King Hezekiah was an unusual king in the sense that the scriptures say, “He did what was right in the Lord’s sight.” He was considered to be righteous because he took an active stand against the idols that Israel had incorporated in their worship of the One True God and “removed all the high places, shattered the sacred pillars and cut down the Asherah poles. He broke into pieces the bronze snake that Moses made, for the Israelite’s burned incense to it that time. (2 Kings 18:3-4).
What I find so interesting about this is that so often things that were once used to bring deliverance, healing and revival can become idols in our lives. Take the bronze snake for example. This snake was used by Moses in Numbers 21:4-8 to save Israel from certain death.
Years later the same item became an idol.
In all honesty, human beings can make idols out of just about any thing that seems important to us. Sometimes it does not necessarily needs to made of wood or stone, gold or silvers, it can be somethings – work, riches, relationships, children, cars, theological ideas: you name it, it can become an idol especially if they were tools God used to bring about transformation.
We are not so different today. We are still struggling to not make idols out of:
We are famous for making a place into an idol. We often think that because the Lord did a great work where His people once gathered that to move from there would be a mistake. Thus, when the leader suggests a “move” there is often resistance. It is easy to forget that we are the church, the house of the Lord, and not a building made of brick and stone. God lives in the hearts of His people and wherever they are He is also. Jesus challenged this idea of a holy place or sacred space when He spoke with the Samaritan woman in John 4. She alludes to the idea that Jews worshiped in a sacred space, the temple, but they considered the mountain to be a sacred place for worship. Jesus corrects her by saying that the time is coming and now has come where true worshipers would worship in Spirit and in truth.
Throughout history there have been great moves of God – revivals for want of a better word – but these to can to become idols. When we long for the days of old, live in the past and long for the past more than the present presence of God is a sure sign that the past has become our idol. When John the Baptist saw the Pharisees coming to watch him baptize, he told them that they were in grave danger because they were relying on their past, their ancestry to give them salvation and because of this they were not able to recognize what his arrival meant – he was the herald to Messiah. If the former days were great they were only great because God was in it. The past holds us back and to live in the Spirit means to live in the now because where the Spirit of the Lord IS (not WAS or WILL BE) there is freedom. (2 Corinthians 3:17).
Programs are good. They create structure and order, but when they are elevated over the will of God then an idol is created. If God moved in a certain way before it does not mean He will move again in precisely the same way now. We forget that we operate under His will and His guidance. We can make the plans and the programs all we want but God will have the final say as to how events unfold (Proverbs 16:9; Psalm 37:23; James 4:13-16).
Practices can also become idols. It’s having the mindset of, “This is how my father did it and how his father before him did it” and so on. No one really knows how the practice began or why it is done the way it is done. This can often make us resistant to hearing from God when He speaks. Practices have the ability to render the word and therefore the work of God ineffective. They have the potential to make our hearts hard and our minds dull. We literally just go through the motions and never really knowing why or asking why. Jesus expressed it this way, “ For you ignore God’s law and substitute your own tradition.” Then he said, “You skillfully sidestep God’s law in order to hold on to your own tradition.” (Mark 7: 8-9).
They can become idols as well. People can give them undue credit or worse the pastor can expect the praise for the work of the Lord. When you find people saying, “Pastor said this” and “Pastor said that” more than what Gods Word has to say about something, you can bet that they’re forming an idol. These types of people Jesus warned us about because they are in league with the hypocrites, Pharisees and Sadducee’s (Matthew 23: 5-8). By all means, we can thank our spiritual leaders for they handle their duties well and work hard at teaching the word of God (1 Timothy 5:17), but when we place them and what they say above the Lord and His command to and for us then we make them into idols.
As Christians should seek the things of God; we should place their desires and affections on things outside this world. All this because their lives are secure in Christ. We should live for Him and not for ourselves. This is not to earn salvation but to show a gratitude and love for the salvation His has given to us.
Sean Cameron Gunn.