What is idolatry?

This probably seems like an odd question since the subject of idolatry is one of the most repeatedly covered topics in Scripture.  The question however, is not whether God commands against idolatry, which He most assuredly does, but what exactly is idolatry?  The argument has been made that when praying to an image or a statue, it is not idolatry as long as it’s done in reverence to the person or “saint” the image represents, and as long as you do it in worship of and love for God.

In Ex 20 (the Ten Commandments) God commands against worshiping “graven images or any likeness” stating “You shall not bow down yourself to them, nor serve them.”  God is so adamant about this that it takes three verses to cover this one commandment and He refers to the idolaters as “them that hate Me”.

images of idolatry
Do any of these men hate God?

Webster defines idolatry as “the worship of a physical object as a god.”  This is a very simple and concise definition, but it does not cover the full scope.  What about the worship of God through a physical object?  Does God appreciate your worship even if it comes through a statue or a painting or a “holy” wall or a big black box?  As long as you are worshiping God why does it matter how you do it?

Want to know the answer to these questions? 

The sins of Jeroboam

Jeroboam created false feast days and idols at Dan and Bethel in 1 Kings 12, because he was afraid the people would return to the House of David if they went to Jerusalem to worship God.  Note that the people who sought to worship God were the ones that concerned Jeroboam.  So, he convinced them that praying and sacrificing to his idols and keeping his new feast days WAS worshiping God and this thing became a sin unto the people.

With Jeroboam, God had specifically given him the 10 northern tribes, but he didn’t trust God and took it upon himself to lie to and deceive the people in order to keep them subject to him.  The deception of idolatry was used to keep the people in submission to the King just like world leaders today speaking great words about God and use religion to control and manipulate the masses.

The Brazen Serpent in the wilderness

Moses and the Brazen Serpent
Moses and the Brazen Serpent

The brazen serpent Moses made in Numbers 21 to heal the people from the “cruel poison of serpents,” had to be destroyed by Hezekiah in 2 Kings 18 because the people had begun to burn incense to it.  The people didn’t think this image represented some six-armed blue faced god, they sought to pay homage to the God of Israel.

Furthermore, by doing this they were obscuring the shadow contained in it.  The Gospel of John gives us that shadow in 3:14-15 “… as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Adam be lifted up…”  God’s Word is filled with shadows and parables, so if you focus on an image, you’ll miss the whole point.  Who does the brazen serpent represent or the rod that lifted him up or why turning towards them would heal one of the poison of the serpent?  “They changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshiped and served the creation more than the Creator…”  The worship of images therefore causes the people to be unable to understand God or His Word.

Jeremiah 10 “Christmas” = idolatry.

christmas tree idol
Jeremiah 10

The heathen, according to Jeremiah 10, cut down a tree out of the forest, deck it with gold and silver and fasten it with hammers and nails so it doesn’t fall over.  Jeremiah specifically warns against this, calling it a “doctrine of vanities.”  This is exactly what is done on Christmas, the “birthday” of Jesus, which is nowhere in God’s Word.  Here we have a false feast day linked to idolatry in the form of a Christmas tree.  This feast or “Holy” day is celebrated all over the world and is purported to be in homage to God and His Son, yet Jeremiah warns us about it over 600 years before Jesus was born.  People today don’t recognize this image as representing paganism, they seek to please God and reverence his Son, but this is no different than all the other examples.  Doctrines of vanities used by men to enrich themselves and control the people of God.

Conclusion, idolatry causes you to misunderstand God.

The Commandment states “You shall not make unto yourself any graven image, or any likeness of any thing” and “you shall not bow down to them nor worship them.”  Idolatry is giving worth (worship/worthship) to any image whether in homage to God, His son, His “mother,” any of the “saints” or any other imagined divinity.

Idols and Idolatry cause you to misunderstand God’s Word by focusing on a physical thing and missing the spiritual meaning.  It’s like the phrase “You can’t see the forest for the trees,” but in this case you can’t see God for the Idols.  This is why God hates idolatry and you should too.  In every case idolatry and false worship practices cause the children of God to become subject to the control of those who have no regard for them and would do them hurt. Just like the Serpent who deceived Eve in the beginning and caused her to be disobedient to God’s Command.

As Paul said in Eph 6:12, “We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”  “Spiritual Wickedness in high places” are the religious leaders who cause the children of God to worship Idols and false doctrine, the doctrines of men (e.g. Catechism, Talmud, Koran, Book of Mormon, etc…).  “Principalities and Powers of the Earth” are those who use religious organizations to control and subject the people of God to them (e.g. Speaking great words about a God they don’t know).  The “wicked” are those who are defiling our children, promoting War as good business, violence as the norm, corruption, deception and destruction of our planet and its people as a way of life.  These people, God is going to destroy and in some ways this has already begun.  Everything and everyone associated with them will be brought to an absolute end and there is nothing that anyone and certainly any statue can do about it.  Don’t be fooled by their crying statues and hocus pocus magic shows.

Jesus said, “If those who lead you say to you, ‘See, the kingdom is in the sky,’ then the birds of the sky will precede you. If they say to you, ‘It is in the sea,’ then the fish will precede you. Rather, the kingdom is inside of you, and it is outside of you. When you come to know yourselves, then you will become known, and you will realize that it is you who are the children of the living Father. But if you will not know yourselves, you dwell in poverty and it is you who are that poverty.” Gospel of Thomas

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