by Mike Ratliff
21 Τεκνία, φυλάξατε ἑαυτὰ ἀπὸ τῶν εἰδώλων. 1 John 5:21 (NA28)
21 Little children, guard yourselves from idols. 1 John 5:21 (NASB)
Our English word idol is derived from the Greek εἴδωλον (eidōlon). Homer used eidōlon for phantoms and apparitions. In later Classical Greek, it carried the other non-religious meanings of picture, copy, or “any unsubstantial form, an image reflected in a mirror or water, an image or idea in the mind.”
In the Septuagint, however, eidōlon is used to translate some fifteen Hebrew words and always refers to the images of heathen gods and the gods themselves. God’s second commandment in the Law, for example, prohibited making any “graven image” (Exodus 20:4; cf. Deuteronomy 5:8). Among many recurrences of idolatry, Ezekiel prophesied God’s judgment upon Israel for that abomination: “Your altars shall be desolate, and your images hall be broken: and I will cast down your slain men before your idols. And I will lay the dead carcasses of the children of Israel before their idols; and I will scatter your bones round about your altars” (6:4-5).
Turning to the New Testament, we see the Septuagint usage of eidōlon carried over, as e discover many restatements of the repugnance of idols. To both the Corinthians and the Thessalonians, for example, Paul specifically contrasts how they used to worship idols but were converted from it. He praised the Thessalonians that they had “turned to God from idols to serve the living and true god” (1 Thessalonians 1:9). Likewise, in his introduction to his teaching concerning “spiritual gifts,” he reminded the Corinthians that they used to be “carried away unto these dumb idols” (1 Corinthians 12:2), and in his second letter he mentions the total contradiction that exits between “the temple of God” and “idols” (2 Corinthians 6:16).
We then read John’s crystal-clear command to God’s “little children,” that they “keep [themselves] from idols” (1 John 5:21). An idol is no only an image or representation of the Deity but it is also the making of anything an object of adoration instead of the true God. Men do this in countless ways, making gods of money, possessions, success, and even other people. It is good for us to be reminded who God really is and how easily we can make other gods that come before Him, replace Him, or even subtly undermine Him.
I try to stay out of the political circus as much as possible. However, I have been witnessing some professing Christians over the last couple of years say and do some incredible things indicating that their hearts are not set on worshipping the one true God, but on some form of idolatry. Some have made an idol of the USA and our Constitutional Republic. Some have made an idol of the candidates of their party revealing hearts bound to either conservatism or liberalism. Some have made an idol of the conscience of man itself saying everyone must be free to vote according to their conscience regardless of the issues. It goes on and on. It you dig deep enough into any of these positions however, what you will find is an idol.
Yes, I voted. How did I vote? I voted for candidates that held positions that lined up with the Christian World View or if that was not possible to determine then I voted for the candidate who was the least like those who were opposed to the Christian World View. After that I viewed everything as being in God’s hands.
My brethren, you must understand that this country is far from being a Christian nation. No, it is a very pagan nation. It is run by very corrupt people who get wealthy by doing the bidding of those who line their pockets. Our republic is now an oligarchy and those calling the shots are few and very rich. However, God is still sovereign. He can take down any country any time He is ready. What are we supposed to do? We are to remain where God puts us, obey Him, and continue to serve Him until He puts us somewhere else or takes us home.
Soli Deo Gloria!