ANCIENT ISRAEL was commanded by God to worship Him only, and to avoid the ‘idols’ of the surrounding nations. An idol is something that is worshipped as a god.
Archaeological evidence shows the many gods which were worshipped by the Egyptians, Canaanites, Babylonians and others. They could be images of people, or animals, or monsters, or they might simply be rocks or trees. Some people worshipped the sun and moon. Often idol worship involved bizarre, cruel and depraved rituals. But there is something darkly appealing about it, and sadly the Israelites often succumbed to idol-worship.
Of course in the 21st Century we’re more sophisticated and we don’t worship idols. Or do we? Are there things which we worship—people we revere, or things to which we devote ourselves?
When a pop-star died recently, the media paid such glowing tributes to him that he was elevated to the status of an icon. Similar adulation is shown when a sports personality becomes a world champion. But does any human being deserve to be worshipped? We are all flawed.
And a little thought will show that there are many other potential idols in our lives: money, possessions, hobbies, technology…
There was an occasion when Jesus had to choose between serving God, or achieving power and glory in this world. He recalled the words of the Bible book of Deuteronomy: “You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve” (Matthew 4:10). He knew that acquiring wealth and power in the present world would be only of temporary value. He chose instead a life of service to God and to his fellow human beings. This led to his death on the cross, but his perfect obedience resulted in his resurrection to eternal life.
We all have a similar choice: we can worship the gods of this world, and they may give us transitory satisfaction; or we can worship the only true God, who can give us eternal life.