Biblical Idolatry (Updated)

Therefore, whether it be God or a creature that is imaged, the moment you fall prostrate before it in veneration, you are so far fascinated by superstition. For this reason, the Lord not only forbade the erection of statues to himself, but also the consecration of titles and stones which might be set up for adoration. ~ John Calvin

If this isn't abominable idolatry, there isn't any. From telegraph.co.uk

UPDATE: “Some of what we saw was an excessive expression of faith.” Such was the confirmation by Cardinal Rosales of Manila of the idolatry that is the Feast of the Black Nazarene. Is there such a thing as excessive faith in God? Certainly not, for excessive devotion is only reserved for idols!

Tomorrow in Manila, an estimated 3-4 million Filipinos will commit blatant idolatry against the one true God of the Bible. They will parade the wooden Black Nazarene idol around Manila for a whole day, touching, caressing, kissing and wiping it with their handkerchiefs and tears.

For a related post, please read “Idolatry By Any Other Name Would Be … “

Gross idolatry, in addition to social and sexual immorality, injustice and violence, was one of the indictments the Lord God made against his Old Testament people Israel. The northern kingdom was conquered and dispersed by Assyria in 722 B.C. Later, in 586 B.C., the southern kingdom, together with Jerusalem and its majestic Temple, was destroyed by the Babylonians. Although restored after 70 years, Israel never regained its former relationship with God.

Finally, Jesus prophesied the final destruction of Israel’s temple (Matt 24:2), signaling the end of its special relationship with God as his “treasured possession,” saying, “Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing its fruits” (Matt 21:43). His prophecy was carried out by the Roman legions in A.D. 70.

What did he say about their idolatry?

Exodus 20:4, 5: “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. You shall not bow down to them or serve them.”

Exodus 32:4: “And he received the gold from their hand and fashioned it with a graving tool and made a golden calf. And they said, ‘These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!'”

1 Kings 18:26: “And they took the bull that was given them, and they prepared it and called upon the name of Baal from morning until noon, saying, ‘O Baal, answer us!’ But there was no voice, and no one answered.”

Psalm 135:15-17: “The idols of the nations are silver and gold, the work of human hands. They have mouths, but do not speak; they have eyes, but do not see; they have ears, but do not hear, nor is there any breath in their mouths.”

Isaiah 40:18, 20: “To whom then will you liken God? An idol! … He seeks out a skillful craftsman to set up an idol that will not move.”

Jeremiah 10:14: “Every man is stupid and without knowledge; every goldsmith is put to shame by his idols, for his images are false, and there is no breath in them.”

Habakkuk 2:19: “Woe to him who says to a wooden thing, Awake; to a silent stone, Arise! Can this teach? Behold, it is overlaid with gold and silver, and there is no breath at all in it.”

And what was God’s judgment against his people who were guilty and unrepentant of idolatry?

1 Kings 14:9: “But you have done evil above all who were before you and have gone and made for yourself other gods and metal images, provoking me to anger.”

Ezekiel 5:11: “Therefore, as I live, declares the Lord God, surely, because you have defiled my sanctuary with all your detestable things and with all your abominations, therefore I will withdraw.My eye will not spare, and I will have no pity.”

Ezekiel 8:10: “So I went in [the temple] and saw. And there, engraved on the wall all around, was every form of creeping things and loathsome beasts, and all the idols of the house of Israel.”

Ezekiel 9:5,6 (God’s judgment on Israel’s idolatry in Ezekiel 8:10): “Pass through the city after him, and strike. Your eye shall not spare, and you shall show no pity. Kill old men outright, young men and maidens, little children and women…”

Jeremiah 7:18: “The children gather wood, the fathers kindle fire, and the women knead dough, to make cakes for the queen of heaven. And they pour out drink offerings to other gods, to provoke me to anger.”

But just as God indicted his old covenant people of their idolatry and other sins, he indicts all other people today for the same sins:

Revelation 9:20: “The rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands nor give up worshiping demons and idols of gold and silver and bronze and stone and wood, which cannot see or hear or walk.”

Revelation 21:8: “But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”

Click to enlarge

Notice that the worship of real, tangible idols such as the Black Nazarene is distinctly separated from what Christians today refer to as “idols of the heart” abstract principles, priorities, worldview and emotions such as money, power, sex and addictions.

Roman Catholics, of course, deny that they worship idols; they only “venerate” or “adore” them. But John Calvin is so spot on when he says there is no such thing as veneration—bowing down to or falling down before idols; kissing, touching, wiping handkerchiefs to be healed or prosper—without worship:

Therefore, whether it be God or a creature that is imaged, the moment you fall prostrate before it in veneration, you are so far fascinated by superstition. For this reason, the Lord not only forbade the erection of statues to himself, but also the consecration of titles and stones which might be set up for adoration. For the same reason, also, the second commandment has an additional part concerning adoration. For as soon as a visible form is given to God, his power also is supposed to be annexed to it. So stupid are men, that wherever they figure God, there they fix him, and by necessary consequence proceed to adore him. It makes no difference whether they worship the idol simply, or God in the idol; it is always idolatry when divine honours are paid to an idol, be the colour what it may. And because God wills not to be worshipped superstitiously whatever is bestowed upon idols is so much robbed from him (Institutes of the Christian Religion, Book I, Chapter 11, Paragraph 9).

Filipinos call their country “the only Christian nation in Asia,” but what can they show for it? What kind of Christianity do they show their non-Christian neighbors? Idolatry, corruption, immorality, violence, injustice and ungodly lives that are close to the worst—if not the worst—among Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim and pagan Asian nations. Many of these devotees are men who, after having participated in the Black Nazarene procession, will go back home to get drunk with friends, beat their wives, and go after the GROs at the nearby videoke bar.

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10 thoughts on “Biblical Idolatry (Updated)”

  1. To clarify, what is animism? Animism comes from the Latin word anima, which means “breath.” I believe it was Aristotle who originated the idea of anima or “life-force” projected into inanimate matter in the natural world such as stones, trees,  rivers and mountains. From the very beginning, man substituted natural revelation inherent in him for the Creator, as Paul accurately stated,

    “For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made… Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things” (Rom 1:20, 22-23).

    This is God’s clear indictment of the worship of inanimate idols such as the Black Nazarene.

  2. Brother I believe we must really think Covenantly and not like the Dispensationalists.  Not that you are espousing that but there is a lot of leaven planted in our heads about God’s relationship with national Israel.

    “Although restored after 70 years, Israel never regained its former relationship with God”

    Pastor Nollie of course they did not like in the days of Solomon physically manifested  but in Christ who is the Covenant manifest in the flesh their relationship never ceased.  Though exiled away God was with them. He even told them to settle down for awhile (70 years) and live faithful unto Him and when the due time came He would bring them back.
    He never forsakes His people for He is one with them in Christ eternally. Even during the days of Israel being the Northern kingdom immersed in idolatry and taking  His name in vain He preserved a number who did not bow their hearts or knees to idols but to Him alone.
     The same in times past before the nation of Israel from Adam to Moses.  The same in Judah. The physical temple was destroyed many times even to its final incarnation and later end in 70 A.D.  never to reappear again because the true temple from heaven came and there was no need for the physical.  Christ declared it destroyed even before the event and it’s fate was sealed by His sacrifice as the veil was torn from top to bottom.  It had passed on from God’s use.  If you think about it the Ark of the Covenant also disappeared before the first advent  but that didn’t stop God’s relationship with the Israel with God because it was not based on it but what was only a shadow of  Christ.   Throughout time God kept a temple being resurrected and gathered His people to Him and kept them faithful.  In the days of Christ our Lord on Earth the temple built lavishly by Herod was existent and sacrifices  and prayers where being made and God received them in the name  of Christ.

    The relationship is solid and never ceases  being solid throughout time despite the condemnation on those who take His name in vain and the trials the faithful had to endure in the midst of them. Like a faithful Great Shephard He gathers us and keeps us forever even now and unto eternity.  The problem we have currently is looking at Israel as a nation (OT) instead of the body of Christ on Earth or rather as the Church at that time.   People are locked into the Church being a new thing instead of the same thing but in a greater manifestation of the Kingdom of God on Earth as it has gone to the four corners.

    1. Good point, Tony. When I said, “Israel never regained its former relationship with God,” I was referring to those of Israel who were not his own in the first place. The nation Israel in the OT was only a foreshadow of the NT church which is an expansion to include Jews and Gentiles when Christ came.

      The covenant relationship of God with his elect is “solid and never ceases.” With those who are only united to him outwardly, in the OT as well as in the NT, his relationship ceases with them in their unbelief and repentance. But with those inwardly united to him, the invisible church in the OT and NT, the relationship never ceases through all their sins, chastisement, repentance, forgiveness and restoration.

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