The Folly of Idolatry

wooden statue


Often times when we think of the term idolatry, we have a notion of this being something very old and ancient; therefore any of the negative connotations associated with the word no longer have meaning and are not relevant. Today I would like to challenge that notion in order to see that idolatry is still prevalent in our society today and needs to be addressed.

 He cuts down cedars, or he chooses a cypress tree or an oak and lets it grow strong among the trees of the forest. He plants a cedar and the rain nourishes it.  Then it becomes fuel for a man. He takes a part of it and warms himself; he kindles a fire and bakes bread. Also he makes a god and worships it; he makes it an idol and falls down before it.  Half of it he burns in the fire. Over the half he eats meat; he roasts it and is satisfied. Also he warms himself and says, “Aha, I am warm, I have seen the fire!”  And the rest of it he makes into a god, his idol, and falls down to it and worships it. He prays to it and says, “Deliver me, for you are my god!” Isaiah 44 14-17 ESV


While it is true that the text of Isaiah is ancient, the concept of Idolatry is still alive and well. In this scripture, we see that all of the details are oriented in the actions of self. The man does all of the fashioning and forming to meet his needs. First, he takes care of himself physically, and then he attempts to take care of himself spiritually. He fails to consider the origin of the Cedar tree materials in which he started. You see he gets it all backwards. He constructs his idol and calls it a god, while the real God who created the tree, brings the rain and everything else in the universe is ignored.

While there is nothing wrong with the necessity of meeting our physical needs, there is a problem when we fashion the works of our own hands into an idol. There is no possible way for anything formed by man to have the ability to create itself. The current best explanation for how everything got started is that gravity has the creative ability to form the universe. Really? So we are going to make gravity our idol? Well, that is what Stephen Hawking thinks. He attempts to make a causing agent out of something that itself is the result of a higher causality. In his thinking, he is making gravity his idol.

Humanity seems to be hard-wired to worship something. Either we try to substitute something for God, or we realize that the maker and sustainer of the universe is the real deal. Norman Geisler in his work titled The Apologetics of Jesus develops the following ideas about this scripture in Isaiah. He says, “Within this powerful imagery of the futility of idolatry is an implied argument for the existence of God.” His logic about this goes as follows; 1) Everyone needs to worship something. 2) It is futile to worship something made by human hands. 3) Therefore, there really is an unmade Maker who should be worshiped.

So the question arises, Is God the creator and sustainer of the Universe?  Or is there some man-made form of an idol that you worship?