“. . . you shall not bow down to them nor serve them . . .”
— Exodus 20:5
Two sailors squirmed in church as they heard the reading of the Ten Commandments. One of them whispered to the other, “Well, at least we didn’t worship any idols.” Do you also feel certain you’ve kept this commandment? We often seem to think we don’t have to worry about this one, but if this is true, why do the Scriptures often warn against idolatry? God knew that we are religious beings who need to worship something. And when we cease to worship the one true God, we replace Him with idolatry.
God knows our weak nature, our need to follow and worship something that transcends ourselves. In fact, even before the words of the Ten Commandments had settled in stone, the people of Israel had broken them, committing spiritual adultery in Horeb by worshiping a golden calf beneath the Lord’s presence while Moses was on Mount Sinai. Jeroboam doubled the sin in Bethel and in Dan, creating two calves for the people to worship. Throughout the Old Testament, from Solomon to Zedekiah, the people of Israel pursued their idols to the high places and brought God’s wrath upon themselves, until Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonian hordes came, tore down the walls of Jerusalem, and carried the people captive into Babylon. In the furnace of Babylon, the last debris of idolatry was burned away.
Idolatry is an illegitimate way to fill a legitimate need. People have quested after a tangible God—one who can be felt, seen, and heard. Within the human heart exists the desire to see and know God personally. That need does not have to remain unmet. Jesus, who was fully God and fully man, satisfies that need, revealing God’s nature to us.
Have you set something or someone above God? Make sure you give God His proper place in your life as your Lord who deserves all your praise.