Idols: Real or Imagined?

They are turned back and utterly put to shame, who trust in carved idols, who say to metal images, “You are our gods.” ESV Isaiah 42:17

I’m adding notes and prayers to a journaling Bible that I will give to my son on his 18th birthday. The process forces me to slow down and consider each verse as I read, pray and notate. One thing that has really struck me as I work through Isaiah is God’s constant admonition to stay away from idols. My first thought is that this applied more to less sophisticated cultures than ours–those that really believed in worshiping metal statues and the like. However, as I pray over each verse, and I consider the impact on my son’s life, I wonder if things like income, marriage, kids, lifestyle, technology, power, comfort, status, etc. couldn’t be huge idols in his life. They could be idols in my life.

Time and time again, God warns the Israelites to stay away from idols. He constantly points out the futility of idols: they have no power to deliver in time of trouble. In one of my favorite passages, God describes the craftsman who cuts down a tree, burns half of it in the fire to stay warm, and shapes the other half into an idol that he bows down to, worships, and expects deliverance from. He seems foolish! However, aren’t we the same in so many ways? We realize money can only do so much, yet we are convinced our comfort and happiness in life depends on the size of our paycheck. We look to our kids to make us happy and we often try to live out our dreams through our children. We assume the latest Iphone or Galaxy will satisfy our cravings. We worship promotions at work. We crave comfort, dream of luxurious vacations and leisurely retirement. Is this not idolatry?

The more I’ve pondered these concepts, the more convinced I am than ever that idolatry is alive and well in our culture. It’s not metal statues, but rather ideas and beliefs that we have idolized. We idolize these things because we believe that they will bring us happiness, forgetting that they ultimately bring us shame. What’s the state of your soul and idolatry? May we trust in the one true God and never turn to idols. They only bring shame, while God alone satisfies.


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