Idolatry and an Inability to Hear God

(SeanO) #1

@clou recently brought up the issue of why parables seemed so confusing to many people. I have linked that thread at the bottom. However, I was reading the Psalms and hit a passage that was quite shocking about idolatry that provides a bit of a different angle on the issue.

The basic flow of the observation of the Psalmist is quite powerful:

  1. Idols are deaf and blind
  2. Those who worship idols will be like them

In essence, idolatry makes us deaf and blind to God. What are your thoughts on this connection? I found this to be a profoundly powerful idea that resonates throughout the prophetic books of Scripture.

Psalms 135:15-18 - The idols of the nations are silver and gold,
made by human hands.
16 They have mouths, but cannot speak,
eyes, but cannot see.
17 They have ears, but cannot hear,
nor is there breath in their mouths.
18 Those who make them will be like them, and so will all who trust in them.

Isaiah 6:9-10 - He said, “Go and tell this people:

“‘Be ever hearing, but never understanding;
be ever seeing, but never perceiving.’
10 Make the heart of this people calloused;
make their ears dull
and close their eyes.
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
hear with their ears,
understand with their hearts,
and turn and be healed.”

Mark 13:10-16 - And the disciples came and said to Him, “Why do You speak to them in parables?”

11 He answered and said to them, “Because it has been given to you to know themysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. 12 For whoever has, to him more will be given, and he will have abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him.13 Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. 14 And in them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, which says:

‘Hearing you will hear and shall not understand,
And seeing you will see and not perceive;
15 For the hearts of this people have grown dull.
Their ears are hard of hearing,
And their eyes they have closed,
Lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears,
Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn,
So that I should heal them.’

16 But blessed are your eyes for they see, and your ears for they hear;

(Lakshmi Mehta) #2

@SeanO, Great to read your post… you bring up a very important point for discussion, especially considering the different ways we can be engaged in idolatry even in modern times.

My own christian journey as you may recollect began through Is 44 18 They know not, nor do they discern, for he has shut their eyes, so that they cannot see, and their hearts, so that they cannot understand. 19 No one considers, nor is there knowledge or discernment to say, “Half of it I burned in the fire; I also baked bread on its coals; I roasted meat and have eaten. And shall I make the rest of it an abomination? Shall I fall down before a block of wood?” 20 He feeds on ashes; a deluded heart has led him astray, and he cannot deliver himself or say, “Is there not a lie in my right hand?

As I read this verse, I responded through the conviction of the Holy Spirit , that I did not want to be “the deluded one” any longer and I accepted Jesus as Lord.

So, the one who takes away the delusion is the Holy Spirit of God. God gives opportunities for repentance. It is God’s desire always that we are not deluded (even in the garden of eden). God therefore gives us commandments to worship Him alone and not worship the creation as the pagans did through idolatry. God of the Bible sets Himself apart as a Creator distinct from creation. In John 4:23-24, Jesus speaks to the Samaritan woman and says true worshippers worship in Spirit and Truth.

In contrast, the pagans worshipped all kinds of creatures and idols. They believed god is a force that inhabits creation…a pantheistic view of God. We also read in many places that these pagan gods are demons ( Deu 32:17, 1Cor 10:20).

Habbakuk 2:19 Woe to him who says to wood, ‘Awake!’
To silent stone, ‘Arise! It shall teach!’
Behold, it is overlaid with gold and silver,
Yet in it there is no breath at all.

Rom 1:22-25 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things. Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.

So, the Israelites who failed to worship God who rescued them and followed after other gods through idolatrous practices, came under the authority of the pagan gods/ demons. The choice to not seek God’s ways in unbelief caused some to be blinded by the deception of the enemy.

Romans 6:16 Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness?

Rev 13:14 And he deceives those who dwell on the earth by those signs which he was granted to do in the sight of the beast, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast who was wounded by the sword and lived.

Rev 12:9 So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.

Our choices have more than visible consequences, they shape our hearts. Disobedience to God leads to hardening of heart and obedience leads to increased discernment of the Holy Spirit.

Heb 3:13 But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.
Heb 3 describes the hardening of the Israelites due to idolatry. Many other Psalms also describe the same.

Heb 5:14 But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.

God exalts those who humble themselves before Him. I remember one sermon where Ravi Zacharias said something to the effect of, “We dont ask God to appeal to us but God can ask us to appeal to Him”. My prayer is that we Christians are not blinded by idols in our life. This raises some questions for me, “What is the place of creative methods as a means to worship?” As for me, I see Jesus as the only “means” to go to God and creative expressions as the “end” of worship.

Any thoughts?

(SeanO) #3

@Lakshmismehta Such a powerful testimony from Isaiah 44 - praise the Lord!

Regarding creative methods as a means to worship, I think we have to remember that we are both spiritual and physical creatures. I agree with you that Jesus is the only way to God (John 14:6), but I think that each us, as physically embodied creatures, can benefit from different creative methods of worship. Some people prefer quietness and solitude in a theological study, others rowdy worship bands, some going out into nature and simply being still in the presence of the Creator - and we all may benefit from these different forms of worship at different points of our lives.

Those are my thoughts. I’m sure others have some great thoughts as well.

(Lakshmi Mehta) #4

@SeanO, thank you and I agree with your thoughts. I too am flexible with how I worship- kneeling/ standing, singing, outdoors, indoors, journaling etc. While certain forms may make us feel more comfortable on some days rather than others, I think we need to be careful about the emphasis we place on methods. Ultimately its not the methods but our repentance in Christ that brings us close to God. I think certain limits on the extent of our need to be creative and origins of a method are important considerations.

(SeanO) #5

@Lakshmismehta I agree that the method cannot be mistaken for the Master. The method should never be an end in and of itself, but rather simply a means of communing with our Creator. What do you mean by ‘limits on the extent of our need to be creative’?

(Lakshmi Mehta) #6

@SeanO, Glad to clarify…my concern is that too much creativity in worship can sometimes distract us from focusing on God. After attending some church services, I have questioned if people would worship God if entertainment was taken away. Would we end up attending worship services because of the feelings created by the production than our understanding of the gospel? Can our creativity become our idol? This may even happen in private worship. We may have a good time of prayer after using a particular method and the next time we may seek the same experience rather than God by reproducing the method. So, I believe we need to be watchful of our tendencies for idolatry.

(SeanO) #7

@Lakshmismehta I have seen both believers and unbelievers base their image of God upon their experience or lack thereof without any Scriptural or factual support to validate that experience. And I can see how the feelings induced by a worship method could become equated with God’s presence. It seems to me that having a firm knowledge of the Scriptures is the best way to combat that tendency of the human heart. That way we have something to test our experiences against.

(Tabitha Gallman) #8

Lakshmi I have often thought about this in my own church because honestly I can sometimes get distracted by this type of worship. Don’t get me wrong, I love music and love the fact that people feel free to worship as they please, but I think we can get even too caught up in this type of worship. Coming from a Charismatic background I remember as a young adult looking at my church and thinking it’s all based on emotion and the tears and excitement would start whenever the music started.

Music does move people, and especially me, but my husband is the opposite. We are told to stand by the worship leader and I rarely raise my hands because I honestly don’t want to make my husband feel uneasy. I can tell he feels uncomfortable with it all, and I understand because I know him. He is a believer, but that is not his worship style.

I hope I am not misunderstood by any of my fellow church members if they should read this because I have the utmost respect for the leaders in my church. I am just speaking from my point of view. I love the church I attend and see the hand of God in it :slight_smile:.

(Lakshmi Mehta) #9

@tabby68, thanks for sharing your experience.

(C Rhodes) #10

Your post reminded me of something I read earlier this year. That worship is not something regulated to church gatherings. Worship is what we do throughout our day.
It is worship that governs how I treat others, how I treat myself. How I preserve the Lordship of GOD’s spirit within me.

We short-change the experience when we only engage in worship when we assemble together. As it has been said, praise and worship are more than a good concert attendance. When we worship at all times we move from the emotion of outward manifestations to an internal meditation upon GOD and GOD’s word. If some believe you can not be human and holy at the same time, we already know that formal church worship prioritizes the order of being human. Church building restrooms come quickly to mind. :blush:

That makes me wonder how angry with our husband, wife, family, friends, or strangers would we remain if we maintained a spirit of worship? Perhaps true worship deserves a rethink. Something much more than good music and ecstatic emotions in a formal gathering.

(Lakshmi Mehta) #11

Thanks for sharing this beautiful definition of worship.

(Joshua Mathew) #12

this verse is true specially for a minister who is working in india
it actually provides the real reason due to which a country like India where the gospel is preached from past 2000 years …is still in darkness…even though…there was no great opposition against gospel/Christianity
The reason for this lack of revival in a great scale…is that …not only hindus…majority of Buddhists ,jains,sikhs ,muslims and even some christians(protestants of northern india) are idol worshipers
and as the bible says these idol worshipers are so blind that majority of those people who are convinced about the truth of the bible are reluctant to come to god even after seeing powerful miracles are are happy in serving their 3.3 billion gods which includes even animals like rats and cows and even many living human beings(baba and guru)
One thing i have realised is that …only the power of god/holyspirit can remove this deafness/blindness and can convince these people to leave their blind faiths and idol worships and to worship the true God in spirit and truth