A Working Theology of Idolatry. . . Epiphany- Day 52

Psa. 135:5-18

I know the greatness of the LORD
that our Lord is greater than any other god.
The LORD does whatever pleases him
throughout all heaven and earth,
and on the seas and in their depths.
He causes the clouds to rise over the whole earth.
He sends the lightning with the rain
and releases the wind from his storehouses.

 He destroyed the firstborn in each Egyptian home,
both people and animals.
He performed miraculous signs and wonders in Egypt
against Pharaoh and all his people.
He struck down great nations
and slaughtered mighty kings—
Sihon king of the Amorites,
Og king of Bashan,
and all the kings of Canaan.
He gave their land as an inheritance,
a special possession to his people Israel.

 Your name, O LORD, endures forever;
Your fame, O LORD, is known to every generation.
For the LORD will give justice to his people
and have compassion on his servants.

The idols of the nations are merely things of silver and gold,
shaped by human hands.
They have mouths but cannot speak,
and eyes but cannot see.
They have ears but cannot hear,
and noses but cannot smell.
And those who make idols are just like them,
as are all who trust in them.


Do you have a working theology of idolatry? It is so easy to leave idolatry in ancient history or at least not to translate it over to the present day in any specific way. We don’t bow down to little hand crafted statutes made of silver and gold, but we must ask what was behind this act of worship in the mind of the worshipper. They were essentially buying stock in the idol; placing their hope in what the god, represented by this idol, could do for them in exchange for their offering. They were turning to the idol to deliver some form of prosperity or health or happiness to them. And they would often turn to more than one of them. To be clear, the God of Israel would be one in the mix. Idolatry isn’t so much putting our hope in something or someone other than God but in putting our hope in something addition to God. It’s a hedging of the bet, a backup position, a safety net.

Though forms change, the human heart remains the same. We are them and they are us. What are we buying stock in these days?  What am i placing my hope in to deliver some form of prosperity or health or happiness? Am I trusting in my wealth (or fearing for the lack thereof)? Am I buying stock in a retirement fund (which isn’t a bad thing if our hope isn’t anchored there)? Idolatry is dangerously subtle and cunningly deceptive; so much so that it’s greatest weapon is the inability of the person caught up in it to be aware of it.

That’s what the Psalmist is saying here– you become what you behold. The idol is blind, deaf and has a heart of stone. So are those who hope in it.

It brings us back to the prayer for “eyes to see” and “ears to hear.” This is one of the lynch pin realities of all of life.

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