April 12, 2022 Jason Hovde

The Idols We Make

The Idols We Make

On Sunday we looked at Deuteronomy 4:15-31, an extended passage where Moses warns about making and/or worshiping idols. Moses used reasoning to explain the folly of idols, the consequences that would come for those who served idols, and what to do if one worshipped idols. Put another way, what is the remedy for the disease of idol worship? In the sermon, I connected this passage with Romans 1, where Paul explains the sin that brings about the wrath of God.

I wanted to take a moment here to share a few more thoughts that didn’t make it into the sermon, but are certainly relevant to our observance of this passage. One thought I wanted to expand on here is about the motives behind creating idols. I mentioned in the sermon that part of the folly of worshiping idols is that we are worshiping something much lower than the Creator, who deserves our worship. Idols are the creation of man, and the idols we worship are really gods made in our image. They represent our own preferences, and our own arrogant ideas of what deserves our loyalty and worship.

We make gods in our own image. That suits us. You may think to yourself, “but I have never made an idol. That is silly. I wouldn’t be one of those who makes something with my hands and then worships it.” Well, fair enough, and I would never accuse you of doing something you haven’t. Sometimes, however, the idol we create is not a physical object, but an idea. Most, if not all of us, have done this. Sometimes our idol is our own version of who the God of the Bible is, or our own preferences about who Jesus is that cause us to highlight or exaggerate the qualities of Christ that make us the happiest.

Maybe you have an idol that is a Jesus of your own making. If we make Jesus to be anything less than what scripture tells us He is, we may have a version of Jesus that falls far short of the real thing. Someone prone to legalism may like to focus on the Jesus who turned the tables at the temple, but forget that Jesus also was gentle towards the weak. A person who focuses on the miracles of Jesus may forget that sometimes He didn’t heal. A person focused on the forgiveness of Jesus may forget that along with His forgiveness comes the charge, “Go, and sin no more”. Perhaps the Jesus you picture is from the painting of him holding a lamb, and you forget that scripture says He is the Lion of the tribe of Judah.

We all have tendencies to make a caricature of God the Father or Jesus that is incomplete, but please us because of our own preference of who we think God should be. We then make a God in our own image, rather than conforming our view of him to what scripture teaches us about him. Our upbringing, our own personality, or some other factor may shape our version of Jesus. What each of us needs to do is to keep comparing our own understanding of Jesus with scripture. Taking a humble approach to the Word of God, we ought to go to it each time with a willingness to have the Holy Spirit show us where we may have wrong thinking about not only who Jesus is, but about any other doctrine or understanding we may have that is in error.

Another thought about Deuteronomy 4 is that one thing that can bring people to the point of creating idols is too much comfort. In difficult times, God’s people will naturally go to Him for comfort and to His word for guidance. However, when things are going pretty well, we can start to think we did it on our own. Read the following excerpt from the Preacher’s Commentary:

It is interesting that the context of verse 25 indicates that Israel’s extended period of comfort will give rise to the idolatry which will result in God’s judgments on them. When the families are settled, satisfaction creeps into their lives. The result? They will forget God. No wonder Phillips Brooks said, “Sad is that day when we are satisfied with the thoughts we are thinking, the lives we are living, the dreams we are dreaming, until there ceases to be forever knocking at the door of our souls a desire to do something greater for God.” Sidney J. Harris expressed the same concern. “Our real enemies,” he said, “are the people who make us feel so good that we are slowly, inexorably, pulled down into the quicksand of smugness or self-satisfaction.” Moses is not going to be Israel’s enemy. He is passionately warning them not to become self-satisfied when they settle down in the land of their dreams […]

A life of ease has ruined too many people. Hannibal of Carthage had conquered the conquerors. He had even routed the Roman legions. But victory was not to remain his. One winter, battle was suspended and Hannibal and his army settled back to wait out the weather in Capua, a city of luxury. These few months in luxury were enough to destroy his army; they lost their will to fight. Their winter of ease made them an easy target for defeat in the spring.

Maxwell, John C., and Lloyd J. Ogilvie. Deuteronomy. Vol. 5. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc, 1987. Print. The Preacher’s Commentary Series.

There is a lesson here about how comfort has a tendency to make people lazy, and that includes in our faith. It is interesting to note that throughout Church History we find the times of greatest revival and church growth are the times of greatest difficulty and persecution. Moses’s warning was strong, but honest. There is great danger when we become so confident and feel so safe and have much comfort. In almost every case in world history where a great nation fell, one reason will be that the safety and decadence that was paid for by a previous generation is squandered by a generation who had not learned that valuable lesson of life that only can come through great trials and difficulty.

Therefore the Bible gives us so many warnings about complacency and apathy. God loves his own enough to cause them to go through great trials to draw them back to himself. Wise are those who strive for spiritual growth and maturity, even when they are going through relatively tranquil times. Let all of us, those who are going through a time of peace and comfort, as well as those currently going through the fire, strive to live up to the upward calling of God. (Philippians 3:12-4:1).


If you missed Sunday's Sermon, you can listen here: 915630--forbidden-worship

Here is the song I referred to in Sunday's Sermon: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nSkR9B5p6aI

Please try to join us for our special Good Friday Service and also our Resurrection Pancake breakfast and Sunday Service. There are a lot of special opportunities this weekend for you to join with the Oasis Church family in celebrating the goodness of our God and the triumph of Jesus over death. Please check on our website for more information about the Holy Week schedule here: https://oasisfl.org