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.
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.
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 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?