There is only ONE true God in the universe, and His Name is YHWH. However, in our world today, many people worship hundreds and even thousands of gods and goddesses. They make drawings, photos, and sculptures of them to worship them. Is this biblical and correct? Does the Bible have anything to say about this practice? Let’s discuss.
We are currently doing a series on the Ten Commandments. In our first episode, we discussed the First Commandment and answered the question, who or what is your God? We learned that a “god” is any person or thing you love, serve, and worship more than anyone or anything else. In this second episode, we will examine the Second Commandment forbidding the practice of idolatry — creating an idol — a two-dimensional picture or a 3D model of what we think God is. I will share with you five biblical reasons why we must avoid the practice of idolatry.
Let’s start with what God thundered on Mount Sinai about the Second Commandment:
Exodus 20:4-6 — “You shall not make for yourself a carved image — any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the LORD [YHWH] your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.
Isaiah 42:8 — [God says:] I am the LORD, that is My name; and My glory I will not give to another, nor My praise to carved images.
Romans 1:21-23 — [the Apostle Paul writes] …because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.
Daniel 5:23 — [the prophet Daniel told King Belshazzar]: You have lifted yourself up against the Lord of heaven. They have brought the vessels of His house before you, and you and your lords, your wives and your concubines, have drunk wine from them. And you have praised the gods of silver and gold, bronze and iron, wood and stone, which do not see or hear or know; and the God who holds your breath in His hand and owns all your ways, you have not glorified.
As we have seen, only the true God, YHWH, is worthy of our worship and praise.
Deuteronomy 4:28 — [Moses predicted the sin of the Israelites]: And there you will serve gods, the work of men’s hands, wood and stone, which neither see nor hear nor eat nor smell.
Psalms 115:4-8 — [the Psalmist wrote]: Their idols are silver and gold, the work of men’s hands. They have mouths, but they do not speak; eyes they have, but they do not see; they have ears, but they do not hear; noses they have, but they do not smell; they have hands, but they do not handle; feet they have, but they do not walk; nor do they mutter through their throat. Those who make them are like them; so is everyone who trusts in them.
Isaiah 46:7 — [God describes the total helplessness of an idol]: They bear it on the shoulder, they carry it and set it in its place, and it stands; from its place it shall not move. Though one cries out to it, yet it cannot answer nor save him out of his trouble.
Judges 10:14 — [God told the Israelites]: “Go and cry out to the gods which you have chosen; let them deliver you in your time of distress.”
Jeremiah 16:20 — Will a man make gods for himself, which are not gods?
These verses clearly show that idols are nothing. They are totally helpless and powerless.
Jeremiah 10:2-5 — Thus says the LORD: “Do not learn the way of the Gentiles; do not be dismayed at the signs of heaven, for the Gentiles are dismayed at them. For the customs of the peoples are futile; for one cuts a tree from the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the ax. They decorate it with silver and gold; they fasten it with nails and hammers so that it will not topple. They are upright, like a palm tree, and they cannot speak; they must be carried, because they cannot go by themselves. Do not be afraid of them, for they cannot do evil, nor can they do any good.”
God doesn’t want us to follow pagan customs and traditions, including making idols.
Deuteronomy 27:15 — [the Levites uttered a curse on all who practiced idolatry]: ‘Cursed is the one who makes a carved or molded image, an abomination to the LORD, the work of the hands of the craftsman, and sets it up in secret.’ “And all the people shall answer and say, ‘Amen!’
Habbakuk 2:18-19 — [the prophet wrote]: “What profit is the image, that its maker should carve it, the molded image, a teacher of lies, that the maker of its mold should trust in it, to make mute idols? Woe to him who says to wood, ‘Awake!’ To silent stone, ‘Arise! It shall teach!’ Behold, it is overlaid with gold and silver, yet in it there is no breath at all.
Deuteronomy 8:19 — [Moses warned the people]: Then it shall be, if you by any means forget the LORD your God, and follow other gods, and serve them and worship them, I testify against you this day that you shall surely perish.
Galatians 5:19-21 — [Paul warned the early Christians]: Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
Quite plainly, no idolater will make it into the Kingdom of God.
Acts 17:22 — Then Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, “Men of Athens, I perceive that in all things you are very religious; for as I was passing through and considering the objects of your worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Therefore, the One whom you worship without knowing, Him I proclaim to you: God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. Nor is He worshiped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things. And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’ Therefore, since we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, something shaped by art and man’s devising. Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.”
In summary, God wants us to avoid the practice of idolatry because:
Some have rationalized that they are doing this to represent God. They’re not making an idol of another God, but the true God. Still, it is idolatry — whether it is the statue of the Virgin Mary, Jesus, one of the saints, the Black Nazarene, the Santo Nino, the cross, crucifix, or rosary. We might have our good intentions, but God’s command is so clear. Notice these last three verses:
Leviticus 19:4 — Do not turn to idols, nor make for yourselves molded gods: I am the LORD [YHWH] your God.
1 Corinthians 10:14 — Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.
1 John 5:21 — Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.
God is Spirit. He is holy, righteous, and perfect. He doesn’t want us to create any kind of visual representation or reminder — a “crutch” if you will — in our worship of Him. He is so great and so awesome that He wants us to seek Him, pray to Him, and worship Him in spirit and in truth!
John 4:24 — God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”
Until next time, this is Daniel Macaraeg of BiblicalTruths TV, reminding you to always be growing, to always be giving, and to always be grateful.