Friday, November 30, 2012

Mathetes 2 - Idol Folly

Those who desire a knowledge of God and of the Christian faith must first put behind them their preconceived notions of what is divine and what is common, for Christianity is not like other religions and our God not like the world's gods.
"Come, then, after you have freed yourself from all prejudices possessing your mind, and laid aside what you have been accustomed to, as something apt to deceive you, and being made, as if from the beginning, a new man, inasmuch as, according to your own confession, you are to be the hearer of a new [system of] doctrine; come and contemplate, not with your eyes only, but with your  understanding, the substance and the form of those whom ye declare and deem to be gods." (Mathetes 2)
In America and much of the west, the idea of worshiping idols may see a bit strange, however, around the world gods made of wood, stone, silver, gold, and even animate objects are still enshrined and worshiped and, while we may not bow down to an idol, even in America we still serve those who are not gods at all. Paul wrote of, "immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry." (Colossians 3:5) Often our passions, desires, and greed are the very targets of our idolatry. Anything that is worshiped, feared, or severed in place of the one true God is an idol and the worshiper an idolater.

Mathetes recounts the nature of such idols,
"Is not one of them a stone similar to that on which we tread? Is not a second brass, in no way superior to those vessels which are constructed for our ordinary use? Is not a third wood, and that already rotten? Is not a fourth silver, which needs a man to watch it, lest it be stolen? Is not a fifth iron, consumed by rust? Is not a sixth earthenware, in no degree more valuable than that which is formed for the humblest purposes? Are not all these of corruptible matter?" (Mathetes 2)
Mathetes reminds us that such gods are composed of "corruptible matter." God, the true God, the creator of all things, cannot be made of "corruptible matter" for how can He be made of that which He Himself created. If God created wood, stone, silver, etc. how then could He be made of wood, stone, silver, etc.? How can we believe that anything made of created matter could actually be a god? God is completely separate from His creation; He existed before His creation began and He will exist long after it has ended. In looking for God we must look beyond this creation. We must look for the divine lying "beyond" the creation and not from within the creation. This is why God forbade His people to make any graven image of Him because they, "did not see any form on the day the Lord spoke to you at Horeb from the midst of the fire." (Deuteronomy 4:15) God is the creator not the created and He is no to be presumed to be or worshiped in the form of any created thing. All such worship is idolatry.

Not only are idols made of "contemptable matter" but they are also changable,
"Was not every one of them, before they were formed by the arts of these [workmen] into the shape of these [gods], each in its own way subject to change? Would not those things which are now vessels, formed of the same materials, become like to such, if they met with the same artificers? Might not these, which are now worshipped by you, again be made by men vessels similar to others?" (Mathetes 2)
Idols are made, God is. Idols can change, God is unchanging. If a silver vessel can be made into an idol, and the same idol remade back into a silver vessel, then can we really consider that idol to be a god? When we worship changeable things we become like those who Isaiah addressed, "I have burned half of it in the fire and also have baked bread over its coals. I roast meat and eat it. Then I make the rest of it into an abomination, I fall down before a block of wood!" (Isaiah 44:19) All things of this creation can charge and are changed, but God never changes.

Finally, Mathetes observes that, not only are idols changeable, but they are also senseless.
"Are they not all deaf? Are they not blind? Are they not without life? Are they not destitute of feeling? Are they not incapable of motion? Are they not all liable to rot? Are they not all corruptible? These things ye call gods; these ye serve; these ye worship; and ye become altogether like to them." (Mathetes 2)
How can a god that cannot see, hear, move, or act really be God? If god is the supreme creator of the universe, how is it that he cannot see, hear, or talk? How is it that he is senseless within his own universe? These "gods" are like the idols that Habakkuk prophesied about "Woe to him who says to a piece of wood, 'Awake!' To a mute stone, 'Arise!' And that is your teacher? Behold, it is overlaid with gold and silver, and there is no breath at all inside it." (Habakkuk 2:19) When we worship such idols we become wholly like them; senseless!

All such idols are vain and their worship folly. If we truly desire to understand Christianity, then we must first reform our minds an realize that such idols are not gods and that there is only one true God, the creator of heaven and earth. It is this God that the Christians worship. He alone is God.

David Robison

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