Who do you regard as the most popular singing idol of your era?
We are all inclined to have our favourite movie star, sportsman/woman, sports team, singer, singing group, pastime, whatever. Who or what is your favourite?
The danger arises when we actually idolise that person, that team, that group, that pastime.
In today’s study, Habakkuk speaks about the images the Babylonians idolised.
Habakkuk 2:18 NIrV
‘”If someone carves a statue of a god, what is it worth? What value is there in a god that teaches lies? The one who trusts in another god worships his own creation. He makes statues of gods that can’t speak.
- Take a close look at the picture above what do you think is happening?
This could be a photo of a congregation of Christians responding to a Gospel message or worshipping Jesus Christ our Lord.
Alternatively, it could represent folk at a music festival swaying in time with the music coming from the band on the platform.
Maybe even a political gathering.
In effect, one could say that in each situation there is a danger of those gathered worshipping those up front.
Even Christians face the danger of idolizing someone in leadership.
- I wish I could affect lives as Billy Graham did.
- If only I was as good at leading a bible study as…….
- I attend this church because the pastor is so down to earth.
It is so easy for us to become caught up in making idols of performance, publicity, personalities, personal ability, popularity, pleasure, prosperity.
A created idol
“What you are to a paper airplane, God is to you. Take a sheet of paper and make one [a paper airplane]. Contrast yourself with your creation. …The thing has no brainwaves. no pulse. It exists only because you formed it and flies only when someone throws it.” (Max Lucado – ‘It’s not about me.’)
No way can an idol created by human hands, be of help to the one who created it. As Max Lucado points out the person who creates is always greater than whatever he has created. It is pure foolishness to believe that a man-made object is able to actively guide and direct humans. Idols cannot speak, so they cannot provide any form of true guidance.
But then Christians do not make idols and worship them, do they?
- Do you perhaps have the idol of pagan religion in a prominent place in your home? a little buddha? an African mask?, a Muslim prayer mat? a Koran? I trust you don’t worship that item.
- But is it wise to even have an object that is worshipped or used by pagans in your home?
“Do not make idols that look like anything in the sky or on earth or in the ocean under the earth. Don’t bow down and worship idols. I am the LORD your God, and I demand all your love.…” (Exodus 20:3-5a CEV)
- What about other items that are worshipped by mankind today?
People are often inclined to worship man-made things like motor cars, houses, boats, jewellery, and art. All of us appreciate beautiful and useful things, but to become so passionate about possessing them makes them the centre of our worship.
A Human idol
- As I mentioned at the start of this study, we all have an inclination to indulge in hero worship at times. Who do you tend to idolize? Be honest.
A very real area of idolatry is our inclination to focus our attention and admiration on man rather than on God. Famous people such as politicians, sportsmen and women, the wealthy, and movie stars are so readily idolized.
Popularity, success or a high IQ can all become idols too.
Unfortunately, people we care a lot for can also slip into the category of an idol – boyfriend, girlfriend, parent, child, pastor, team leader, marriage partner to the extent that they take the place that only God should hold.
Self-worth is another dangerous area of ungodly worship. We become so absorbed with our self-worth that it upsets us when others don’t show us the respect that we feel we deserve.
Our adversary the devil is the chief exponent of this degree of self-worship.
In Isaiah 14:12-14 (CEV) we find reference to Lucifer who is identified with Satan. Lucifer was a fallen angel whom Isaiah calls the ‘son of the morning’. He is accused of having tried to be like God. For this pride-filled ambition, he was cast down to the deep world of the dead (Isaiah 14:15 CEV)
Ever since he has sought to thwart any and all human effort to worship the one true God, Satan has enticed us to focus our attention on things, on people, on ourselves. He even tried to get our Lord to worship him.
The devil said to him (Jesus), “I will give all this to you (all the kingdoms of the earth and their power – Matthew 4:8 CEV) , if you will bow down and worship me.”
Jesus answered, “Go away Satan! The Scriptures say: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve only him.’ “(Matthew 4:9,10 CEV)
“Worship humbles the smug and lifts the deflated. Worship adjusts us, lowering the chin of the haughty, straightening the back of the hardened.’ (Spend 365 days reading the Bible with Max Lucado.)
John 4 records how, at a well on the outskirts of the village of Sychar, a woman tried to get into a debate with Jesus over the correct place to worship God.
Jesus response was in effect, the place of worship is not the issue. The important factor is the one who is the focus of your worship. He went on to say,
“But a time is coming, and it is already here! Even now the true worshipers are being led by the Spirit to worship the Father according to the truth. These are the ones the Father is seeking to worship him.” (John 4:23 CEV)
The Babylonian focus for worship was lifeless, worthless, speechless inactive idols.
The focus of our worship as Christians is not on things or personalities or even ourselves, but the living God, through His Son Jesus Christ. As we open our lives to Jesus we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. He then orchestrates and focuses our worship on our gracious Heavenly Father.
God is Spirit, and only by the power of his Spirit can people worship him as he really is.” (John 4:24 GNB)
Take a look around your home. Do you have any objects that are idols in another faith? Should you discard them?
Invite the Holy Spirit now to enable you to worship God and Him only.
P.S. If you haven’t yet read the background to the prophecy, please do. It will benefit you throughout this series of studies.