What do you think about when you hear the word idol? I think about a golden calf, shiny statues in the middle of a park or a symbol that people bow down to. Typically, what comes to mind are things that people create and worship in place of the Lord God. The dictionary defines idolatry as excessive or “blind adoration, reverence, devotion”. In these passages the Lord makes it very clear that devotion and love for any-thing or any-one else besides him is idolatry. Another way of putting it; idolatry is worshiping the created instead of the Creator.
In chapter 4 alone there are three times the Lord reminds the people to watch themselves carefully lest they fall into temptation:
9 “Only take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. Make them known to your children and your children’s children.”
15 “Therefore watch yourselves very carefully. Since you saw no form on the day that the Lord spoke to you at Horeb out of the midst of the fire, 16 beware lest you act corruptly by making a carved image for yourselves, in the form of any figure, the likeness of male or female,
23 Take care, lest you forget the covenant of the Lord your God, which he made with you, and make a carved image, the form of anything that the Lord your God has forbidden you. 24 For the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.
Why was it necessary for the Lord to give these reminders? Why is our human nature so quick to create something to consume our time and energy instead of focusing on Him? We were made by to worship. All of us, all of the time are worshiping something or someone. God’s jealousy and desire for us to love and worship him alone stems not from anger or pride but out of love. Idol worship leads to slavery, worshiping the Creator leads to freedom. Love is exclusive in nature whereas idolatry is adultery. Idols demand a sacrifice whereas God became the sacrifice!
Our society makes idol worship culturally acceptable. The love for technology, food, fashion, health, love, money, food, education, success, status (and the list goes on) is ever growing and more tolerable as the years pass.
I have been thinking about my own idols this week. What is it that consumes my thoughts, my time, my energy and my resources? What keeps me up at night and gets me up in the morning? What am I using my gifts and talents for? I know I often make “good things” idols in the name of serving Christ but any good thing can easily become an idol I am not listening to the warnings God gave; “Only take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life.”
Martin Luther once said, “That to which your heart clings and entrusts itself to, that I say is really your God.”
Holy Spirit, reveal to my heart the places where idol worship has replaced worship of you, the one and only, true and living God. Help me to love you more and worship you in spirit and in truth. Amen.