What Does the Bible Say About Idolatry?
According to Baker's Biblical Dictionary, the most prevalent form of idolatry in biblical times was the worship of images or idols that represented or were thought to embody various pagan deities.
In the Old Testament, from the beginning, the threat of idolatry was in the midst of Israel. The forefathers were idolaters and, while Abraham was called out of a polytheistic background ( Joshua24:2 ), some persons brought their gods with them ( Gen 35:2-4). Israel's sojourn in Egypt placed them under the influence of the Egyptian religion, but God's sovereignty was manifest by his judgment upon the gods of Egypt ( Exod 12:12 ; Num 33:4 ). Israel, however, quickly succumbed to idolatry by worshiping a golden calf at Mount Sinai ( Exod 32 ).
The first commandment is to have no gods before God ( Exod 20:3 ; Deut 5:7 ). In addition, the construction of any images ( Exod 20:23 ) or even the mention of the names of gods ( Exod 23:13 ) was forbidden. Invoking the name of a god was an acknowledgment of its existence and gave credence to its power. By swearing in the name of another god ( 1 Kings 19:2 ; 20:10 ), the people would be binding themselves to an allegiance other than God ( Joshua 23:7 ).
Since idolatry substituted another for God it violated the people's holiness and was parallel to adultery; hence the frequent use of negative sexual imagery for idolatry, especially by the prophets. Both intermarriage and formal treaties were prohibited because of necessary affiliation with pagan gods ( Exod 23:32-33 ), leading to eventual fellowship ( Exod 34:15 ) and worship of idols ( Num 25:2-3 ).
Bible Verses about Idolatry
“You shall have no other gods before me."
“You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth."
The idols of the nations are silver and gold, the work of human hands. They have mouths, but do not speak; they have eyes, but do not see; they have ears, but do not hear, nor is there any breath in their mouths.
“What profit is an idol when its maker has shaped it, a metal image, a teacher of lies? For its maker trusts in his own creation when he makes speechless idols!
And have cast their gods into the fire. For they were no gods, but the work of men's hands, wood and stone. Therefore they were destroyed.
“You shall not make idols for yourselves or erect an image or pillar, and you shall not set up a figured stone in your land to bow down to it, for I am the Lord your God.
Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
Those who pay regard to vain idols forsake their hope of steadfast love.
Now let's look at 10 specific things that can quickly sneak into our lives and become idols.
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