Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Habakkuk 2:18 The Foolishness of Idolatry Part I

I’m a diabetic.  My grandma (paternal) and both of my parents were as well, so I come by it honestly.  I probably could have staved off the disease longer by making smarter choices when I was younger but, well, it is what it is.  Thankfully, though, God in His providence allowed for the invention of Splenda.  Oh, how I love me some Splenda.  It doesn’t replace sugar, but it gets close enough for this old boy.  It’s a fine substitute.  Some substitutes are nowhere near as good as the real thing.  A man who cheats on his wife, for instance, and nearly wrecks his marriage and loses his son as a result (despite his protests of “She made the indecent proposal”) finds that substitute for love can’t compare with the real thing.  I would say idolatry falls into that same category.  Setting up something in your life as a substitute for God can bring a kind of comfort and assurance, but those are only temporary and shallow at best.

In fact, as we read through our passage in Habakkuk, there are things that God says about idols that I think hold true for all of them, whether they’re made of gold like a statue or brick and mortar like an office.  First of all, notice with me that idols are worthless.  In verse 18, we ready the rhetorical question “What profit is an idol?”  The answer, of course, is that there is no profit.  For that matter, there is no “prophet” in the idol either, but we’ll get to that later.  Anything that we make into an idol costs something, whether it’s wood, gold, or silver like the Babylonians or a job, power, or a boat like we do today. In order to worship and serve God, we have to spend our time:  in Bible study, prayer, ministry, and other things.  Well, if you’re serving anything in the place of God you’re going to do the same thing.  You’ll need to work one more week of late nights, make yourself look better at the expense of others, or wax and polish that boat just a few hours more.  The fact is, as human beings, we’re going to worship. 

Furthermore, observe in Habakkuk 2:17 the truth that idols are manufactured.  In fact, I would go further to say that sometimes people manufacture their own idols.  We find that to be the case in this verse because the maker “shaped it” and “trusts in his own creation”.  To illustrate the absurdity of those statements read with me the following passage in Isaiah 44:14-17.  I won’t reproduce the entire passage here, but the short version of the long story is some guy goes out, cuts down a tree, takes one log from that tree and makes a fire to warm himself and cook his food.   He fashions the other log into a wooden idol and worships it.  Now, that wooden idol that he is worshipping had a 50/50 chance of being the wood that he burned to cook and warm himself.  So he could have just as easily burned this thing that he is now calling “god”.  If that doesn’t make you want to guffaw, I don’t know what will.  The fact is, idols are not creators, and they are always creations.  And if I create something, it must, by definition, be less than me.  So what kind of silly person would I be to bow down to something I just made?  Exactly.

Finally, we know that God is a truthful God.  We He speaks, what He says is true and we can trust it.  People that trust an idol trust in a lie.  The text refers to idols as “teacher[s] of lies”.  While it doesn’t specifically say what lies are being taught, I would imagine some of them include “You’re ok”, “Everything will be alight”, or “Live for the now and take what you want”.  In any case, in contrast to our God who speaks truth, these idols lie even though they themselves are “speechless”.  I think that means they help the makers lie to themselves.  They tell themselves that everything is ok when in fact their soul is in mortal danger because of their sins.

As we look later at the passage, we’ll see more evidence of the foolishness of idolatry.  As we remind ourselves of that, we should also be encouraged to faithfully follow, worship, and obey God rather than idols.


James said...

Joe, did you see this latest blog post by Wade Burleson:


Joe Blackmon said...

Nah, Wade's been out to seed theologically for years. Nothing surprises me out of him anymore.