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On Idols and Idolatry


Ecclesiastes 3:10 says that “God has planted eternity in the human heart.” One of the things I think this communicates to us is that we have been created to worship. Within us lies the capacity to worship and the will to worship. So why do we struggle to connect with God? Why is it so hard for us to seek God and find God? We will worship. The question then is, “Who are we worshipping?” “What are we worshipping?”

I believe that one of the reasons we struggle in our attempts to connect with God is that we have allowed idols to creep into our lives. Without going into a lengthy definition, idolatry is giving our allegiance and affection to someone or something in order to gratify and satisfy our desires and fill the longings in our souls.

Idolatry was a problem throughout the Bible. From Genesis and the tower of Babel to Babylon the Great in Revelation, idolatry is a recurring theme. Those who read the Bible can see it clearly illustrated in the Kings of the Old Testament. There were good kings like David who wholeheartedly worshipped God. Don’t get me wrong, at times David was a rascal. But he never departed from his singular worship of God. Then there were kings like Solomon who tried to balance the worship of God with the worship of idols. By the end of his life he is duplicitous and jaded about life and God. Other kings were like Rehoboam, who abandoned God completely and exclusively worshipped idols. For hundreds of years, the people of God ebbed and flowed according to their worship practices. In fact, Israel struggled with idolatry until the inter-testamental period and their return from exile. Only then did Israel become truly monotheistic.

About now, you may be feeling the need to call a time-out. After all, who among us has an altar erected in their home or an asherah pole in the back yard? While we may not possess graven images complete with altars of sacrifice, the subtle temptation to possess idols is just as real today as it was for our Old Testament counterparts. The only difference is that our idols are far more sophisticated.

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