The One Year® Chronological Bible, NKJV (Tyndale, 2013), August 8
You may not have a “god” on a shelf, but you still may be trusting in the fraudulent claims of an idol. An idol is anything a person trusts in, other than God, for health, safety, protection, security, etc. Idolatry is distorted worship.
God proved his abundant provision in the garden of Eden. He met Israel’s every need in the wilderness. He gave Israel the land of Canaan, with developed fields and gardens and furnished housing. They could trust the “Maker of all things” to continue meeting their needs. However, just as Adam and Eve distrusted the goodness of God in the garden, so Israel distrusted God’s goodness in the wilderness.
Shortly after inheriting the land of promise, Israel turned from trusting in the Maker of all things to trusting in the gods of the peoples around them. Israel saw the idolatry of their neighbors and copied their behavior, “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 . . . they cannot do evil, nor can they do any good” (Jer. 10:3-5).
An idol can be anything made by human ingenuity and hands. Wealth, government, science, religion, technology, etc. become idols when they become man’s security. Truths about idolatry:
- Riches become an idol when people trust their bank account, 401k, annuities, social security, etc. A wise person saves and prepares for the future, but ultimately his savings cannot save him. Savings are vulnerable to war, insider trading, and other variables.
- Government becomes an idol when people trust it to protect and sustain them. God often uses government to shield and bless people, but governments are vulnerable to time, corruption, and collapse.
- Technology can be a tool for good, but it becomes idolatrous when people spend enormous amounts of time entertaining themselves while neglecting their spiritual health.
- Religion becomes idolatrous when people substitute church attendance, giving record, ministry activity, or social service in place of the righteousness of Christ. Those actions are all good, but they don’t make a person righteous before God.
- People often purchase cars, houses, clothing, and other possessions to feel good about themselves; therefore, consumerism is an idol when possessions become a person’s security.
God created man for rich and rewarding relationships, but relationships become idolatrous when people rely on a particular relationship for validation and security. Death, divorce, and sin disrupt relationships, but the one who trusts in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior will never experience separation from the one relationship that offers security and validation.
Idolatry always makes fraudulent claims to provide blessing, fertility, rain, prosperity, or security. Jesus comes to give abundant life. He will not defraud those who trust in Him.
Questions from today’s chronological Bible reading (Jer. 8:4-11:23):
What role has the lack of Bible literacy played in Judah’s spiritual declension?
Jeremiah is known as the weeping prophet. According to Jeremiah 18:18; 9:10; 11:6-8, and 13:17 what inspired Jeremiah’s weeping?
What contrasts does Jeremiah make between idols and the King of the nations, and how does this comparison add to his weeping?