after leaving Egypt, and were once again complaining, even though God had been taking care of them, and had provided them with water and manna as they traveled through the barren land.

God, tired of their constant complaining and unbelief punished them by sending vipers among them, and providing a choice between life and death, belief and unbelief. And even in His wrath he showed mercy to them. As the book of Numbers records;

NUMBERS 21:4-9

4 And they journeyed from mount Hor by the way of the Red sea, to compass the land of Edom: and the soul of the people was much discouraged because of the way.

5 And the people spake against God, and against Moses, Wherefore have ye brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? for [there is] no bread, neither [is there any] water; and our soul loatheth this light bread.

6 And the LORD sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died.

7 Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, We have sinned, for we have spoken against the LORD, and against thee; pray unto the LORD, that he take away the serpents from us. And Moses prayed for the people.

8 And the LORD said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live.

9 And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived.

God saved those who were willing to repent and turn from their sin. However after entering Canaan the people quickly fell into idolatry again as a disgusted king Hezekiah of Judah found out several hundred years later.

II KINGS 18:1-5

1 Now it came to pass in the third year of Hoshea son of Elah king of Israel, [that] Hezekiah the son of Ahaz king of Judah began to reign.

2 Twenty and five years old was he when he began to reign; and he reigned twenty and nine years in Jerusalem. His mother's name also [was] Abi, the daughter of Zachariah.

3 And he did [that which was] right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that David his father did.

4 He removed the high places, and brake the images, and cut down the groves, and brake in pieces the brasen serpent that Moses had made: for unto those days the children of Israel did burn incense to it: and he called it Nehushtan.

5 He trusted in the LORD God of Israel; so that after him was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor [any] that were before him.

6 For he clave to the LORD, [and] departed not from following him, but kept his commandments, which the LORD commanded Moses.

Note first that Judah worshipped the brass serpent that Moses had made, believing that it had some kind of power, based on the Scriptural account of what had happened to their fathers in the wilderness. And also note that Hezekiah was careful to call it "Nehushtan" which in Hebrew means "a piece of brass".

In other words, Hezekiah understood that the serpent was nothing more than a piece of brass, a symbol of the sin of Israel in the wilderness, and a reminder of the punishment of continued unbelief. And yet, just like today, it became a stumblingblock to Judah and the people began worshiping it. He also destroyed the idols that Judah worshiped, and cut down their sacred groves where they sacrificed to these images in accordance to God's commandment to Israel concerning these things.

Strangely and frighteningly enough, archaeologists in the Middle East are finding these smashed images and are reconstructing them, and putting them on display in museums! I have seen some of these images in various Biblical archaeological magazines, and I was astounded that these people are actually reconstructing these demon gods!



I have had many people tell me that they do not worship the statues that they have in their churches, nor do they worship the pictures, etc. It doesn't matter. Any place that has those items is in direct violation of God's commandments in Exodus 20:4-6, and Leviticus 1:26.

God plainly states that we are not to make any image of any thing that has religious significance. Ever wonder why there are no physical descriptions given of Jesus, Mary, Moses, or the apostles? To keep us from creating images of them! So, we use our imaginations and create statues and pictures of them anyway!

And for those who say they do not worship these images, granted, maybe you don't, but others do! I have seen people bowing and praying before these images, especially in Catholic churches and in eastern religions. The very fact that these images exist is in violation of God's commandments, even if you don't worship them. And by staying in such a church where these things are revered, you have given your approval to their being there.

And for those who say that they are to remind us of people and events, we have the Scriptures to do that. We don't need statues and images to remind us of Jesus' atoning death; the Holy Spirit constantly reminds us of that.

Let's look at an example of a modern-day idol, in this case the crucifix.

The crucifix invariably shows Jesus dead on the cross, crucified. Why show Him as dead? Is he not living? Was He not resurrected from the dead?

Read this next part carefully.

Paul says that Jesus became a curse for us when He hung on the cross. As Scripture states;

GALATIANS 3:13

13 Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed [is] every one that hangeth on a tree:

II CORINTHIANS 5:21

21 For he hath made him [to be] sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

By definition, a crucifix would be a graven image, an image of God made by man's hands. Therefore, by having a crucifix, you have a graven image of a cursed thing, a literal image of sin in your presence. (For those who might take offense at that, remember, Paul states that Jesus became the very image of sin on the cross.)

So, having a graven image of sin in your presence, you would do well to heed God's warning to Moses when he said of idols;

DEUTERONOMY 7:25,26

25 The graven images of their gods shall ye burn with fire: thou shalt not desire the silver or gold [that is] on them, nor take [it] unto thee, lest thou be snared therein: for it [is] an abomination to the LORD thy God.

26 Neither shalt thou bring an abomination into thine house, lest thou be a cursed thing like it: [but] thou shalt utterly detest it, and thou shalt utterly abhor it; for it [is] a cursed thing.

Scripture plainly records that Jesus became a curse, a literal image of sin on the cross. And we have these graven images of sin all about us and in our churches, and we treat these objects with reverence! Will we not become a cursed thing like it? Will God spare us from His punishment for idolatry? Did He spare Israel for their idolatry?

Paul reminds us of an important point concerning fallen Israel and the fact that the Gentiles have received eternal life through grace;

ROMANS 11:16-20

16 For if the firstfruit [be] holy, the lump [is] also [holy]: and if the root [be] holy, so [are] the branches.

17 And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert graffed in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree;

18 Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee.

19 Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be graffed in.

20 Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear:

21 For if God spared not the natural branches, [take heed] lest he also spare not thee.

22 Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in [his] goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.

God plainly states that idols are an abomination to Him, and a snare to Man. And we are no better than the ancient Israelites whom God destroyed because of their idolatry. As Paul said, God didn't spare the natural branches of the tree (the Jews) and neither will he spare us (wild branches) if we follow in their practices.

ROMANS 2:22

22 Thou that sayest a man should not commit adultery, dost thou commit adultery? thou that abhorrest idols, dost thou commit sacrilege?

For those who might say that the above laws are for the Old Testament and do not apply to us today, take a look at the above verse. We teach that men shouldn't worship idols, while we have them in our homes and churches, and hanging about our necks.

Shouldn't we practice what we preach?



Bottom line: Any object that is an image of a person and has religious significance or is revered is an idol, a graven image, and is forbidden by God and is an abomination in His sight. God is invisible, and there have purposely been no descriptions ever given of Him or the apostles, as God knew that man would try to create idols of them to worship.

Statues, crucifixes, medals, icons, relics and pictures of Jesus, Mary, Joseph, the apostles, "saints" all fall into the same category of being idols, and are under the same ban by God.

Mary and the "saints" can't save you anyway, so why have images of them? And God commanded us to make no images of Him, so why have them?

If you have these things in your presence, PLEASE, get rid of them! Break them up as God commands, repent of your sin and worship God only! Worship Him in faith, not by sight, believing that he exists, and is a rewarder of those who seek him, and a punisher of those who rebel against Him.

And you who have read this are now responsible for this knowledge. What you do with it, is between you and God. However I pray in Jesus' name that God will open your eyes to the truth of what I have written here, and you will pass it on to others, that they may turn away from this insidious sin.





Questions? Comments? E-mail: watchmen_777@yahoo.com



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