“And God spoke all these words, saying, 2 “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. 3 “You shall have no other gods before me. 4 “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. 5 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 on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments” (Exodus 20:1-6).
Idolatry is having or inventing something in which one trusts instead of or alongside of the only true God, who has revealed himself in the Word” (Heidelberg Catechism, Q&A 95). See 1 Chronicles 16:26; Galatians 4:8-9; Ephesians 5:5; Philippians 3:19. The very first commandment strongly condemns the sin of idolatry.
Religious idolatry is seen in the two other major monotheistic religions: Islam and Judaism. Muslims, worship the Allah of the Qur’an. Modern Judaism worships a unitary deity defined more by rabbinic tradition than by the Old Testament Scriptures. Both Islam and contemporary Judaism are guilty of idolatry because they do not worship the triune God of Scripture.
Dr. R. C. Sproul explains that, “God demands absolute allegiance from His people, as we have seen in our look at the first commandment. Beside Him there is no god, so it is foolish to trust in other deities who cannot save (Isa. 43:11; 44:6). To refuse to worship Him but to worship another is idolatry, a grave sin condemned throughout Scripture (Lev. 19:1–4; Ps. 31:6; 96:5; Ezek. 6; 1 Cor. 10:1–22; Rev. 21:8). “
“Throughout biblical history, the idolatry that most of the prophets railed against was the serving of pagan deities, beings that people worshipped specifically as gods. Often, those who worshipped these pagan gods built graven images of them, and they constructed altars at high places—sites where these deities were worshipped— within the land of Israel (2 Kings 17:1–23; Isa. 44:9–20). Today, we see such crass idolatry within Hinduism, tribal religions, and cultures where professedly Christian churches merely paper over the people’s animistic and polytheistic traditions.”
Isaiah 43-44 addresses the subject of the veracity of the One, True God of the Scriptures in contrast to the foolishness of man, made idols. Isaiah describes the God of the Bible as the One, True God of grace and mercy (43:1-28; 44:1–8, 21–28).
Solely on the basis of His grace and mercy, God protects His people (43:1-2, 14-17), prefers His people (43:3-4), gathers His people (43:5–9), enables His people to be His witnesses (43:10–13; 44:6–8), prepares an eternal home for His people (43:18–21), fills them with His Spirit (44:1–5), forgives their sin (44:21–24), and will rebuild their Temple (44:25–28). The LORD does all this even when His people grieve Him by their sin (43:22–28).
The faithful work of God is contrasted with the uselessness of man-made idols. Idols are worthless (44:9–10), they are the objects of God’s wrath (44:11), are the result of man’s labor (44:12–17) and are wicked for idols blind man to God’s truth (44:18–20).
Dr. Sproul continues by saying, “Anything that we love more than God Himself should be considered an idol. Jesus makes that point implicitly in Matthew 10:37–39, when He rejects any who love their family members more than Him. The Apostle Paul identifies some individuals whose god was “their belly” (Phil. 3:19). Their appetites were so consuming that the Apostle viewed them as worshipping their stomachs. Every fallen culture has its idols, and we must be particularly sensitive to what the world is calling us to worship in place of the one true God. Neither sex nor power nor fame nor anything else deserves primacy in our lives, for none of these things is transcendent—none is the Lord and Creator of all.”
What are idols in your life? Take the time today to do an extensive heart and soul evaluation. Ask the LORD to keep you from the sin of idolatry by making you aware of anything you may love, which is equal to, or greater than, your love for the LORD.
Soli deo Gloria!