No idle thing: Deuteronomy 4

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Today’s reading: Deuteronomy 3-4.

God knows this about us: we are idol-makers. God said it, I know it’s true, but I still struggle to understand why we are so bent on doing it. I do understand why he hates it. It’s in-your-face rejection by those who know him best.

You saw no form of any kind the day the LORD spoke to you at Horeb out of the fire. Therefore watch yourselves very carefully, so that you do not become corrupt and make for yourselves an idol, an image of any shape, whether formed like a man or a woman, or like any animal on earth or any bird that flies in the air, or like any creature that moves along the ground or any fish in the waters below. And when you look up to the sky and see the sun, the moon and the stars–all the heavenly array–do not be enticed into bowing down to them and worshiping things the LORD your God has apportioned to all the nations under heaven. Deuteronomy 4:15-19

God’s list of things people idolize include men and women, the created things of this earth, and all the heavenly bodies. These things have a form that can be modeled, but God is spirit and has no form. If we try to make a form or picture of God, we immediately begin to limit what is limitless and make physical what is supernatural. Michael Card wrote, “we’ve made you in our image so our faith’s idolatry.” He means that we can remake God into our own idea of what he is like, and end up worshiping something completely different.

Why do we do it? God made us to worship, he created us for devotion, and if we fail to worship him by nature we seek out something else to adore. But why do we abandon God and focus on created things rather than the creator?

  • We long for a God that is tangible
  • We want a master that lets us do what we want to do
  • Like the Israelites, we aren’t satisfied or content with God
  • Our faith is too weak to keep hold of the supernatural God

Between bookends of his warning against idolatry, Moses mentions again his own failure that will keep him out of the Promised Land. “God was angry with me because of you,” he tells the people. I wonder if there was anything of idolatry in Moses’ failure. He labored with love for the Israelites. Did he idolize them? Or was there something about his role as their leader that he idolized? God called Moses the most humble man on earth, but perhaps pride found a way in at Meribah where Moses struck the rock.

What do you adore instead of God? Why do you think people are so quick to worship some created thing rather than the Creator? Please leave a comment and let me know what you think.

Idolatry is when you become the source of your own joy. Poverty of spirit is a wonderful thing. Paul Washer

We always pay dearly for chasing after what is cheap. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

Whatever controls us is our lord. The person who seeks power is controlled by power. The person who seeks acceptance is controlled by acceptance. We do not control ourselves. We are controlled by the lord of our lives. Rebecca Manley Pippert

Image by julieslv on Flickr, CC by-nc 2.0

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5 thoughts on “No idle thing: Deuteronomy 4

  1. Isn’t idolatry ultimately our disbelief that the cloud enshrouding Sinai is the true God, and that the golden calf of our own construct is the item worthy of our devotion?

  2. Pingback: BIBLE DAILY DEVOTIONAL – Deut 4 – No idle thing | ChristianBlessings

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