Volume. XXIII, No. 7
Sunday, 17 August 2008

The Futility of Idolatry

 “And the residue thereof he maketh a god, even his graven image: he falleth down unto it, and worshipped it, and prayeth unto it, and saith, Deliver me; for thou art my god.” (Isaiah 44:17)

Idolatry is a sin that recurs throughout the history of God’s people. The first recorded instance of idolatry in the Bible was in Genesis 35:1-4. This was with the family of Jacob. Just before Jacob arrived in Bethel, he commanded that the images be put away.

The first story recorded in the Bible in which Israel as a whole engaged in idolatry was the worship of the golden calf while Moses was still on Mount Sinai (Ex. 32:1-6). This not only angered Moses, but by their actions, they incurred the wrath of God. God wanted to destroy them but Moses pleaded with God to spare them. God deferred His judgement then.

This above incident revealed to us how God reacted to His people who worshipped idols. God detests idol worshippers more so if they are His children. The Bible teaches us of the destruction of Israel and Judah due to their continued disobedience and sin of idol worship which eventually led to their captivity by the Assyrians and Babylonians.

In the history of the divided kingdoms, all the kings in the northern kingdom of Israel were idolatrous, as were many of the kings in the southern kingdom of Judah.

Why was idolatry so attractive to the Israelites? There are many reasons but three main reasons will suffice for this morning’s article.

Firstly, the Israelites were surrounded by heathen nations who believed that the worship of several gods was superior to the worship of a single God. In other words, more is better. God’s people were influenced by these nations and constantly imitated them instead of obeying God’s command to keep themselves holy and separate.

Secondly, the gods of the other nations did not require the kind of obedience that the Lord God of Israel demanded. The God of Israel required His people to obey His high moral standards as defined in His law in order to maintain a saving relationship with Him. They had to consistently resist the tendency toward immorality and other sinful practices condoned by other pagan religions.

Thirdly, because of the demonic character of idols, idolatry at times produced genuine and demonstrable results for those who worshipped idols. The demonic powers behind the idols were able, though on a limited basis, to impart temporary material and physical benefits.

The Israelites had persistently deviated from the teaching of God’s second commandment. Consequently, God’s people were eventually led into captivity. It was only after the exile did the idolatrous worship of other gods cease among the Jews. This tells us that idol worshipping led to their destruction.

The contest between Elijah and the prophets of Baal at Mt Carmel reveals to us that our God is the only God that hears and answers prayers. The prophets of Baal danced, chanted, and slashed themselves with lances and swords for hours, filling the ground with their blood but their god did not answer them. They and their god were mocked by Elijah. Elijah’s prayer was simple yet effective. God heard him and answered him and sent down fire to consume the sacrifice. The futility of idolatry was very clearly revealed to us in this contest.

Idols cannot save. An idol is a mere piece of stone or wood, carved out by human hands that have no power of its own. Idol makers are men, not God. Idol worshippers act in vain. They worship a piece of wood or metal that is nothing more than ash or rust in the end. Idols cannot help them or bless their worshippers, let alone save them from eternal destruction. In contrast to the futility of idols, the Lord makes, helps, blesses and saves believers.

Samuel calls idols vain or useless things (1 Samuel 12:21) and Paul states explicitly, “we know that an idol is nothing in the world” (1 Corinthians 8:4). For this reason the Psalmists and prophets frequently mocked idols.

We often think of idols as statutes of wood, stone or metal. This is a misconception. In the world we live in today, idols are more than that. In this world of Satan, Satan has provided many things that can distract us from worshipping God. Satan uses the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh and the pride of life to tempt and lure us from our relationship with God if we are not careful. Anything that takes our focus away from God is an idol. Are we making idols of money, fame, power, career or possessions? It is easy for us to worship things we make or acquire.

All of the above are earthly things. They are temporal. Solomon warned us in his writing of Ecclesiastes that all that we possess are vanities. As believers we must live with a heavenly perspective. Let us be reminded to live a life that is pleasing to God and build up our reward in heaven. We are doomed if we make gods of our own choosing.

Idolatry manifests itself in various forms today (as mentioned in the above two paragraphs). Too often, men and women give themselves over to greed and materialism. The Bible admonishes us to flee from all forms of idolatry (1 Corinthians 10:14). God warns us with the statement that those who engage in any form of idolatry will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Idolatry is futile.

Dn Tony Law

More Lively Hope




Kitchen Rosters today - Team under Bro Phil Surman on duty.

All members - please read the proposed amendments to our Church Constitution, and if you have any queries please ask any Session member BEFORE the ECM.


Looking Ahead

ECM on 13 Sept for Amendments to Church Constitution.

Sparks4Christ Evangelistic Video Night on 29 Aug 2008, please invite your friends.

YAF Evangelism Programme - September30in30. Give out 30 tracts in 30 days in September. Please see Sis Clara Sim for more details. All encouraged to participate.

Special Lecture on “Creation and Evolution” by Dr Carl Wieland on Friday, 17 Oct 2008. Please keep this date free for this important event.


Praise & Thanksgiving

Journey mercies: Rev Errol Stone & Sis Lehia Paauwe (Adl/Perth); Rev & Mrs Kim Hok Lim and Ms Ivy Ng (S’pore).

Church activities: BBK Catch-up & Bible Classes; BSAG, Joy & Maranatha; E-Ministry; Sparks4Christ & YAF Bible Study.

God’s daily mercy, protection & help for us.


Prayer Items

Health & God’s healing - Rev George & Sis Nan van Buuren; Rev John & Mrs Christine McKenzie; Rev Peter Chua, Rev Peter Clements,  Rev Timothy Tow, Dr S H Tow, Preacher Zhang, Dn Yaw Chiew Tan; Bros Tommy Brooks, Colin Creaser, S Dhamarlingam, Makoto Kobayashi, Raphael Ng’s father, Richard Pearson, Winston Selvanayagam, Hans Ziegelmann; Grandpa Ki; Sisters Myung Ki, Alice Lee’s father, Auntie Oei, Fiona Paauwe; Margaret, Dianne, & Sarah Pearson, Aranka Rejtoe, Susan Veradi, Irena, Giok Yeo’s sister-in-law; & others in affliction.

Cambodia Missions - Bro Surish Dharmalingam & ministry in Strung Streng.

Laos Missions - Believers in Laos.

India/Pakistan Missions - Pastors & Believers.

Kuching Missions - Teo family.

Sketch n’ Tell Ministry - Pr H S Lim

Pastor Ki: God’s guidance as he prepares for his future ministry.

Pr David Weng as he prepares for his ministry in Hope. For smooth & trouble-free visa application & migration.

Journey mercies.

Salvation of Mrs Van and her family.

Job - Bro Cong Pham & Sis Lydia Fan

Sister B-P Churches in Australia: Faithful to the Word of God.

For strength & guidance for those under stress with their studies & work.

New church van by end of 2009. For God to provide $60,000.



© Hope Bible-Presbyterian Church
14 Bedford Square, Colonel Light Gardens, South Australia 5041