By God’s grace, we can overcome the temptation to worship these good things in their own right. [78], Paul commended the church in Thessalonica saying, "Your faith in God has become known everywhere … They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath. [2] In the New Testament covetousness (greed) is defined as idolatry. Rather than alternate deities condemned by monotheism, these demons are portrayed by Augustine as malevolent beings seeking not to rule as much as to seduce people into sharing eternal punishment, much as a twisted criminal might implicate an innocent person to feed his own malevolence. In his exposition of Psalm 96, Augustine of Hippo agreed with the psalmist's description of inanimate idols, and he recalled Paul's words to the Corinthians that sacrifices to such are offered to demons. Idol, Image in Unger, Merrill F., The New Unger’s Bible Dictionary, Harrison, R.K., ed., 2005, Chicago: Moody Publishers. Some religions misunderstand the second commandment; they combine the second commandment with the first.

By idols, Wesley interpreted this verse to mean any thing or priority to which one's heart is given rather than to God. The distinctive element of idolatry is the human-made nature of the idol. [34], According to the Book of Joshua, Abraham came from a land and a family that worshiped strange gods. [4] Some scholars opine that the pagans in the Hebrew Bible did not literally worship the objects themselves, so that the issue of idolatry is really concerned with whether one is pursuing a "false god" or "the true God". The story of a family forging an idol with the intent to manipulate God, and the disastrous personal, social, and economic consequences that follow, are memorably told in Judges 17-21. "[62] The Talmud discusses the subject of idolatry in many passages. The Second Commandment against idolatry is recorded in Exodus 20:4-6: “You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. God, however, is the "living God" (Joshua 3:10; Psalm 42:3; etc.) "[6] The people remain ambivalent until the victory of Yahweh is clear, at which point they execute the 450 prophets of Baal said to be present. They are described as being only the work of men's hands, unable to speak, see, hear, smell, eat, grasp, or feel, and powerless either to injure or to benefit. According to Acts of the Apostles, the apostles discussed the issue of what immediate behavioral changes would be required of gentiles who became followers of Jesus Christ at the Council of Jerusalem. Martin Luther taught that whatever a person places their trust or priorities in, other than God, can become an idol. As God’s people, we must recognize when we begin to idolize them. 2, Jackson, T., ed., London: J. Kershaw, 1825, pp. [41], The ancient understanding apparently did not conflict with the artistic rendering of created things, and the Bible describes the Tabernacle, and later the Temple, as having tapestries and objects incorporating cherubim, flowers, fruits, trees, and animals. He considered it common sense that the worship of God and the worship of any other spiritual being are incompatible: Therefore, my dear friends, flee from idolatry.

In ancient times, idolatry often took the form of worshiping physical objects. [35] However, when their God revealed himself to Abraham and called him to leave his native land for Canaan, he did so. Idol: Images in the ANE, The Anchor Bible Dictionary, Freedman, David N, editor-in-chief, 1992, New York: Doubleday. [45], A narrative in 1 Kings 12:28-30 describes how Jeroboam had golden calves made for places of worship at Bethel and Dan.

1108-1109. Unger, Merrill F., Harrison, R.K., ed. [64], Maimonedes warned that special objects (such as the mezuzah) and special prayers (such as the shema) are intended to remind people of love for God and his precepts and do not in themselves guarantee good fortune (they are not to become idols). Much of biblical preaching from the time of Moses to the exile is predicated on the either–or choice between exclusive worship of God and idols. For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. [53] This led to a broken covenant between Yahweh and Israel and "divorce",[54] manifested as defeat by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon followed by exile, from which the northern kingdom never recovered. They decided to instruct new converts: "You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and fr… Rather than scorn the Israelites for falling into the worship of idols, Luther commented that people are spiritual beings, who know there is a divine authority and easily fall into idolatry because of our fallen nature. B. Eardman’s Publishing Company, 1988. As they face being burned alive in a furnace, they communicate their faith as well as their resolve: "If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. As Lev 26:47-55 legislated for cases where Israelites are driven by extreme poverty to sell themselves to a heathen, and when they may be compelled to continue in this service to the year of jubile, and thus be obliged to witness idolatrous practices, the Lawgiver solemnly repeats the two fundamental precepts of Judaism, which they might be in danger of neglecting, viz., to abstain from idol-worship and to keep the Sabbath, which are two essential commandments of the Decalogue. In addition to the spiritual aspect of their worship, peoples in the Ancient Near East took great care to physically maintain their cult idols and thought that the instructions for their manufacture and maintenance came from the spirit of the god. Idol: In the Exile and After, in HarperCollins Bible Dictionary, 1996, Achtemeier Paul J., ed., New York: HarperCollins Publishers. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him [Jesus] from the dead. John Wesley, preached on the text of the Apostle John, “Dear children, keep yourselves from idols. Are we stronger than he?

[1], Although no single biblical passage contains a complete definition of idolatry, the subject is addressed in numerous passages, so that idolatry may be summarized as the worship of idols or images; the worship of polytheistic gods by use of idols or images; the worship of created things (trees, rocks, animals, astronomical bodies, or another human being); and the use of idols in the worship of God (YHWH Elohim, the God of Israel). Anything that is not capable of fulfilling our hope—that is, anything other than God—is an idol, whether or not it is a physical object. The same may occur with virtually every other element of success, including preparation, hard work, creativity, risk, wealth and other resources, and favorable circumstances. [40], The commandments in the Hebrew Bible against idolatry also forbade the adoption of the beliefs and practices of the nations who lived around the Israelites at the time, especially the religions of ancient Mesopotamia, and Egypt. [59] By the time the Talmud was written, the acceptance or rejection of idolatry was a litmus test for Jewish identity:[60] "Whosoever denies idols is called a Jew". Deut 5:6-9), Because God's identity and transcendent character are described in Scripture as unique,[82] the teaching of the Catholic Church proscribes superstition as well as irreligion and explains the commandment is broken by having images to which divine power is ascribed as well as in divinizing anything that is not God. During the time of the exile, Nebuchadnezzar erects a gold statue of himself and commands all subjects to worship it. God in the OT, The Anchor Bible Dictionary, Vol II, 1992. [46] The language used by Jeroboam to introduce the worship of these idols to Israel was very similar to that used by Aaron with regard to the golden calf at Mount Sinai. Davidson, Robert, Jeremiah, Westminster John Knox Press, 1983. As workers, we have to recognize how important these are. "[51] Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Hosea referred to Israel's worship of other gods as spiritual adultery:[52] "How I have been grieved by their adulterous hearts, which have turned away from me, and by their eyes, which have lusted after their idols".