Lesson: How Do We Love God? (Day 19)
Let us continue our study of the word of God. Today, let us tackle Acts 17:22-25. The passage is as follows:
“Then Paul stood up at the Areopagus and said: ‘You Athenians, I see that in every respect you are very religious. For as I walked around looking carefully at your shrines, I even discovered an altar inscribed, ‘To an Unknown God.’ What therefore you unknowingly worship, I proclaim to you. The God who made the world and all that is in it, the Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in sanctuaries made by human hands, nor is he served by human hands because he needs anything. Rather it is he who gives to everyone life and breath and everything.’” (NABRE)
We now study the New Testament teachings to see whether or not God’s prohibition of carving, bowing down, or serving idols still exists. In this passage of Scriptures, the apostle Paul taught the Athenians how to be religiously right. We have to remember that we can be religiously wrong. We can only be confident that we are religiously right if we practice what we can read in the Bible and reject the traditions or teachings of men (Matthew 15:1-9).
The Athenians were very religious to the extent that they set up an altar inscribed with “To an Unknown God.” That was how serious the Athenians were about their religion. They did not want that a particular god, whom they failed to invoke, would get angry with them. But Paul wanted them to worship the true God, the Creator of all things, whom they did not know. If it is enough to unknowingly worship God, why did Paul correct them? So it only shows that we should know whom we worship because it is also possible that we worship unknowingly. I hope we truly know the God whom we worship.
Paul emphasizes that God does not dwell in sanctuaries made by human hands. But many people believe and teach the the church building is the house of God. Are they teaching the truth? Paul also emphasizes that God is not served by human hands. What does this mean? Could this be referring to images or idols? We will know the answer to this question in tomorrow’s posting.
Lesson: How Do We Love God? (Day 18)
Let us continue our study of the word of God. Today, let us tackle Isaiah 44:16-19. The passage is as follows:
“Half of it he burns in the fire, on its embers he roasts meat; he eats the roast and is full. He warms himself and says, ‘Ah! I am warm! I see the flames!’ The rest of it he makes into a god, an image to worship and adore. He prays to it and says, ‘Help me! You are my god’ They do not know, do not understand; their eyes are too clouded to see, their minds, to perceive. He does not think clearly; he lacks the wit and knowledge to say, ‘Half the wood I burned in the fire, on its embers I baked bread,
I roasted meat and ate. Shall I turn the rest into an abomination? Shall I worship a block of wood?’” (NABRE)
This passage of Scriptures tells us why idol makers and those who trust in idols are like idols (Psalms 115:8; 135:18). God describes them as the people who have no knowledge and no understanding with eyes that are too clouded to see and minds too clouded to perceive what they are doing. God further describes them as the people who do not think clearly and lack the wit and knowledge to say that they are really doing a hateful thing to God by carving, bowing down, and serving (Exodus 20:4-5) a block of wood or any material made into an image that looks like a man. I hope we do not belong to this kind of people.
How long will the people continue to defy the will of God? How long will they stop doing what God prohibited? How long will they keep on justifying their idolatrous practices? How long will they keep praying “Thy will be done” and continue to disobey the will of God? I hope we will all realize that we are very much better and powerful than the idols made by men. I hope we will live like humans as God intended and not like idols by not using our common sense.
So definitely God condemned the carving, bowing down, and serving of idols in the Old Testament times (Exodus 20:4-5). We know that this practice was an abomination in the sight of God in the Old Testament times. We know that we are now under the New Testament. Did God change His stand on idolatry in the New Testament so that we are now free to carve, bow down, and serve idols? Starting in tomorrow’s posting, we will study this matter using the New Testament Scriptures.
Lesson: How Do We Love God? (Day 17)
Let us continue our study of the word of God. Today, let us tackle Isaiah 44:13-15. The passage is as follows:
“The woodworker stretches a line, and marks out a shape with a stylus. He shapes it with scraping tools, with a compass measures it off, Making it the copy of a man, human display, enthroned in a shrine. He goes out to cut down cedars, takes a holm tree or an oak. He picks out for himself trees of the forest, plants a fir, and the rain makes it grow. It is used for fuel: with some of the wood he warms himself, makes a fire and bakes bread. Yet he makes a god and worships it, turns it into an idol and adores it!” (NABRE)
Here God, through the prophet Isaiah, describes how idols are made. These idols are like a copy of a man, and they are put in a shrine. These descriptions of idols still hold today. Our idols look like a man, and they are put in a shrine or a grotto. Again the idol makers do not understand what they are doing (Psalms 115:8; 135:18). They cut trees in the forest, which are intended to be used as fuel to warm oneself, make some fire, and bake some bread. While half of the wood was used for fire, the half of it is made into an idol, where the idol makers bow down and adore the idol.
This is very clear, and only those who trust in idols cannot see this vital truth. Those who trust in idols argue that they are not worshiping the idols but the ones being represented by the idols. We will see later in the series whether or not such an argument is valid before God. So let us open our eyes so that we will not become like idols, who have eyes but cannot see.
Lesson: How Do We Love God? (Day 16)
Let us continue our study of the word of God. Today, let us tackle Isaiah 44:9-12. The passage is as follows:
“Those who fashion idols are all nothing; their precious works are of no avail. They are their witnesses: they see nothing, know nothing, and so they are put to shame. Who would fashion a god or cast an idol, that is of no use? Look, all its company will be shamed; they are artisans, mere human beings! They all assemble and stand there, only to cower in shame. The ironsmith fashions a likeness, he works it over the coals, Shaping it with hammers, working it with his strong arm. With hunger his strength wanes, without water, he grows faint.” (NABRE)
This passage of Scriptures will help us understand why David said that those who would make idols and those who would trust in idols were like idols (Psalms 115:8; 135:18). In last Wednesday’s posting (Day 13), we learned that idols were nothing, that is, they can do no harm, neither can they do good (Jeremiah 10:5). In today’s passage of Scriptures, we are told that those who fashion idols are all nothing. So those make idols, which are nothing, are really like idols because idol makers are all nothing.
In Psalms 115:5 and Psalms 135:16, idols are described as having eyes but do not see. In today’s passage of Scriptures, idol makers have eyes but still cannot not see nor understand that what they are doing is nothing. Again those who make idols are like idols (Psalms 115:8; 135:18). They cannot see that they have to work hard to fashion an image. They cannot see that their strength will dwindle, and they faint if they are hungry and thirsty. They cannot see that they are more powerful than the idols because they can move and do many things, while idols cannot walk and have to be nailed so that they will not fall.
In Psalms 115:8 and Psalms 135:18, we can read that those who trust in idols are like idols. Yes, it is very obvious because these people have read with their own eyes God’s prohibition recorded in the Bible, but still they cannot see nor understand His prohibition of carving, bowing down, and serving idols (Exodus 20:4-5), which He repeatedly commanded through His prophets. I hope we are not like idols. Let us use our eyes, ears, etc. to understand that we hate God by carving, bowing down, and serving idols (Exodus 20:5). Rather let us worship the true God and forsake idolatry.
Lesson: How Do We Love God? (Day 15)
Let us continue our study of the word of God. Today, let us tackle Psalms 135:15-18. The passage is as follows:
“The idols of the nations are silver and gold, the work of human hands. They have mouths but do not speak; they have eyes but do not see; They have ears but do not hear; nor is there breath in their mouths. Their makers will become like them, and anyone who trusts in them.” (NABRE)
This description of idols from king David is very much the same as in Psalms 115:4-8. Idols are works of human hands. In this passage of Scriptures, David added that idols have no breath in their mouths. Is there any idol today not made by man? Is there any idol today that can breathe? Our idols today have the same descriptions as the idols that we can read in the Bible that God prohibited. So why vainly defend such a practice when God is against it.
Clearly it is the will of God that we should not carve, bow down, or serve idols (Exodus 20:4-5). So if it is the will of God that we should not carve, bow down, or serve idols, are we following His will if we carve, bow down, or serve idols? If we are not willing to do the will of God, why pray, “Thy will be done?” Let us remember that Christ said that only those who would do the will of His father in heaven could enter the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 7:21-23). Can we enter the kingdom of heaven if we carve, bow down, or serve idols? Judge for yourselves.