Summary: The OT has a lot of interesting stories about idolatry, but is that really just a problem of the past? This sermon addresses the very real problem that our culture has in worshiping our own desires above all else.
To the reader: What inspired this sermon was a quote I read in R.C. Ortlund’s book, When God Comes To Church, p. 194.
"Self is the great idol standing at the center of our conceptual world, to which all bow low. We even have a duty-to-self ethic, as if self-denial were harmful, immoral, and deviant. ’I owe it to myself to be happy, to grow as a person, to discover myself, to fulfill my potential, to caress my victimhood, to get in touch with my feelings, even if it hurts you. I’m drowning in my duties. If I don’t break free, I’ll die.’ For the Christian, what happened to the all-sufficiency of Christ?"
INTRO: Some of my favorite Bible passages are the ones that point out the futility of Idol worship.
I can’t even imagine taking a piece of wood, or stone, or metal, and talking to it, or acting like it has anything to do with the direction of my life…can you?
(USE ILLUS IF YOU HAVE A wood carving or statue…talk to it about your day)
-One of my favorites is in Isaiah 44….OPEN THERE.
There has been a surge lately among some of the leading Atheists to push down Christianity.
-They will insist that what the Bible teaches is SO illogical…it DEFIES reason.
- I don’t think you’ll find any better common sense thinking than what is in Isaiah 44.
-Isaiah has observed people who not only worship idols, but who make idols!
-Listen as he describes this process for us:
-Isaiah has such a good sense of irony!
-A guy picks out a tree, or even plants the tree himself. Over the years, it is watered, and it grows.
- He cuts down there tree. He uses half of it for firewood, then he takes the other half of it, he cuts it and whittles it until it resembles a person, then he bows down to it!
-Isaiah seems so frustrated, “How can any rational person worship something that they themselves built?”
-Isn’t it a good thing that none of us worships something like this? We don’t, do we?
Isn’t it easy to see why something like this would make God angry?
What about the Golden Calf in Exodus?
-Moses had gone up to Mt. Sinai to receive the very commandments of God. Word for Word, God would specifically say what he wanted people to do, and how he wanted them to live.
-Along with this, God approached in a huge dark cloud, and shot thunder bolts, so that the people would hear and tremble at his presence.
- God spends several days, explaining everything he wants to Moses.
-This represents one of the most significant events that every happened in human history. God then writes down all his desires, carving them directly into stone tablets…they couldn’t laminate paper yet, back then
-Moses takes the holy tablets…the very words of God, touched by God…and Joshua begins a walk down the mountain with him…and they start hearing something.
-Joshua says, “It sounds like war!” They turn round the corner, and everyone’s up dancing the Macarena around an enormous gold cow!!!
-At the very time when God was showing his closeness to them, they were too impatient to sit there and be reverent.
OPEN TO EXODUS 32
- We adults like to think that Children are the only ones who need supervision, but sometimes we aren’t much better!
- Moses saw this and got so mad that he slammed the tablets on the ground and broke them, then he ground that golden cow into dust, put it in the water, and made them drink it.
ILLUS: Quick Life Lesson From Exodus: Never dedicate your life to something that can be ground into powder. Don’t worship something that can be diced into tiny bits.
- Doesn’t it just seem absurd that someone would worship something they made out of earrings and bracelets? Aren’t you glad we don’t do anything like that any more?
My favorite story involving idolatry is in I Kings 18. (TURN THERE)
- Elijah has the big showdown with the prophets of Baal. If Baal could answer, this would have been his big chance.
- Elijah gets them all gathered and says, “You’ve got to stop being wishy-washy about which god you follow…we’re going to have a contest to establish once and for all who is the REAL God.”
- Elijah was all by himself. Baal had 450 prophets.
- The deal was that each of them had one bull. They were to prepare an altar, and whichever God responded by lighting the altar with fire from heaven, that was the real God.
I Kngs 18:26-29
- No one. No voice. No answer. No one paid attention.
-And of course, Elijah prepared the Bull, then had them dig a trench around it, and absolutely drench the whole thing with water.