By Ernest O'Neill

What is the Attitude Behind Idol Worship?

By Rev. Ernest O'Neill

Isaiah 29:13, And the Lord said: "Because these people draw near with their mouth and honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me, and their fear of me is a commandment of men learned by rote..." So they continued to look at God as the God of the universe but they paid him just lip service. They knew that he was the real God so they did observe him outwardly but in their day-to-day work you see what they did in Isaiah 65.

Isaiah 65:2, "I spread out my hands all the day to a rebellious people, who walk in a way that is not good, following their own devices." They followed their own devices in their Monday to Friday life. In other words, they worshipped the same idols as the Assyrians and they depended on the same powers as the Assyrians depended on for their life day-by-day. That's what the prophets mean when they accuse the Israelites of syncretism. Syncretism means that along with Jehovah, the Jews worshipped the gods of Assyria.

Now they did that not because they thought they were real gods but because they could make those gods into their own image. They couldn't do that with Jehovah. They could treat a piece of stone and make it say anything and that's why they worshipped idols because they could pretend that the idol wanted them to do what they were in fact doing. It's the same with us, you know, when we were children, tossing a coin whether you cut the grass or whether you go swimming. So, heads we go swimming. So you tossed up, tails, "Well I didn't toss it right. Okay, toss it up again. Well, I wasn't holding my mouth right. Okay, a toss-up. Ah!" We get the answer that we want, so we go. That's what they did with the idols.

They could make the idols say what they wanted them to say and actually you can see it in the very name of the idols. One of the idols was Baal and we mentioned it you remember a couple of weeks ago. They worshipped Baal but actually anybody who knows Hebrew knows that 'Ba al' is the Hebrew verb for own or possess. Actually, all it means was, they depended day-by-day for their life on the possessions that they had, on the money they could make. That's where they got their security and safety. Now God prompted one of His servants to say it you know in Isaiah 31:1.

Isaiah 31:1, "Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help and rely on horses, who trust in chariots because they are many and in horsemen, because they are very strong, but do not look to the Holy One of Israel or consult the Lord!" In other words, they depended on the power of their money and the power of their possessions.

In your job situation, every time you curry favor with the guy who has the power to promote you, you are depending on your horses and your chariots. You may say, "No, no, I am just being circumspect and prudent". No! You're depending on the same life source for your life as the people who know nothing about God as their loving Father. That's right. Every time you curry favor with the guy or the girl in your work situation who has the power to promote you or demote you, you are depending on the chariots and the horses of Egypt.

You're depending on the things that you yourself can control and to that extent loved ones, you're worshipping Baal. To that extent, you're a son of Baal. To that extent, you're not a son of God. To that extent, you're a child of wrath. Actually, you know it, when you think of it, you know it, because you know the worry and anxiety that prevents you from getting to sleep at night if you're depending on that kind of power for your promotion. You know it.

It's the same in a home situation -- a family situation that is chaotic. The moment you begin to depend on someone else continuing to be nice, in order for you to be happy in that home, that moment, you've begun to worship Baal. You've begun to worship things that you can possess and control and to that extent, you cease to be a child of God and you begin to be a child of wrath and you know it. You know it because there comes a day when they don't behave the way you want them to and suddenly all your happiness is destroyed and you can't sleep that night for worry.

So loved ones, the Jews had no experience of intimate, warm, sonship relationship with God because they worshipped him on the Sabbath but during the days of the week, they depended on the same life source as the people who didn't know anything about Him at all. They depended on their horses and their chariots, on their money and on their possessions. So it's the same every time you get worried -- when the bank balance goes down or the salary didn't come in as you hoped it would or there's more expenditure on the car than you planned.

Every time that tremor of worry comes into your heart, it's a clear indication that you're really in your heart of hearts, depending on the same life source as the children of this world for your reassurance and your security. Really! Because there wouldn't be a tremor or a worry if you really know that your heavenly Father has all the money in the world and will give you whatever you need and that your security is dependant on Him alone. But the more you go to the wrong life source, the more you'll fail to have an experience of intimate, warm, love, and care from your Father in heaven. Because the truth is, loved ones, that life source determines sonship, that's right.