Liberating Truths About the Ten Commandments
“You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth.” Exodus 20:1-4 (NASB)
It’s easy to look at the Second Commandment and think: “I’m off the hook on this one. I don’t have any idols.” The problem is that we view idols only from a historical point of view. We read about the idols that people worshiped in the Old Testament and cannot imagine bowing down to some wooden idol or golden calf. But, when you examine the most common idols in the Bible times, you’ll find some striking similarities to idols we worship today. They have different names but, ultimately, accomplish the same destruction in our lives as those idols did then. Here are just three of the most common idols mentioned in Scripture. Let’s consider how these same idols continue to distract us from the one true God.
- Baal was one of the most popular idols among the pagan Canaanites in the Old Testament. It was considered to be the chief of the Canaanite gods responsible for rain, harvest, and fertility. The worship of Baal involved all kinds of sexual immorality as well as idolatry forbidden by God’s law. We may not call it Baal worship today, but how many of us have bowed to the god of sexual immorality and pleasure only to be broken? You see, we don’t break the Ten Commandments; they break us, leaving us in need of a Savior to rescue us. God created sex for pleasure and procreation within marriage. The Bible says,“Honor marriage, and guard the sacredness of sexual intimacy between wife and husband. God draws a firm line against casual and illicit sex.” Heb. 13:4 (MSG)
- Another popular idol in Bible times was the god of Molech. The worship of this evil idol was especially heinous. Its metal image was heated red hot, and little children were placed in its arms and burned to death. This was an idol of selfishness that sacrificed anything or anyone for self gratification. It elevated self above the welfare of others. Molech promoted death while the one true God came that we may have life and that life more abundantly, a life that is shared in community with others. Jesus’ message was to love one another. God urged ancient Israel to choose life – not death! How many countless children have been sacrificed in our society to the idol of selfishness?
- Jesus spoke of another idol called Mammon, the god of money and success. He warned His followers to not measure their self-worth by their net worth. He also reminded them that a person’s life was not measured by the things he possessed but, instead, what possessed him. He said, “You cannot serve God and Mammon.” He wasn’t saying that money was evil; but, expecting from our money and success the satisfaction that only God can bring is making an idol of it. Instead of making an idol of money, the Bible teaches us to “Honor the Lord by giving Him the first part of all your income, and He will fill your barns with wheat and barley and overflow your wine vats with the finest wines.” Prov. 3:9-10 (TLB)
To a nation that had departed from the one true God and broken the Second Commandment by bowing down to worthless idols, the Prophet Isaiah cried out, “To whom, then, will you compare God? What image will you compare Him to? … Lift your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one, and calls them each by name. Because of His great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing. Why would you ever complain or whine, saying, ‘God has lost track of me. He doesn’t care what happens to me?’” Isaiah 40:18, 26-27 (NIV/MSG) Too often, we forget that God cares what happens to us, and we look for substitutes to satisfy us.
Have you been worshipping the idol of sexual immorality and pleasure, the god of selfishness, or the idol of money and success only to feel broken and dissatisfied? The good news is that the one true God offers forgiveness and restoration. He can restore our lives when we turn from these worthless idols and worship Him. That’s why He sent His one and only Son to be our Savior from sin. Through His death on the cross, we can be reconciled to the God who made us and, by His resurrection, we can be saved from the grip these false gods have on our lives! Turn from your idols today and trust Christ! Be set free!