It is easy to think that we don’t struggle with idolatry… after all, an idol is a statue of some metal, sacred wood or expensive stone that you bow down to, isn’t it? As long as I don’t do that I’m okay, right?
In reality, idolatry goes much deeper than bowing down or praying to a statue. An idol is anything apart from God that we depend on for fulfillment, security or happiness. It can be anything other than God that we look to, set our hearts on and find motivation from. In short it is anything that we pursue and trust more than God.
It is easy to marvel at God’s gifts to us– all the things that He does and provides for us, whether that’s a relationship, a job, finances, future plans, etc. He has blessed us in more ways than we can even imagine. And we know that everything good comes from Him (James 1:17), so it makes sense that we would find enjoyment in all that God provides, right? But the problem isn’t when we enjoy God’s gifts, it is when we take that too far and seek to find our hope and confidence in the gifts, not in the Provider.
This happened quite literally with the Israelites:
And the people came to Moses and said, “We have sinned, for we have spoken against the LORD and against you. Pray to the LORD, that he take away the serpents from us.” So Moses prayed for the people. And the LORD said to Moses, “Make a fiery serpent and set it on a pole, and everyone who is bitten, when he sees it, shall live.” So Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on a pole. And if a serpent bit anyone, he would look at the bronze serpent and live. (Numbers 21:4-9)
This bronze serpent was created by Moses according to God’s command to be a symbol to point the Children of Israel to God. They were to find their confidence in their Jehovah-Rophe, the Healer God. However, the bronze serpent became an idol to them and the future generations of the Israelites (2 Kings 18:1-4) and had to be destroyed by King Hezekiah. What began as a blessing and gift from God turned into something that took their focus away from God entirely, as they looked to the statue for life, instead of their Creator.
We must be diligent to keep our eyes focused on Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:2). If we maintain the proper focus, then we can enjoy the gifts that God has given with thanksgiving, realizing that nothing in this life can provide fulfillment, security and happiness other than God Himself.
Prayer: Thank you Father that nothing apart from you can satisfy. Thank you that you are faithful to show us the futility of trusting in idols. Keep us focused on you, satisfied in you and resting in the hope that You alone can give.