Ancient VS Modern Idolatry

Ancient Idolatry

We really don’t spend much time thinking about how and why idolatry existed in ancient days. I am sure most of us have heard sermons on this topic, but here is a fresh look at it.


What is usually missed by the average Bible reader is that idolatry really did not exist outside of the monotheism. So, for everyone who believed that many god’s existed, having a different God for different needs just made sense. All the God’s had jobs to do and they filled different roles. The sun god made sure the sun came and went. The god of the Nile controlled the waters and the flood season. The god of fertility controlled who bore children. Thus, just about every need of the ancient people’s was coupled with a certain god.

household idols

Now, we like to point out the fact that one of the major differences between then and now is that they had replicas made of their idols. So, wood, metal, and other workable materials were designed to look like what the gods looked like. This in itself is not idolatry in the deepest sense. However, I would recommend not trying to make an image of YHWH because Exodus 20:4 and Leviticus 26:1 warns us not to.

For fun, here are some of my favorite ancient idols to laugh at.


Modern Idolatry

Let’s first define this issue. Some have accused the Catholic Church as still practicing idolatry because of their statues and other creations. I am going to defend the Catholics on this one and say that those are simple icons to act as reminders of things in the Christian heritage. The main difference being that a true idol is set up to be worshiped as and replicate a certain god. Church icons are not used in this way nor are they trying to replace God.

Idolatry IS, however, putting your faith in anything other than our God. This was the original sin. Adam and Eve were not cast from the garden because they ate a magic apple. They were cast out because they were disobedient and they did not trust that God told them the truth and would take care of their needs. This is the same root of idolatry that goes throughout the Bible. The most famous example of this is the example of the Israelites at the base of Mt. Sinai when they feared God (and Moses) left them and made another god to worship.

Today we have hidden idolatry. What I mean is that we do not worship other gods usually. (Emphasis on usually). But we do have a severe lack of faith in God. We doubt that he is going to provide us with what we need. We take that lack of faith in God and we put it often in money, our partners, our employers, or another entity. The bottom line is that we suffer from a lack of faith and that faith almost always gets put into something else. Just about everyone has faith in something. Even the most hardened unbeliever puts faith in something.

The Challenge

The question is where is your faith? A question I often have to ask myself so I do not loose track of my future. Are you leaning on God or on your own abilities? Are you waking up each asking for direction?



16 thoughts on “Ancient VS Modern Idolatry”

  1. i am seven day christan i suggest we do not worship idols because they are not real we as people of god shall preach and say to people turn away from your gods and worship the true god

  2. Respectfully, you are wrong in so many ways. DEUT 5: 8-9. “You shall not make for yourself a CARVED IMAGE, or ANY LIKENESS OF ANYTHING that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or worship them.” Coming from a catholic background I guarantee you they are breaking this law (which they removed from their “10 commandments” in the CCC). The catholics also worship (pray to and literally bow down to) the saints and Mary. Idol worship. Look into what actually happened in our history. Saying: “What is usually missed by the average Bible reader is that idolatry really did not exist outside of the monotheism.” Shows you do not know the Bible. The Israelites were warned and punished time and time again for falling into polytheistic bible worship. Please know what you are talking about before spreading it as truth.

    • I’m not sure you understood my point. On the matter of polytheism, the belief and reverence of more than one deity is normal for polytheist and henotheists. Thus, their religion permitted behavior that the Jewish religion would have identified as idolatry. My point was that Biblical idolatry was a phenomenon that was somewhat unique in the ancient world. Although, there are a number of Babylonian rulers who claimed the failures of their enemies was because they spurned the worship of Marduk as the highest deity in the pantheon and instead tried to elevate other deities in his place.

      Given the monotheistic nature of the late Jewish people (certainly not the early Hebrews though) idolatry was just about anything that took the place of worshipping God, if we’re assuming that the term “idolatry” isn’t merely the act of carving a figure. Hence why the people are accusing of harlotry and going after idols. The Hebrew word pertaining to the English word meaning idolatry is “עבודה זרה” and it literally translates to “strange worship”. So it’s pretty safe to say that idolatry isn’t the mere act of carving a representation of something.

      On the matter of the Catholics, I’m not talking about their veneration of Mary. I was talking about their practice of making icons. Icons are not worshipped. They are typically there as teaching tools and reminders. People who worship Mary commit idolatry with or without a statue of her.

    • the catholic church did not remove the second commandment they just added it to the first commandment also most catholic dont worship images and if they do they really shouldnt also the book of reveleations describes “the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, rose before God” (Rev 8:4). It is worth pausing to reflect on the magnitude of these words. In the liturgy of heaven, the cries of earth join the chorus of the cries of heaven, and “the prayers of all the saints” (Rev 8:3) rise before God

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  4. “Laughing” at the beliefs of a certain group or past group is not a good way to go about things. Their faith was just as real to them as yours is to you.


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