Subtle Idolatry

Pat McFall


“Their land is full of idols; the people worship things they have made with their own hands.” --Isaiah 2:8


Isaiah brings a powerful prophetic message of both judgement and restoration. In one section he will speak words of clear judgement on the people’s sin and in another he reveals the heart of God for his people in the way that he paints a completely different picture of cleansing them of sin and drawing them near to Him. Isaiah’s language of comparison draws such a compelling picture both of how God sees His people and of how far they have fallen from becoming that picture. Once Judah was known as a home of justice but now it is filled with murderers. God saw Judah like pure silver but now they are worthless slag because of their arrogant rebellion towards God. Idolatry comes up a few times in these first 3 chapters almost as a reflection of the lack of worship in their hearts that manifests in their open indulgence of other gods in idolatry.


I imagine a land covered with temples and idols. Idols on street corners and on the mantles in the homes of God’s people. I also see the decaying remains of idols crafted but now left to the elements of nature are rotting away. It seems so different from what I experience everyday. I don’t see idols in that sense. I can’t relate to going to a place of worship to bow before a graven image. Sure I’ve see different Buddhist temples here in Hawaii and the heaps of rocks that make alters in parts of the island but not on the scale that we see this in Judah. But when I read the phrase ‘things they made with their own hands,” it reminded me that idols are not a material issue but a spiritual one. Whatever idol that was created by wood or stone in the natural world had already taken up residence in the heart of the one who created it. It already existed on the throne of their heart before it materialized into a graven image. I have to ask myself, “What things do I take pride in that I have created with my own hands?” What goals have I accomplished that were conceived in my heart and birthed through my hands that have taken up residence in my heart so much that I start to think, “I did this!’ and not “God did this.” It’s so subtle the worship of my own accomplishments, the confidence and safety that I rest in because I feel like “I have built something, I have created a financial safety net by saving and getting out of debt,” or “I have an education and skills” as if either of those things were not given to me by God. The same way that God created the earth and His people created an idol out of it and worshiped it instead of God is the same way that God has given me gifts and talents and, after creating something out of those abilities and resources I then try and credit myself alone for their accomplishment. Other questions come to mind like, “What do I spend money on?” “What do I spend my time on?” “What do I spend my time, thoughts and energy on?” Answers to these questions will help me see if there are idols in my life that are take residence in my heart and becoming an obstacle to my intimacy with God.


Jesus, you alone are God. You alone are above every name and created thing. You were there, the one who brought all things into being. You were at the creation point of the entire universe. Lord, I never want to allow a lesser thing take the place of you. I never want to settle for the worship of things less worthy than my worship of You. You alone deserve all glory, power and honor. Crush every idol in my heart that tries to compete for my affections.

Devotions for July 01

Isaiah 1,2,3
Titus 3

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