Idolatry - Today?
Some readers are probably thinking "What? What idolatry? Churches don't have idols in them today. And I don't have any little gods in my house. What on earth are you talking about?" So what is idolatry, in Yahweh's eyes? It involves more than just putting up a statue of a god and talking to it.
All nations and groups of peoples have had their own gods and goddesses. Some have overlapped religions. At times, a nation has adopted foreign gods and simply changed their names. Carvings have been used or often just an upright stone, pillar, or tree.
First, let's read some references on the subject. Let's see exactly what they did and how they lived. We need to see what it is that upsets Yahweh so badly. Then we will know why and how to apply this to ourselves.
From Nelson's Illustrated Encyclopedia of Bible Facts, by J.I. Packer, Merrill C. Tenney, and William White, Jr., pages 87 - 96 ---
"Certain features were common to most pagan religions. They all partook of the same world view, which was centered on the locality and its prestige.
"Most of these religions were polytheistic, which means that they acknowledged many gods and demons. Once admitted to the pantheon (a culture's collection of deities), a god could not be eliminated from it. He or she had gained 'divine tenure'.
"Each polytheistic culture inherited religious ideas from its predecessors or acquired them in war. The Romans simply took over the Greek gods and gave them Roman names. In other words, the idea of the god was the same; just the cultural wrapping was different. So one ancient culture could absorb the religion of another without changing stride or breaking step. Each culture not only claimed gods of a previous civilization; it laid claim to their myths and made them its own, with only minor changes.
"Life was quite unpredictable, especially since the gods were thought to be capricious and whimsical, capable of either good or evil. Human beings and gods participated in the same kind of life; the gods had the same sort of problems and frustrations that human beings had. This concept is called monism. Thus when Psalms 19:1 says, 'The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament showeth his handiwork,' it mocks the beliefs of the Egyptians and Babylonians. These pagan people could not imagine that the universe fulfilled an all-embracing divine plan.
"Because of this bewildering array of nature deities the pagan could never speak of a 'uni-verse'. He did not conceive of one central force that holds all together, and by which all things exist. The pagan believed he lived in a 'multi-verse'.
"Another common trait of pagan religion was religious iconography (the making of images or totems to worship). All of these religions worshipped idols. Israel alone was officially aniconic (i.e., it had no images, no pictorial representations of God). Images of Jehovah, such as Aaron's and Jeroboam's bull-calves (Exodus 32; I Kings 12:26ff) were forbidden in the second commandment.
"But aniconic religion was not always the whole story. The Israelites worshipped pagan idols while they lived under Egypt's bondage (Joshua 24:14); and even though God had banished their idols (Exodus 20:1-5), the Moabites lured them into idolatry again (Numbers 25:1-2). Idolatry was the downfall of the Israelite's leaders in different periods of her history, and God finally allowed the nation to be defeated 'because of their sacrifices' to pagan idols.
"Most pagans pictured their gods anthromorphically (i.e., as human beings).
"The opening chapters of Genesis say that God made man in His image (Genesis 1:27), but the pagans attempted to make gods in their own image. That is to say, the pagan gods were merely amplified human beings.
"Most pagan religions sacrificed animals to soothe their temperamental gods; some even sacrificed human beings.
"However, the gods were capricious, so worshippers sometimes offered sacrifices to secure a victory over their enemies (cf II Kings 3:26-27). Perhaps this is why the decadent kings of Israel and Judah indulged in pagan sacrifices (cf I Kings 21:25-26; II Kings 16:23). They wanted magical aid in fighting their enemies, the Babylonians and Assyrians - preferably the aid of the same gods that had made their enemies victorious.
"Ancient polytheistic religions operated at two levels: the official religion of the archaic religious state and popular religion, which was little more than superstition.
"Each ancient religious system had a chief god who was more powerful than the rest.
"In most instances the pagans built temples and recited liturgies in honor of these high gods. Usually the king presided over this worship, acting as the god's representative in a ritual meal, marriage, or combat. This was the official religion.
"The gods of the official state religion were too far removed from the local man to be of any practical value.
"In the ancient Near East, official religion was oriented to the state, while popular religion was oriented to the geographic locale. Ancient man saw no inconsistency between believing in gods 'up there' and another god 'right here' - all competing for his attention and servitude.
"In the ancient world, only Israel was fully monotheistic. But let us be sure we understand what this means. Monotheism is not simply a matter of arithmetic. Perhaps the most succinct statement is that of W. F. Albright, who says that monotheism is 'the belief in the existence of only one God, who is the Creator of the world and the giver of life…who is so far superior to all created beings…that He remains absolutely unique.' This made Israel radically different from her pagan neighbors.
"The eastern provinces had customs of worshipping their living rulers. Augustus Caesar combined the ideas of ruler worship and ancestor worship in the imperial cult. In the provinces, his Roman subjects worshipped Roma and Augustus together as a sign of their loyalty to the emperor. Throughout the empire, Roman subjects incorporated emperor worship into the local religion.
"Texts dealing with divination represented the second largest single category of the cuneiform literature in Mesopotamia (after economy texts). At its most elementary level, divination is an attempt to decipher the will of the gods through the use of magical techniques. The pagans believed they could use human skill and ingenuity to acquire from the gods knowledge about certain situations.
"The Old Testament forbids all techniques of divination (cf Deuteronomy 18:10; Leviticus 20:6; Ezekiel 13:6-8). The Bible calls divination an 'abomination'; for that reason, there were no prophet diviners in Israel. The confidence that divination put in human wisdom was an insult to God, for it reflected unwillingness to trust His revelation of truth."
From Smith's Bible Dictionary, by William Smith LLD, page 262 -
"Idol - an image or anything used as an object of worship in place of the true God. Among the earliest objects of worship, regarded as symbols of deity, were the meteoric stones, which the ancients believed to have been images of the gods sent down from heaven.
"Idolatry - strictly speaking, denotes the worship of deity in a visible form, whether the images to which homage is paid are symbolical representations of the true God or of the false divinities which have been made the objects of worship in his stead.
"Objects of idolatry - The sun and moon were early selected as outward symbols of all-pervading power, and the worship of the heavenly bodies was not only the most ancient but the most prevalent system of idolatry. Taking its rise in the plains of Chaldea, it spread through Egypt, Greece, Scythia, and even Mexico and Ceylon. In the later times of the monarchy, the planets or the zodiacal signs received, next to the sun and moon, their share of popular adoration (II Kings 23:5).
"(The modern objects of idolatry are less gross than the ancient, but are none the less idols. Whatever of wealth or honor or pleasure is loved and sought before God and as righteousness becomes an object of idolatry. - Ed)
"Attractions of idolatry - Many have wondered why the Israelites were so easily led away from the true God, into the worship of idols. (1) Visible, outward signs, with shows, pageants, parades, have an attraction to the natural heart, which often fails to perceive the unseen spiritual realities. (2) But the greatest attraction seems to have been in licentious revelries and obscene orgies with which the worship of the Oriental idols was observed. This worship, appealing to every sensual passion, joined with the attractions of wealth and fashion and luxury, naturally was a great temptation to a simple, restrained, agricultural people, whose worship and laws demanded the greatest purity of heart and of life."
From Illustrated Dictionary of Bible Life and Times, by Reader's Digest, page 185 -
"Although biblical writings suggest that the Israelites neighbors believed that an idol was the actual deity, in fact they believed that the idol was a sort of house in which the god resided. Through the idol, the god could communicate with worshippers, hear their prayers, smell the sweet savor of incense, and taste and eat the mystical essence of the foods that were offered. The idol - and the god it contained - was believed to go to sleep each night and awaken with the sun each morning. Once awake, the idol could 'speak', responding to its devotees' pleas through omens, prophecies, or the casting of lots, which could be manipulated or interpreted by priests to give the desired answer.
"Rulers consulted the idols in matters of statecraft and war; ordinary people consulted it for personal problems. Whoever controlled an idol also controlled the god that dwelt within it; therefore, capturing an enemy's idols was a major goal of warfare.
"Cities and states had important idols to whom everyone made sacrifices. Ordinary households had their own private idols - figures called teraphim - to which household members offered humble sacrifices. When moving, people took these idols with them."
From The Oxford Companion to the Bible, Edited by Bruce M. Metzger and Michael D. Coogan, from page 297 -
"An idol is a figure of image worshipped as the representation of a deity. Idols normally take the form of figures in the round or in relief.
"More than ten different Hebrew words in the Bible designate various types of idols. Some are distinguished according to the method of their construction: 'carved image' of stone, clay, wood, or metal; 'cast idol' of metal; 'pillar', usually an unhewn stone set erect. Other terms have a more general meaning of 'shape, form,' and thus 'representation.' The few with a distinctly pejorative sense are not technically names but terms conveying contempt for idolatry: 'abominations,' 'dung-pellets,' or 'unworthless things'."
From The Bible Through the Ages, by Reader's Digest, page 25-27 -
"There were great differences in how people saw their gods. In many religions of the Fertile Crescent, a symbolic face and form was assigned to each of the various deities. These images were reproduced as idols made in every material from precious metals to pottery. In most cases the gods depicted resemble humans, but some are partly or entirely animalistic in appearance.
"Not only were the gods thought to resemble human beings, they also represent both the best and worst of human behavior. They were capricious - alternately benign and malicious - and were believed to engage in periodic drinking bouts, carousing in the heavens while ignoring their subjects on earth."
From Manners and Customs of the Bible, by James M. Freeman, pages 104-105 -
"Zabaism - the worship of the heavenly bodies is the most ancient and widely spread form of idolatry, and frequent allusions are made to it in the Scripture. Its chief promoters were called Sabians, and sometimes Zabians; and the idolatry itself is known as Sabaism or Zabaism: probably from the Hebrew tsaba, a host. Thus the name of the system the objects of worship are indicated: the 'hosts of heaven'.
"According to Maimonides the Zabians made images of the sun in gold and of the moon in silver. They built chapels and placed these images in them, believing that the power of the stars flowed into them. They offered to the sun at certain times 'seven bats, seven mice, and seven reptiles, together with certain other matters'."
From page 107 -
"Idol temples and altars were surrounded by thick groves and trees, which became the resort of the abandoned of both sexes, and in which, under pleasure of idolatrous worship, excesses of the vilest kind were perpetrated. For this reason, God forbade the planting of trees near his altars, lest his people should become, or seem to be, like the heathen."
From International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Volume 3, page 1448 -
"Idolatry originally meant the worship of idols, or the worship of false gods by means of idols, but came to mean among the Old Testament Hebrews any worship of false gods, whether by images or otherwise, and finally the worship of Jehovah through visible symbols; and ultimately in the New Testament idolatry came to mean, not only the giving of any creature or human creation the honor or devotion which belonged to God alone, but the giving to any human desire a precedence over God's will.
"…the worship of the sun, moon, stars and signs of the Zodiac became so intensely fascinating that these were introduced even into the temple itself (II Kings 17:16; 21:3-7; 23:4-12; Jeremiah 19:13; Ezekiel 8:16; Amos 5:26)."
While touring in Israel we visited the ruins of an old synagogue called Bet Alpha. The most interesting feature was the floor. There, in mosaic tiles, were many designs, animals, and symbols. But what stood out was the Zodiac. Why on earth would that be in a synagogue, unless it were part of their worship?
The people did all these things, but what had Yahweh told them? Were these things in accordance with what He outlined?
"You shall not have any other gods beside me.
"You shall not make a graven image for yourself, of the likeness which is in the heavens above or which is in the earth beneath, or which is in the waters under the earth.
"You shall not bow to them, and you shall not serve them, for I am Yahweh your Elohim, a jealous El, visiting the iniquity of fathers on children, on the third and fourth generation, to those that hate me.
"And doing kindness to thousands, to those loving me, and to those keeping my commandments.
"You shall not make gods of silver along with me, and you shall not make gods of gold for yourselves."
Exodus 34:14, 17
"For you shall not bow to another god; for Yahweh's name is Jealous.
"You shall not make for yourself casted gods."
"Do not turn yourself to the idols; and you shall not make molten gods for yourself: I am Yahweh your Elohim."
Deuteronomy 4:15-19, 23-24
"There you shall carefully watch over your souls, for you have not seen any likeness in the day Yahweh spoke to you in Horeb out of the midst of the fire.
"That you not deal corruptly, and make for yourselves a graven image, a likeness of any figure, the form of a male or female.
"The form of any animal which is in the earth; the form of any winged bird that flies in the heavens.
"The form of any creeping thing on the ground; the form of any fish in the water under the earth.
"And that you not life up your eyes towards the heavens and shall see the sun, and the moon, and the stars, all the hosts of the heavens, and you be drawn away and worship them, and serve them; which Yahweh your Elohim has allotted to all the peoples under the heavens.
"Take heed to yourselves, that you not forget the covenant of Yahweh your Elohim, which He has made with you, and make to yourselves a graven image, a likeness of anything which Yahweh your Elohim has forbidden you.
"For Yahweh your Elohim is a consuming fire; He is a jealous El."
Soon after Yahweh released His people from Egypt, this situation presented itself. Moses had gone up on Mount Sinai to receive instructions from Yahweh. That is when Moses first received the tablets of stone. The people pressed upon Aaron to make gods for them. So he complied, melted down the gold jewelry they brought to him and fashioned an idol for them. It was only a replica of a calf, but look at the credit it received.
"And he took from their hand and formed it with an engraving tool. And he made a casted calf. And they said, these are your gods, O Israel, who made you go up from the land of Egypt.
"And Aaron saw and he built an altar before it; and Aaron called and said, a feast to Yahweh tomorrow."
The next day the people offered burnt offerings and ate and drank and partied. They were singing and laughing and dancing around the golden calf. What was Yahweh's reaction?
"And now leave me alone that my anger may glow against them, that I may consume them."
Moses pleaded for the people and Yahweh held back from totally destroying them. Punishment was exacted, of course: three thousand people were slain. But Yahweh still went further.
"And Yahweh said to Moses, whoever has sinned against me, I will blot him from my book.
"And Yahweh plagued the people because they made the calf, which Aaron made."
Drastic? This is serious to Yahweh. How much so?
"And be watchful in all that I have said to you, and you shall not mention another god by name; it shall not be heard from your mouth."
In The Land
After wandering in the wilderness for forty years with Moses, Yahweh had some final comments before they entered the land.
"Now, then, write this song for you, and teach it to the sons of Israel. Put it in their mouths, so that this song shall be for a witness to me against the sons of Israel.
"And I shall bring them into the land flowing with milk and honey, which I have sworn to their fathers. And you shall eat and be satisfied, and become fat, and shall turn to other gods; and they shall serve them, and despise me, and break my covenant.
"And it shall be, when many evils and distresses have found them, this song shall testify against them as a witness. For it shall not be forgotten out of the mouths of their seed. For I know their imagination which they are making today, before I bring them into the land which I have sworn."
And Israel definitely lived up to that. What was it they were supposed to do when they entered the land?
Numbers 33:51-53, 55
"Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, when you have crossed the Jordan into the land of Canaan.
"Then you shall drive out all the inhabitants of the land from before you, and destroy all their engraved images, yea, you shall destroy all their casted images, and demolish all their high places.
"And you shall possess the land, and live in it, for I have given you the land to possess it.
"And if you will not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you, then it shall be, those whom you let remain of them shall be thorns in your eyes, as goads in your sides, and they will vex you on the land in which you are living."
Did they do that? Did they drive out all the peoples? Did they destroy all the images and groves? Of course not. They were barely into the land under Joshua when they started disobeying. They continued to follow Joshua, but after he died, they really went astray.
"And the sons of Israel did evil in the sight of Yahweh and served the baals.
"And they forsook Yahweh and the El of their fathers, who brought them out from the land of Egypt. And they went after other gods, of the gods of the peoples who were around them, and bowed themselves to them and angered Yahweh.
"Yea, they forsook Yahweh, and served baal and the ashtoroths.
"And the anger of Yahweh burned against Israel, and he gave them into the hands of the plunderers, and they plundered them. And he sold them into the hand of their enemies all around, and they were not able to stand before their enemies any longer.
"Wherever they went, the hand of Yahweh was against them for evil, as Yahweh had spoken, and as Yahweh had sworn to them, and it distressed them very much."
But they were never so distressed that they were loyal and obedient to Yahweh through the years. By the time of Jeremiah, major destruction and captivity were approaching.
"And say, hear the word of Yahweh, O kings of Judah, and inhabitants of Jerusalem. So says Yahweh of hosts, the El of Israel; Behold, I will bring evil on this place by which all who hear it will have tingling ears.
"Because they have forsaken me, and have estranged this place and have burned incense in it to other gods whom neither they nor their fathers have known, nor the kings of Judah; and have filled this place with the blood of innocents.
"They have also built the high places of Baal, to burn their sons with fire for burnt offerings to baal, which I never commanded nor spoke, nor did it come from my heart."
II Chronicles 36:14-16
"Also, all the heads of the priests, and the people were continually acting treacherously according to all the abominable idols of the nations; and they defiled the house of Yahweh that He had sanctified in Jerusalem.
"And Yahweh the God of their fathers, sent to them by the hand of His messengers, rising early and sending, for he had pity on his people, and on his dwelling-place.
"But they mocked the messengers of Yahweh, and despised His words, and scoffed at His prophets until the wrath of Yahweh went up against the people, until there was no healing."
Were the idols always visible?
"Son of man, these men have set up their idols in their hearts, and have put the stumbling-block of their iniquity before their faces. Should I at all be sought by them?
"Therefore, speak to them and say to them, so says the Master Yahweh: every man of the house of Israel who sets up idols in his heart, and puts the stumbling-block of his iniquity before his face, and comes to the prophet: I, Yahweh, will answer him in it by the host of his idols.
"So that I may capture the house of Israel in their own heart, who are estranged from me by their idols, all of them.
"Therefore, say to the house of Israel, so says the Master Yahweh: turn, and be turned from your idols and from all you abominations turn away your faces.
"For every man of the house of Israel, or of the alien who sojourns in Israel, who is separated from after me, and sets up his idols in his heart, and puts the stumbling-block of his iniquity before his face, and comes to the prophet to inquire of him concerning me, I, Yahweh, will answer him myself.
"And I will set my face against that man, and I will make him desolate for a sign and for proverbs. And I will cut him off from the midst of my people, and you shall know that I am Yahweh."
It would be helpful to read the entire chapter of Ezekiel 20. It relates some of the history of Israel. Yahweh dealt with rebellious children repeatedly. He warned them and they would disobey. He would punish them and they would repent. He would bring them back and start the whole process over again and again. Just notice how many times He refers to their idolatry. Israel never learned.
New Testament Times
So what does the New Testament have to say? Did anything change? The apostles met in Jerusalem for a conference to discuss problems that were arising. They reached a decision on what to impress upon the newly converted Gentiles.
"For this reason I judge not to trouble those from the Gentiles turning to Yahweh.
"But to write to them to hold back from the pollution to idols, and from fornication, and that strangled, and blood."
Paul had a lot to say in I Corinthians 8 and Romans 14 regarding meats offered to idols. Some of the meats offered in the local markets had been sacrificed to idols and then put up for sale. If the people didn't know, they could eat the meats. They were not required to ask where the meat came from. But if the seller passed on the information that it had been sacrificed to an idol or a host referred to it, it should be passed up. Paul advised people, though, to be careful about eating such things if it would offend someone, especially a new brother. They were to realize that the meat alone was not a sin - it was not wrong to eat meat - it was the use of the meat that had been a problem.
Paul relates numerous things that happened to Israel and said all those things were for examples for us, so that we can learn from them if we will but listen.
I Corinthians 10:7,14
"Neither be idolaters, even as some of them, as it has been written, the people sat down to eat and drink, and stood up to play.
"On account of this, my beloved, flee from idolatry."
A Matter Of The Heart
Okay, so you don't have any idols sitting in your house. Does that mean you're totally in the clear? Do you know exactly what an idol is or is not? Could this involve more than just a figurine?
I Samuel 15:23
"For the sin of divination is rebellion, insolence is both iniquity and idolatry…"
"Then put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil lust, and covetousness, which is idolatry."
Now that's hitting closer to home, isn't it? It seems to refer to anything that consumes our thoughts - something we just have to have and think we can't live without -- anything that receives more of our attention and loyalty than Yahweh. That can include our mate, our family, home, job, car, material possessions, an entertainment idol, power, even ourselves! Anything that takes our eyes off our Father. He is to come first in our lives and hearts - no matter what. He sustains our lives - and He can end them in an instant. As we saw earlier in the quotes from Ezekiel, it doesn't have to be a visible idol; we can set up idols in our hearts.
From The Ten Commandments, by Dr. Laura Schlessinger and Rabbi Stewart Vogel - pages 28-29 -
"Part of the significance of the Exodus experience was the defeat of the Egyptian gods by the God of the Israelites. In the words of Exodus 12:12 - 'And I will pass through in the land of Egypt in this night, and I will smite every firstborn in the land of Egypt, from man and to livestock. And I will execute judgments on all the gods of Egypt. I am the Lord.' From the worshipped Nile River, to Re the sun god, and finally to the special status of the firstborn males, the Egyptians experienced the victory of the Israelite's God over those things that they worshipped."
From page 31 --
"Idolatry is dangerous at a personal level because 'gods', being created by man, are endowed with human characteristics. The baser human desires of unrestricted sex, violence, and selfishness achieve validity, permission, and company by being associated with the worship of that specific god: Bacchus and gluttony, Zeus and power, Aphrodite and love, for example. Goodness was a function only of desire and availability. Human beings never had to rise above themselves because those deities were merely extensions of human qualities. We simply need to create gods to serve and justify our desires and weaknesses."
From pages 41-42 -
"With just a bit of literary license, one could read the second commandment as follows: 'Do not make of yourself an idol.' When we think too much of ourselves, like young children who think that the world revolves around them, we turn ourselves into idols."
From page 47 -
"The American public has turned the pursuit of happiness into a form of idolatry."
From page 54 -
"A pursuit of the satisfaction of desire without the context of godliness is akin to idolatry."
From page 55 -
"Basically any activity taken to its extreme in spite of obligations to family and society, is behavior that serves the self and is a form of idolatry."
From pages 56-57 -
"When an individual worships his or her looks, it is a form of idolatry. Whether it is the physique of the body or the features of the face, many people are obsessed with their looks. We live in a society, much like the ancient Greeks, in which the body is worshipped. The body was considered a gift from the gods; therefore, the goal was to achieve perfection of the human form. Hercules, Adonis, Venus and Aphrodite were the godly ideal. Ken and Barbie are the modern role models for appearance."
From page 59 -
"Idolatry occurs when one holds any value, idea, or activity higher than God or morality. Even a godly mandated deed wrongly pursued can be idolatry - because it becomes its own end for the sake of the self (power, corruption, vengeance, control, domination)."
From page 60 -
"When members of religious groups decide that their perspective is above that of God - that is idolatry.
"Hypocritically professing belief, performing rote rituals, calling oneself a member of a religion without attempting to follow holy prescriptions, participating in church or synagogue with a 'social' country-club fervor - these can all be an evasion of holy duty, yet another form of idolatry, as practicing the 'religion' becomes its own end point."
From page 61 -
"The goal of the second commandment is to negate all the devices that diminish our godliness and further estrange us from the true God."
While contemplating all this, my human mind asked what there was about this that would really upset Yahweh so badly. I think I understand a little more now where the problem lies.
Humankind was created in the image of Yahweh and Yahshua. We are copies of them.
"And Elohim said, let us make man in our image, according to our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the heavens, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over all the creepers creeping on the earth.
"And Elohim created the man in his own image; in the image of Elohim he created him; he created them male and female."
From this we gather that Yahweh must look like us - a body, a head, two arms, two legs, and so on. And Yahshua is the image of the Father.
II Corinthians 4:3-4
"But also if our gospel is being hidden, it has been hidden in those being lost.
"In whom the god of this age has blinded the thoughts of the unbelieving, so that the brightness of the gospel of the glory of Messiah, who is the image of Yahweh, should not dawn on them."
"For let this mind be in you which was in Messiah Yahshua.
"Who subsisting in the form of Yahweh thought it not robbery to be equal with Yahweh."
Colossians 1:15, speaking of Yahshua Messiah
"Who is the image of the invisible Yahweh, the firstborn of all creation."
"In these last days he spoke to us in the Son, whom he appointed heir of all; through whom he indeed made the ages.
"Who being the shining splendor of his glory, and the express image of his essence, and upholding all things by the word of his power, having made purification of our sins through himself, he sat down on the right hand of the majesty on high."
So why is this so important? What is the purpose? What does that have to do with us?
"Because whom he foreknew, he also predestinated to be conformed to the image of his Son, for him to be the firstborn among many brothers."
I Corinthians 15:49
"And as we bore the image of the earthy man, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly man."
II Corinthians 3:18
"But we all with our face having been unveiled, having beheld the glory of the master in a mirror, are being changed into the same image from glory to glory, as from the master spirit."
I John 3:2
"Beloved, now we are the children of Yahweh, and it was not yet revealed what we shall be. But we know that if he is revealed, we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is."
We are to spend our lives transforming ourselves to be - to look like - Yahweh and Yahshua. Not in features and visible looks, but in character and image. How do we do that? By looking into his Word, to see what he is like so we can pattern ourselves after that. He doesn't want us to make an image of something to worship - He wants us to become an image of Him! That's one reason why worshipping an idol is such an abomination to Him.
"Therefore, brothers, I call on you through the mercies of Yahweh to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, pleasing to Yahweh, which is your reasonable service.
"And be not conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, in order to prove by you what is the good and pleasing and perfect will of Yahweh."
"The spirit himself witnesses with our spirit that we are children of Yahweh.
"And if children, also heirs, truly heirs of Yahweh, and joint-heirs of Messiah; if indeed we suffer together, that we may also be glorified together."
"That being justified by his grace, we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life."
I Peter 2:21
"For you were called to this, for even Messiah suffered on our behalf, leaving behind an example for us, that you should follow in his steps."
After speaking about the last days, the destruction of everything to be followed by a new heaven and a new earth, we read:
II Peter 3:14
"Because of this, beloved, looking for these things, be diligent, spotless, and without blemish, to be found in peace by him."
I Corinthians 11:1
"Be imitators of me, as I also of Messiah."
"Until we may all come to the unity of the faith of the knowledge of the son of Yahweh, to a full-grown man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Messiah."
Whenever there is a new addition to our human family, people crowd around to see. They want to see which family member the baby most resembles - which side of the family. We are likely to hear "he's the spitting image of" mom or dad or whoever. That is what Yahweh wants to see - children who look just like Him. Do you realize what the future holds for those who follow Him? Being an heir equal to Messiah! Inheriting everything! Living forever with Yahweh and Yahshua, in peace! You might want to read over these verses again.
In the words of songwriters - "Oh, I pray you'll make me over, till no longer you can see, my old will and nature living; only you Yah, no more me." We need to become His "spitting image".
Time To Think
Paul tells us the category that idolatry fits into, in Yahweh's eyes.
"Now the works of the flesh are clearly revealed, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lustfulness.
"Idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, fightings, jealousies, angers, rivalries, divisions, heresies.
"Envyings, murders, drunkennesses, wild parties, and such things like these; of which I tell you beforehand, as I also said before, that the ones practicing such things will not inherit the kingdom of Yahweh."
"But for the cowardly and unbelieving, and those having become foul, and murderers, and fornicators, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all the lying ones, their part will be in the lake burning with fire and brimstone, which is the second death."
"Blessed are the ones doing his commands, that their authority will be over the tree of life, and by the gates they may enter into the city.
"But outside are the dogs, and the sorcerers, and the fornicators, and the murderers, and the idolaters and everyone loving and making a lie."
We need to be sure to heed the advice of the Apostle John.
I John 5:21
"Little children, guard yourselves from idols."
We have eternity to look forward to. We can be privileged to live forever in the presence of Yahweh and Yahshua, because we remain faithful to them and pattern ourselves after them. Or we can face total destruction because we find something or someone that was more important to us - an image that we created or that we set up in our hearts.
It's time to stop and examine your heart and your worship of Yahweh and consider --- What is the most important thing in your life?