Living stones 4 Idols of wood and stone

Idols of wood and stone – warning from the law

When the children of Israel were led forth from Egypt, they left behind a land absolutely full of idols. Those who are said to know tell us that the Egyptians worshipped around 2,000 different gods. The Israelites saw the great judgements of the Lord which had been poured out upon these pagan deities in the form of ten awesome plagues (Exodus 12:12). Logically speaking, therefore, we might expect that they would have realised that the gods of Egypt – indeed of all Gentile nations – were nothing. Having seen all that had been done for them in the period leading up to, and during, the exodus, the Israelites would surely worship the mighty one of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob alone. In case the point had been missed, the law given through Moses at Sinai forbad the making of, and bowing down to, idols of any kind. Time and again the same point was made:

“Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth …” (20:4)

Sadly, we know that Israel broke this very simple law with astonishing regularity. They were already in the habit of worshipping Egyptian idols even before the exodus (see Ezekiel 20:8). This practice continued in the wilderness, when the molten calf was made. Other images were carried through the desert (Acts 7:43). Once they entered the land, after an initial period of faithfulness under Joshua and the next generation (Judges 2:7), God’s people descended into idolatry once more. These actions went on virtually unchecked, until they were carried away captive, Israel into Assyria and Judah into Babylon. There they would be absolutely surrounded by idolatry! And what were many of these idols made of? Wood and … stone:

“And the LORD shall scatter thee among all people, from the one end of the earth even unto the other; and there thou shalt serve other gods, which neither thou nor thy fathers have known, even wood and stone.” (Deuteronomy 28:64)

So when the Gentiles made themselves stone idols and bowed before them, these lifeless items were alive in the minds of those who worshipped them. It was as though the stone, which was meant to be a small representation of the pagan deity in question, possessed life: a “living stone”. How tragic that Israel fell into this same trap and followed their Gentile neighbours.

These things are not written so we can feel superior, patting ourselves on the back that we have never bowed down to idols made of wood and stone as the faithless Israelites did. They are “written for our learning” (Romans 15:4; 1 Corinthians 10:11). If we fail to see the dangers of the things of this world which threaten us today, then we are no different from Israel in the wilderness. Though we may not actually bow down before idols, the Apostle Paul identifies covetousness as idolatry in Colossians 3:5. Can any of us honestly say that we do not, at times, covet some of the things of this world?

The nation in the wilderness had a rock which had life-giving properties – the one from which water flowed (Exodus 17:6,7). That rock, in symbol, “was Christ” (1 Corinthians 10:4). He is our source of strength. Only in him, by God’s grace, are we alive. Only if he is our foundation can we withstand the trials and tribulations of this life. Only in him can we grow, spiritually.

What a challenge this is then for us. As Jesus is a living and life-giving stone, we are called upon to emulate his example. We must possess the strength of a stone, while manifesting the hope of life which is ours to those in the world. As “lively stones” we will show to others the attributes of our Lord and Master, the true “living stone”.

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Preceding articles

Living stones 1 A lifeless and a lively stone

Living stones 2 Attributes

Living stones 3 Jacob and a “living stone”

Memorizing wonderfully 8 The commandments

Memorizing wonderfully 10 Keeping the commandments 2

Memorizing wonderfully 12 Choose life

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Additional reading

  1. Bible sayings about God
  2. Two states of existence before God
  3. Man enticed to long for more
  4. On the Edge of Believing
  5. The Best Bedtime Stories
  6. Commemorating the escape from slavery
  7. Marriage of Jesus 8 Wife of Yahweh
  8. It takes guts to leave the ruts
  9. To Soar In The Spirit You Have To Be Hard Core
  10. Only six of ten commandments of God still important to British Christians

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Related articles

  1. Idol worship?
  2. Chopping Down Idols
  3. Idols
  4. Falling Idols
  5. Crucifying our idols
  6. Idols, Idols, Everywhere…
  7. Will Jesus forgive me?
  8. No One Lives Without Faith
  9. The Catholic mass: How a simple memorial became a pompous, elaborate ritual
  10. The Ancient Origins of Modern Holidays
  11. Polytheist vs. [Neo]Pagan
  12. Idolatry (by Katherine – How my heart speaks)
  13. Idolatry (by They were strangers)
  14. My Religion is Rooted, Literally.
  15. Thankfulness vs. Idolatry
  16. Idolatry: A Subtly Profound Idea
  17. The Idolatry of Man and the Grace of God
  18. honestly, it’s idolatry
  19. Workplace IdolatryAm I A Sinner?Preaching Idolatry
  20. Guilty of IdolatryThe Church And What It Has Become
  21. The Days Are Now
  22. Unity in ChristMy Living Stone
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6 thoughts on “Living stones 4 Idols of wood and stone

  1. Nice article, and thank you for including my post in the additional reading! It makes me glad that you found it worthy! All the best

    Like

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