Many people today engage in the service of many Gods or religions at the same time. Lord Jesus says “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other”. (Matt. 6:24).
The reason why people in time past engage in serving many gods is because they are not sure that one god or idol can meet all their various needs. That is why in Egypt people of old in the Old Testament books worship sorcerers/wizards/magicians such as Jannes and Jambres (2 Tim 3:8). Idols or gods such as Osiris (god of life and the Nile), Hatkok (wife of Osiris, goddess of flies), Hect (goddess of frog), Seb (the earth god), Apis (bull god), Typhon (god of animals, boils, pestilence), Shu (god of atmosphere), Serapia (goddess of locust), Horus (god of light), and Ra (Egyptian sun god). Similar situation was reported among the Canaanites, the Assyrians, the Syrians and the Babylonians. The Egyptians have over two hundred gods including god of the underworld.
There are four man religions in the world today which are: idolatory, Christianity, Islam and Atheism (unbelief). By far the greatest in number of followers is idolatory or idol worshipping and it is of course the greatest threat to humanity. It will be the one that will bring the wrath (fierce anger) of God upon humanity. God hates idols and idolators. “You shall have no other gods before me.” (Exod. 20:3); “You shall not make for yourself a carved image or 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 or serve them. For I, the LORD 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” (Exod. 20:4-6).
These are two of the commandments of God to man and man has disobeyed God in both. Today people are worshipping pure idols, in all kinds of forms and sometimes mixed with Christianity or Islam. Some worship Christianity and Islam together (Christlam) or Christianity mixed with Islam and idols (Chrislamherb) and they called it “three in one”. All these are not acceptable to God and they make mockery of God’s worship. This is regularly depicted in Nollywood films where people are going from church pastors to imams and to herbalist or diviners to solve problems. This is a reflection of what is happening in the Nigerian society today.
A master is something or someone such as possessions, materialism or wealth, a man, or a deity regarded as having authority, control, power, influence over another. Examples will include a person who is head of a house or institution, an employer, an owner, a person who teaches in religion or philosophy that people profess to follow (Jesus, John the Baptist, Mohammad, Elijah, Gamaliel, Nichodemus etc).
A master can be good like Jesus, can be believing like Philemon, bad like Potiphar (Gen. 39:20), inhuman (I Sam. 30:13-15), or a cheater like Laban (Gen. 29 – 31)
The two masters of this write up are God and Idols.
God is the supreme Being that created the heavens and the earth and all that are therein. He is Abba (Ga. 4:6), Almighty God (Gen. 17:1), the shepherd and stone of Isreal (Gen 49:24), Preserver (PS. 121:3-8), Redeemer (Is. 44:6) Defender (Ps. 18:35), Judge (Ps. 96:10, 13), Evalasting King (Ps. 47:2,7,8); Creator (Ecc. 12:1), Eternal God (De. 33:27), El Olam Everlasting God (Ge. 21:33), Father of lights (Ja. 1:17), God (Gen. 1:1), God of heavens (Jon. 1:9), God of hosts (PS. 80:7), Holy Father (Jo. 17:11), Holy One of Isreal (Is. 43:3, 14), I AM (Exo. 3:14), Ishi (Hos. 2:16, 17), Jealous (Ex. 34:14), Jehovah (Ex. 6:3), King eternal (I Ti. 1:17), Living God (Jas. 3:10), Lord God (Ge. 2:4), Lord of hosts (Is. 1:24), Mighty God (Je. 32:18), Most high God (Ge. 14:18-22), One (Is. 57:15), Potentate (I Ti. 6:15), Reverend (Ps. 111:9), Rock (De. 32:4), God of the earth (Psalm 24:1), Elohim (Gen. 2:4); El Elyon (Gen. 14:22); Adonai (Gen. 15:2); El Shaddai (Gen. 17:1); Jireh (Gen. 22:4); Rophi (Rapha) (Ex. 15:26); Nissi (Ex. 17:15); Yekaddia (Ex. 31:13); Shallom (Judg. 6:24); Sabaoth (I Sam. 1:3); Zidkenu (Jer. 23:6); Shammah (Eze. 48:35); Elyon (Ps. 7:17); Roi (Ps. 23:1), Jesus Christ, Holy Spirit, Meccaddescheem, the Sanctifier (Ex. 31:13), Rohi (Raah) (Ps. 23:1); Tsidkenu (Jer. 23:6), etc.
God is holy (Ex. 15:11), righteous (Ps. 116:5), just (Ps. 119:137), merciful (Ps. 103:8), loving (I Jn. 4:8 – 16); Jn 3:16), faithful (I Cor. 1:9; Deut 7:9), glorious (Ex. 5:11), longsuffering (Num. 14:18), compassionate (I Ki. 8:23), unsearchable (Job 11:7), good (Ps. 25:8), immutable (Ps. 102:26, 27), true (Jer. 10:10); Titus 1:1, 2), incorruptible (Rom. 1:23), a consuming fire (Heb. 12:29), gracious (Ex. 34:6), great (II Chr.2:5; Ps. 86:10), light (Isi. 60:19), perfect (Matt. 5:48), immortal (I Tim. 1:17; 6:16), gift giver (Jn. 3:10), none like Him (Ex. 9:14; Deut. 33:26), person, (Gen 1:1), Spirit (Jn. 4:24), eternal (PS. 90:2); omnipresent (Jer. 23:24), benevolent (Rom. 2:4), foreknowing (Isi 48: 3, 5), communion (I Jn. Verse 3), He provides, He creates, He promotes, He cares, He hears, He hates, He grieves, He is one, He is a trinity, wrathful, self-existent, self-sufficient, infinite, immanence, transcendence, incomprehensible (Job 5:7-9; 11:7-9), inscrutable (Rom. 11:33) holy (Lev. 19:2; Ps 99:9; I Pet 1:15), impartial (I Pet. 1:17)
an idol is an image or other material object representing a deity to which religious worship is addressed.
A greatly loved or admired person, a picture or object that is worshipped as a god.
A representation or symbol of an object of worship.
An image used as an object of worship, a false god
One that is adored, often blindly or excessively.
A false god that people made out of wood or stone or metals.
Bible defines Idol as anything that replaces the one true God. Anything or anyone can become an idol in our lives because whatever we love more than the Lord is by definition an idol. Anyone who worships an idol worship demon.
From these definitions we can therefore conclude that an idol can be: false gods, molten image, carved image, a person, possessions, money, ambition, ancestors, animals, demons, devil or Satan, power, heavenly bodies, objects beneath the sea, heroes, principalities, influences or stronghold, visible or invisible things God created in heaven or on earth.
There are many examples of false gods or idols in the Bible. For example:
Asherah – the chief goddess of Tyre (Jud. 6:24-32).
Ashtoreth – A Canaanite goddess (I Sam. 7:3, 4)
Baal – the chief male deity of the Canaanite pantheon (I King 18:17-40).
Baal-Zebub – the prince of the demons whose name simply means “lord of the flies” (Matt. 10:25; 12:24)
Dagon – the chief Philistine agriculture god and father of Baal (I Sam 5:1-7)
Diana – a grotesque many breasted Asiatic goddess (Acts 19:27, 35) popular in Ephesus.
Jupiter – the chief Roman god of heaven (Acts 14:12, 13)
Mercury – the Roman god of commerce, speed and eloquence. The son of Jupiter (Acts 14:12)
Merodach (also called Marduk) – the head god of the Babylonians Pantheon.
Molech – the most horrible idol in the scriptures. He was a detestable Semitic deity who accept child sacrifice (I Ki 11:7)
Nanna – the moon god of Ur of Chaldees, once worshipped by Abraham before his salvation (Joshua 24:2)
Nebo – the Babylonian god of wisdom and literature (Is. 46:1)
Nishrock – the Assyrian god of Sennacherib (2 Ki. 19:37)
Rimmon – the Syrian god of Namaan the leper (2 Ki 5:15-19)
Satyr – idol worshipped in ancient world (Isa. 13:21)
Tammuz – a Babylonian idol (Ezek. 8:14)
The statue of the beast (Rev. 13:14)
The statue of Nebuchanezar (Dan. 3)
The golden calf at Sinai (Ex. 32)
Rachel’s household gods (terrapims) (Gen. 31:19)
The statue of the unknown god on Mars Hill (Act 17).
Today, all countries of the world have at least one idol that is worshipped from the masquerade, Sango, oya, adamu orisa, orunmila, etc of Nigeria to the Illuminati of America or worldwide. Many are worshipping idols unknowingly to them by their lifestyles, ideology, etc.
Why is idol worshipping Growing in the world?
Idol worshipping is growing because of the appeal of idols.
Power. The people wanted freedom from the authority of God, priest or pastors. They wanted their religion to fit their life-style, not their life-style to fit their religion. People do not want to answer to a greater authority. Instead of having power over others, God wants us to have the Holy Spirit’s power to help other.
Pleasure. Idol worship exalted sensuality without responsibility or guilt. People acted out the vicious and sensuous personalities of the gods they worshipped, thus gaining approval for their degraded lives. People deify pleasure, seeking it at the expense of everything else. Instead of seeking pleasure that leads to long range disaster, God calls us to seek the kind of pleasure that leads to long range reward.
Passion. Mankind was reduced to little more than animals. The people did not have to be viewed as unique individuals, but could be exploited sexually, politically, and economically. Like animals, people let physical drives and passion rule them. Instead of seeking passion that exploits others, God calls us to redirect our passions to areas that build others up.
Praise and popularity. The high and holy nature of God was replaced by gods who wear more reflection of human nature, thus more culturally suitable to the people. These gods no longer required sacrifice, just a token of appeasement. Sacrifice is seen as self-inflicted punishment, making no sense. Success is to be sought at all costs. Instead of seeking praise for ourselves, God calls us to praise Him and those who honour Him.
God or Idols: Why did people continually turn to idols instead of to God?
Idols were tangible, morally similar because they have human characteristics. Idols are comprehensible and able to be manipulated.
God is intangible (has no physical form) and is Spirit. God has divine characteristics which is morally dissimilar to humans. God is incomprehensible and not able to be manipulated.
Worshipping idols involved materialism, sexual immorality, doing whatever a person wanted, and focusing on self, that is, being selfish.
Worshipping God involves sacrifice, purity, commitment, doing what God wants and focusing on others that is, giving selfless service.
Why did Israel (God chosen people) want To Worship Idols?
Worshipping idols brings short-range or quick benefits and immediate self-gratification in comparison to worshipping God whose benefit is long range and gratification postponed to near or far future. They want their reward in this world not in the world to come.
High morality and ethical standards are demanded when worshipping God because God is holy and perfect. Israel prefers idols because of the low ethical standards and sensuality involved in the worship of idols as seen in Exodus 32:56.
Righteousness is demanded in the worship of God therefore there is approval of sins of neighbors whereas in idol worshipping nobody cares about the sins of others. Everyone is a sinner in idol worship and there is disapproval of sins.
Idol worshipping is the worshipping of visible idols or gods represented by images that can be seen but God is Spirit (Jn. 4:24) and those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth. (Jn 4:24). Israelites like to physically see their God as other nations see theirs.
In idol worshipping selfishness is condoned and business relations improved whereas in the worship of God unselfishness is expected and business relations hindered because the house of God is a house of prayer and worship, not a den of robbers.
Strict religious practices are maintained and a changed life is demanded, whereas in idol worshipping religious practices is loosely regulated and change of life of the worshipper is not demanded and the state of the worshipper often becomes worse.
In idol worshipping compromise and cooperation are practiced. This is not so with God worship where ethical stand is expected.
In worshipping God, concern for others taught as in the church at Corinth concerning the love feast (I Cor. 11:33). In worshipping idols, no concern for others expected, children are burnt in fire or killed for burnt offering, fornication and adultery are committed in the name of religion, people are also mistreated by flogging to satisfy the idols.
The temptation to follow false gods or idols because of short-term benefits, getting rich quickly, food feelings, pain and sorrow relieves, easy “rules”, or convenience was always present. But the benefits were deceptive because the gods were false. We worship God because He is the one and only True God.
“Thus says the LORD, the king of Israel, and his Redeemer, the LORD of hosts: ‘I am the first and I am the last; Besides Me there is no God”. (Isaiah 44:6).
Idolatry is foolishness. “Those who make an image, all of them are useless, and their precious things shall not profit. They are their own witnesses; They neither see nor know, that they may be ashamed” (Isa. 44:9).
Isaiah asks us “who would form a god or mould an image that profits him nothing?” (Isi. 44:10). We think of idols as statues of wood or stone, but in reality an idol is anything natural that is given sacred value and power. If your answer to any of the following questions is anything or anyone other than God, you may need to check out who or what you are worshipping.
Who created me?
Whom do I ultimately trust?
To whom do I look for ultimate truth?
To whom do I look for security and happiness?
Who is in charge of my future?
If all your answer is God, then you are worshipping God. If part of your answers is God, then you are mixing your worship with idols. If all your answers is not God, then you are worshipping idols.
God’s warning concerning idol worship.
Psalm 16:4, “Their sorrows shall be multiplied who hasten after another god”.
Roman 1:24, “Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lust of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchange the truth of God for lie, and worshipped and served creature rather than the Creator”.
I Cor. 10:20 “The things which unbelievers sacrifice they sacrifice to demons and not to God”
Acts 15:29 “Abstain from things offered to idols, from blood, and from things strangled and from sexual immorality”.
I Jn. 5:21 “Little children, keep yourselves from idols”.
Rev. 9:20 “Shall not worship demons, and idols of gold, silver, brass, stone, and wood”
I Cor. 5:11 “Do not keep company with anyone who is an idolator – not even to eat with such a person”.
I Cor. 6:9 “Idolators will not inherit the kingdom of God”.
“Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatory”
Gal. 5:19-20, “Idolatory is work of the flesh and those who practice it will not inherit the kingdom of God”.
Rev. 22:14-15, “But outside are …. And idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie.”
Deut 6:16 “You shall not tempt the LORD your God.”
Matt. 10:37 “He who loves father or mother more than Me….. is not worthy of me.”
James 4:17, 18 “Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you….”
James 4:4; Matt. 6:24 – You cannot serve God and money, pleasures, or evil. Friendship with the world is hatred toward God.
God’s invitations To All, Particularly Idolators.
To enter the ark of safety (Gen. 7:1)
To consider the benefits of being saved (Isaiah 1:18)
To satisfy one’s hunger and thirst for God (Isaiah 55:1-3)
To test the claim of Jesus that He is the Messiah (Jn. 1:48; 4:29)
To rest upon Christ (Matt. 11:28-30)
To follow the Savior (Matt. 19:21; Mark 10:21)
To attend a great supper (Luke 14:16)
To attend a great wedding (Matt. 22:4)
To enter the kingdom of God (Matt 25:34)
To drink of that living water (Jn. 4:10; Rev. 22:17)
God has shown Himself to be Supreme over all creations and is able to save all that comes to Him. God is faithful (Jos. 23:14). The decision to choose to worship God or idols must be taken seriously and carefully. All that we achieve in this world will mean nothing if we are not saved just as success without someone to share it with means nothing. I appeal to you to make God your choice as this is the best choice. If you have made God your choice “put away the foreign gods (idols) which are among you and incline your heart to the LORD God of Israel” (Jos. 24:23). And give your life to Jesus Christ His Son.
To God be the glory for the great things He has done for us. Amen.