Freedom Commandment #2: You shall not make images
“Being then the children of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and thought of man.” – Acts 17:29
Why is it that we think we can improve upon what God has spoken – as well as what He has created with His mighty power? Houses have very few “fashioned images” in our world, right? How silly we would look if we had our own crafted image on the mantle. And how much more if we made a little shrine around it, with candles and incense and little post-its of our hopes and dreams. Thank goodness we have evolved to more civilized pursuits.
Idolatry is not merely a temptation for humans, it is at the core of who we are. As you dig into an understanding of the chief false gods of the nations around Israel you will discover several things.
1) There is nothing passive about making idols for ourselves. It is active and it is consuming. The Bible calls this harlotry or what some might indelicately define as conducting ourselves like a whore. And it displeases our Father deeply.
“While Israel remained at Shittim (built by a tree), the people began to play the harlot with the daughters of Moab. For they invited the people to the sacrifices of their gods, and the people ate and bowed down to their gods. So Israel joined themselves to Baal of Peor, and the LORD was angry against Israel.” – Numbers 25:1-3
2) There are green trees (fresh places) throughout any land, and hearts are drawn away with the illusion we can worship our Creator at the same time as other gods. This never seems to work out for humans in any century. To recognize a high place or a green tree we need merely need to ask the question: “would the Living God join me here?” Think about it.
“But he (Ahaz) walked in the way of the kings of Israel, and even made his son pass through the fire, according to the abominations of the nations whom the LORD had driven out from before the sons of Israel. He sacrificed and burned incense on the high places and on the hills and under every green tree.” – 2 Kings 16:3-4
3) Finally (of many others) Baal was not a god of only one locality. This was the ugly beauty of Satan’s work through Baal – he (or she/Asheroth) adopted many forms and faces. It is almost as though he could adapt to the craving or fears of any person, group, or region. These were the many faces of Baal. A farming face. A city image. Those which appealed to males – and those to females. The options were simply unlimited. Everyone could find (and fashion) a face of Baal that suited his or her purposes.
There are several questions we must be able to fluidly ask and answer throughout our journeys in this life:
Are my current desires leading me astray into some sort of idolatrous gratification?
Are the people who influence me sincere in their desire to please the Living God?
Am I vigilant to expect idols and images to have huge appeal to me, and do I have the eternal internal compass necessary to identify and reject the many faces of Baal?
“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. You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.” – Exodus 20:4-6