When one thinks of an “idol” or a “false god”, many different images can come to mind; images such as: human-like statues, animal-like figures, things made of gold and bronze, money, and items of worth. What doesn’t always come to mind are things like family, friends, popularity, hobbies, electronics, sex, relationships, and the biggest, which is one’s own flesh.? What exactly is an idol then? An idol is literally anything that becomes more important than God. When people think about false gods, the image portrayed is an image of a person bowing down to their false god and worshipping it, which is true. But bowing down and worshipping false gods can be as little as deciding to look at inappropriate content on one’s phone instead of finding satisfaction in God’s Word. It can be choosing to send that inappropriate photo if that’s what it takes to gain approval. And it can be as little as choosing to sleep in instead of waking up early to go to church. These idols may be small, but anything being put before God is seen as big to Him, the Creator of the things one worships.
One can see these idols in their daily lives, but what did idolatry look like in the Israelites Society? What does idolatry look like in American society today? And how do these two completely different societies compare and differ to one another? God speaks a lot about idols and false gods in His Word. In Exodus 20, God speaks to the Israelites and gives them the Ten Commandments. The very first Commandment God speaks on is the commandment of idolatry saying, “You shall have no other gods before me. 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” (Bible, ESV, Ex. 20:3-4). God makes it crystal clear that no gods of any shape or size can be put before him Him . God continues by saying, “You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the LORD your God am a jealous God” (Bible, ESV, Ex. 20:5). Not only is God saying not to put anything before Him, but He is saying that they shall not bow down or even serve them. Why is God saying this? The reason God said this is because God is a jealous God.
But if God is perfect and sinless, then how is He a “jealous God”? God can be anything that He wants to be, but in everything He does, He is completely holy and sinless. God isn’t jealous because of something He lacks, wants, or needs. He is a jealous God when His people give to another thing what ultimately and rightly belongs to Him. The Israelites had a habit of turning to other idols and turning their backs on God, even after He delivered them from 400 years of slavery in Egypt.
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