American Idolatry – Isaiah 2

materialism“Their land has also been filled with idols; they worship the work of their hands, that which their fingers have made… The proud look of man will be abased and the loftiness of man will be humbled, and the Lord alone will be exalted in that day” (Isaiah 2:8,11, NASB).

We tend to think that idolatry is an Old Testament phenomenon. Long ago, unenlightened people made little figurines from wood or stone or they built altars in the woods or on mountaintops. To us, that’s idolatry.

We think we’re more sophisticated today, so idolatry isn’t a big problem like it was in the Old Testament. But, it’s not that idolatry isn’t as prevalent today as in the Old Testament. It’s just that our idolatry manifests itself differently. It’s more subtle…and deceptive!

Idolatry is certainly just as prevalent in the modern world as it was in the Old Testament, if not more so, and certainly just as egregious, if not more so! Because of its subtlety,  we deny our idolatry. But Isaiah’s definition of idolatry holds true for today just as it did in ancient Israel.

Isaiah describes idolatry succinctly, yet poignantly–“they worship the work of their hands.” Idolatry is worshiping what has been created rather than worshiping the Creator. It’s worshiping what we have made or achieved (or want to achieve)–success, prosperity, fame, power. Materialism, the desire for everything we can get, is our American idolatry!

And, just as with the ancient Israelites, our idolatry leads to human pride. And pride places the focus of our existence on exalting ourselves because of what we do or accomplish rather than on the exaltation of God.

But, we can’t help ourselves. Human beings are designed for worship, designed to worship their Creator. That’s just the way God made us.

Now, worship in this sense doesn’t necessarily mean attending a church service or a prayer meeting. Sure, worship may occur at these events, but it’s something that runs much deeper than that. It’s an allegiance and the way of life that is the result of that allegiance. It’s what what you commit your life to. It’s how your spend your time and  money. It’s your priorities!

Although we are wired for worship, we are also inherently idolatrous because we seem to worship just about everything but God. And when we do, that’s rebellion against God because we are giving our allegiance to something other than God.

So, idolatry is treason! And treason is a capital crime, a capital crime against the Creator of the universe, God Almighty! So, its punishment is of eternal proportions. That’s why idolatry is addressed it in the first two of the Ten Commandments: You shall have no other gods before me and you shall not worship anything other than God Almighty.

Isaiah said we must be humbled to turn us away from our idolatry. When you are humbled, that means you submit yourself to something greater. Like bowing down before a king. And it means the same as pledging your allegiance or swearing your loyalty. So, humility is the exact opposite of rebellion.

And, God honors humility. And God can humble us as Isaiah predicts He will on the Day of the Lord or we can humble ourselves before that day and plead for God’s mercy.

We can humble ourselves and make a plea for God’s mercy by  pledging our allegiance and loyalty to God through faith in the substitutionary work of Christ, who by His earthly life, death, and resurrection reconciled us with God.

Don’t let following after the American dream become your American idolatry. Humble yourself before God and give Him your allegiance and let Jesus and His Spirit dwelling within you be the source, the enabling power, for all that you do and achieve in your life!

Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He will do it. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light and your judgment as the noonday. (Psalm 35:5-6, NASB)

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