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From Being An Instrument Of God To Becoming An Idol Of Men


In the beginning, man was created to praise God, glorify Him and worship Him forever.

But sin entered into mankind, and changed the holy worship of the Creator to the unholy idolatry of the created creatures!

Since then, we began to worship and glorify ourselves, and anything that would bring personal pleasure to our lives.

Instead of worshipping the invisible God, we now worship the visible things or persons.

Instead of walking by faith and not by sight, we walk by what we can see, feel, touch or perceive.

Even an instrument used by God initially can be turned into an idol eventually.

A good example is the bronze serpent that God instructed Moses to lift up in the wilderness in order to bring healing to those that were bitten by fiery serpents.

Numbers 21:4-9
Then they journeyed from Mount Hor
by the Way of the Red Sea,
to go around the land of Edom;
and the soul of the people
became very discouraged on the way.

And the people spoke
against God and against Moses:

“Why have you brought us up
out of Egypt to die in the wilderness?
 
For there is no food and no water,
and our soul loathes this worthless bread.”

So the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people,
and they bit the people;
and many of the people of Israel died.

Therefore the people came to Moses,
and said, “We have sinned,
for we have spoken against the Lord and against you;
pray to the Lord that He take away the serpents from us.”

So Moses prayed for the people.

Then the Lord said to Moses,
“Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a pole;
and it shall be that everyone who is bitten,
when he looks at it, shall live.”

So Moses made a bronze serpent,
and put it on a pole; and so it was,
if a serpent had bitten anyone,
when he looked at the bronze serpent, he lived.

In their journey to the Promised Land, the people of God became weary, and murmured against God and against Moses. God sent an epidemic among them.

Then they acknowledged their sins. God was gracious and merciful. He asked Moses to make a bronze serpent. It was an instrument of God to bring healing to His people.

But soon afterwards, the Israelites turned the metallic object into an idol! They began to burn incense and worship the bronze serpent. They even gave it a name and called it Nehushtan.

For about 700 hundred years from the time of Moses to the time of Hezekiah, the people worshipped the bronze serpent!

2 Kings 18:3-5
And he (King Hezekiah) did
what was right in the sight of the Lord,
according to all that his father David had done.

He removed the high places
and broke the sacred pillars,
cut down the wooden image
and broke in pieces the bronze serpent
that Moses had made;
for until those days
the children of Israel burned incense to it,
and called it Nehushtan.

He trusted in the Lord God of Israel,
so that after him was none like him
among all the kings of Judah,
nor who were before him.

King Hezekiah did what was right in the Lord’s sight. He removed the high places of pagan worship, and cut down the wooden image of the Canaanite goddess Asherah. He also broke in pieces the bronze serpent that Moses had made!

Yes, God was pleased when their idol Nehushtan was finally broken into pieces!

The truth is this - God used the bronze serpent as an instrument so that they could look unto Him, and so that He would heal them. The bronze thing did not have any healing power on its own. It was the Lord who healed His people. The focus should be upon God and not on the physical item itself.

John 3:14-15
And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness,
even so must the Son of Man be lifted up,
that whoever believes in Him
should not perish but have eternal life.

Similarly, Jesus was lifted up in a cross, and died for the salvation of the world. But instead of worshipping the Christ who died for us, many people begin to worship the wooden cross!

All of the Christian symbols cannot replace the Christ of Christianity. Each of them has the potential to become an idol! We can wear a cross around the neck or have a cross as a decorative item in the house. But to burn incense and worship a cross is simply committing idolatry in the sight of God!

Do you know why the bodies of Moses, Elijah and Jesus were never found? Because the people of God would build a spiritual structure or monument to worship the bodies or any remains of the bodies if they were found!

Even today, many people worship the burial linen cloth or shroud that Jesus had left behind. Whether it is the same cloth or not, we will not discuss or debate here. But many religious Christians worship that ancient piece of cloth!

That’s why God never gave us a true physical picture or photo of the authentic and historical Jesus. Simply because if we have one in our hands, many of us would worship His photo or picture instead of Him. God forbids!

Romans 1:20-25
For since the creation of the world
His invisible attributes are clearly seen,
being understood by the things that are made,
even His eternal power and Godhead,
so that they are without excuse,
because, although they knew God,
they did not glorify Him as God,
nor were thankful,
but became futile in their thoughts,
and their foolish hearts were darkened.

Professing to be wise, they became fools,
and changed the glory of the incorruptible God
into an image made like corruptible man—
and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.

Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness,
in the lusts of their hearts,
to dishonor their bodies among themselves,
who exchanged the truth of God for the lie,
and worshiped and served the creature
rather than the Creator,
who is blessed forever. Amen.

For ever since the world was created, we human beings have seen the earth, the skies and the stars. Through everything God had made, we can clearly see His invisible qualities - His eternal power and divine nature. So we have no excuse for not knowing God.

Yes, we knew the existence of God, but we wouldn’t worship Him as God or even give Him thanks.

And we began to think up foolish ideas imagining what God was like. As a result, our minds became darkened and confused. Claiming to be wise and creative, we have flipped over and become stupid fools.

And instead of worshipping the glorious, ever-living God, we made and worshipped idols that look like mere people, birds, animals, fishes or reptiles.

Many of us are worshipping not God, but the people of God! Yes, we have idolized our favorite or "anointed" apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers!

Somehow, they become more important than God in our lives. We dress like them, talk like them, walk like them, behave like them - becoming like them! Desiring to be like them, and not to be like Jesus! And many of these church leaders or idols love to be adored and idolized!

Revelation 5:5
But one of the elders said to me,
“Do not weep.
Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah,
the Root of David,
has prevailed to open the scroll
and to loose its seven seals.”

One of the latest trends in the church is about the Lion of Judah.

Some pastors love to roar like a lion in their church services and ministries. They think that they are from the tribe of Judah!

Interestingly, their church members follow and act like their leaders. Many congregations have become almost like dens of lions. Literally, almost all of them are roaring at their own impulse and instinct.

Joel 3:16
The Lord also will roar from Zion,
And utter His voice from Jerusalem;
The heavens and earth will shake;
But the Lord will be a shelter for His people,
And the strength of the children of Israel.

Some claim that since the Bridegroom is the Lion of Judah, we the Bride of Christ are now lionesses. Assuming in the jungle, all the animals are lions and lionesses. There will be disastrous disorder and total imbalance!

If a city or nation is completely filled with lionesses and lions, therein will be no peace and no rest 24/7.

But thanks be to God, there will be no lions and lionesses in the Highway of Holiness!

Isaiah 35:8-10
A highway shall be there, and a road,
And it shall be called the Highway of Holiness.

The unclean shall not pass over it,
But it shall be for others.

Whoever walks the road, although a fool,
Shall not go astray.

No lion shall be there,
Nor shall any ravenous beast go up on it;
It shall not be found there.

But the redeemed shall walk there,
And the ransomed of the Lord shall return,
And come to Zion with singing,
With everlasting joy on their heads.

They shall obtain joy and gladness,
And sorrow and sighing shall flee away.

We worship Jesus, the Lion from the tribe of Judah. But we cannot and must not become the Lion of Judah!

1 Peter 5:8
Be sober, be vigilant;
because your adversary the devil
walks about like a roaring lion,
seeking whom he may devour.

We must not desire to roar like a lion. Let the One and Only Lion of Judah roar!

Because there is also another lion in the spiritual realm. Our adversary the devil - a roaring lion!

Thus only the True Lion of Judah can roar against our adversary! The rest of the roaring "lions" and "lionesses" may be devoured if we are not sober and vigilant. We think we are when we are not! 

The problem is not the true Lion of Judah. The problem is that many of us want to become a Lion of Judah, roaring like one and imitating our leaders or idols.

God is looking for true worshippers. They will worship Him in spirit and in truth.

God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.

John 4:23-24
But the hour is coming, and now is,
when the true worshipers will worship
the Father in spirit and truth;
for the Father is seeking such to worship Him.

God is Spirit,
and those who worship Him
must worship in spirit and truth.

Who may go up to the mountain of the Lord?

Who may stand in His holy place?

Only those whose hands and hearts are pure.

Only those who do not worship idols and never tell lies.

Psalm 24:3-4
Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord?

Or who may stand in His holy place?

He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
Who has not lifted up his soul to an idol,
Nor sworn deceitfully.

In the last verse of his first epistle, John, the beloved Apostle of Christ, lovingly concluded by exhorting us:

1 John 5:21
Little children, keep yourselves from idols.
Amen.

 

Written on 7 September 2012