The Folly of Idolatry

The Folly of Idolatry

Jeremiah 10

“There is none like You, O Lord; You are great, and great is your name in might.”


            Any god that conforms to our thinking is a god too small.  Idolatry is not just worshiping an object that people make to represent God.  Idolatry is when we do God to our viewpoint.  The challenge in worshipping God is that he is so far exalted above us that we struggle to comprehend the depth of his being.  How does the finite grasps the infinite?  By making him limited.  Consequently, we conform him to what we think he should be rather than how he has revealed himself in scripture.  Instead of standing in awe of him and accepting his authority and word, reinterpret what the Bible says to align with our beliefs. 

            In Jeremiah 10, we find God ridiculing the idols of people’s making.  They take a piece of wood to craft a model to represent god. Then, they adorn it with silver and gold to “dress it up” to make it more ‘god-like.’  But a stick is still a stick, no matter how you present it.  Such is the folly of making an Idol.  Ultimately, it is not any better than a scarecrow in the field. It is not even powerful enough to scare the birds away.  These idols cannot speak and cannot move. They are nothing more than a piece of wood that cannot bring any deliverance and hope to their followers.  

            But idolatry is not just worshiping a wooden idol; it is worshiping any god we might make to replace the God revealed in scripture.  Idolatry is when we would set ourselves up as our own rule rather than allow God to rule over us.  We agree with God’s moral law as long as it agrees with us.  But when his law contradicts our morality, we reject God in favor of our own.  Thus we set ourselves up as our own idols.  This is the sin of humanity that we have set human reason as our god. Instead of surrendering to him and obeying his word without compromise, we minimize God by conforming him to our perspective.  We reject the morality and teaching of the Bible that we find unpleasant and disagreeable.  We reject his holiness and the moral standard by judging the Bible and its message based on our honest views. As Stephen Charnock points out, “This self-love and desire of independence of God have been the root of all sin in the world.  The great controversy between God and man has been whether he or they shall be god: whether his reason or theirs, his will or theirs, shall be the guiding principle.” Idolatry is not just the rejection of God; it is the distortion of God as he has revealed himself and his law so that it conforms to what we want. 

            In contrast to the false gods of the nations around them, Jeremiah affirms that the God of the Bible is unequaled and surpassing in his greatness.  He is the only true God; to reject him and his law is to risk his judgment.  Thus Jeremiah recognizes that we do not determine morality, nor do we decide on our own moral and spiritual destiny (vs. 23). This will only lead to destruction and judgment.  Instead, we are to come before God in humility and seek God’s corrective work in our life.  To worship God is humbling to submit to God and his word.  

            Take some time today and do a spiritual assessment of your life.  Are you surrendering to God and his word? Are you striving to obey his word even when it disagrees with your perspective?   To surrender to him and his word is the heart of worship.  The genuine worship of God is the act of submitting to him and his word in all things.  In this act we affirm that he is God.


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