The commandments we have been given in regard to idolatry is:
"You shall not make for yourself a carved image - any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, Yahweh your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generation of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments." Exodus 20:4-6
The command is to not bow down nor serve them. Two different aspects of idolatry.
After the fall of Adam, mankind was provided with a way back to relationship with Almighty God through a sacrificial atonement.
Many ancient writings reveal that the people clearly understood the principles of the Ten Commandments and were very conscious of their rebellious condition and knew the way that had been provided for their forgiveness would be in a Messiah figure who would come and make atonement for them.
To be partakers of this promise they would offer a sacrificial animal as a token of their faith in the promised Redeemer. The sacrificial animal was a symbol of the atonement to be made for them and it was understood that the wrath of God which was due them would fall on the sacrificial victim and thus spare the guilty worshiper. By their participation in the flesh of the sacrificial meal which represented His Word, they received, by faith, the benefits of the promised atonement.
In the earliest Egyptian texts there are prophecies of the promised Messiah whose life was to end as a sacrifice to bring about the regeneration of mankind. It was only later that this deteriorated into sun worship and veneration of the many other deities associated in the cycle of their livelihood.
The prophesied Messiah, in the earliest times, was associated with the bringing of spiritual light which in time was transferred to the physical light manifested through the light-bringer - the physical sun.
From the desire for physical images, it was a simple matter to begin worshiping the sun. At dawn services, all throughout the world, the people began looking toward the east, awaiting the great moment when the first brilliant rays of the sun would shine above the horizon. They began to offer sacrifices to the sun and the other heavenly bodies and these came to be regarded as gods.
It was Nimrod who began this as a defined and overt rebellion against God after the flood, defining himself as a mighty one to be worshiped, and from there it spread throughout the world with the dispersion of the people after the judgment upon Babel and deteriorated into the worship of the creation itself.
Along with the worship of the sun the symbol of the snake was promoted as the one who had 'enlightened' mankind - i.e. the giver of 'light'. Through the perversion of the sacrificial offering, all forms of licentious revelry became associated with idol worship involving immorality, sexual perversions, witchcraft, astrology and a sadistic love of cruelty.
Going back to it's source at Babel, the Bible identifies all counterfeit worship as Babylon and instruct His people to come out of it.
Revelation 18:4, "Come out of her, my people, so that you will not share in her sins, so that you will not receive any of her plagues."
Idolatry is the natural consequences of covenant unfaithfulness and a withdrawal from close relationship with Yahweh God. In withdrawing from fellowship with Him we fill the vacuum with other things. To remain in fellowship with God requires constant diligence to remove the things which would separate us from Him so that we walk in the light as He is in the Light.
- At Sinai the children of Israel withdrew from personal exposure to Almighty God and in the next instance they were practicing idolatry (Exodus 32). They used the symbol of the Apis bull with which they were familiar in Egypt to represent Yahweh God. They had asked Moses to stand in their place before Yahweh and in his absence they wanted something tangible to represent the invisible God.
Through this, they broke the covenant that they had made and lost their inheritance as a kingdom of priests. This covenant was not renewed until Messiah came to fulfill the promise.
- If is had not been for Moses' intercession they would have been blotted out of the Book of Life (Ex.32:30-34). A temporary substitute was made for them in the form of the Levitical priesthood.
Notice the injunction that was given to them afterward that they were to break down the altars of the people in Canaan and warned against participating in their worship or getting otherwise involved in their idolatry (Exodus 34:10-28).
The Israelites were also warned not to adopt pagan religious practices in their worship of Him as He viewed that as an abomination. "You shall not worship Yahweh your God in that way" (Deuteronomy 12:29–32; 17:9–13).
Repetitively during their history they began mimicking the ways in which the nations around them worshiped their gods which led them to eventually worship those same gods. He sent prophets to them again and a gain to warn them about their idolatry.
- Elijah contended with the nation when they had gone fully into Baal worship. He challenged them on Mt. Carmel, one man against the multitude who felt safe in the number of followers doing the same thing. "And Elijah came to all the people and said, 'How long will you falter between two opinions? If Yahweh is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him" (1 Kings 18:21)
God showed that day what a abomination the false religion of sun worship was to him.
- Jeremiah said to them, "Do not learn the way of the nations. Do not be dismayed at the signs of heaven, for the nations are dismayed at them. For the customs of the people are futile; for one cuts a tree from the forest , they decorate it with silver and gold; (like /Christmas trees)
They fasten it with nails and hammer it so that it will not topple." (Jeremiah 10:2-4)
- Hosea describes how the House of Jehu (the northern 10 tribes) were destroyed for establishing a form of worship contrary to the pattern which Yahweh God had set out that led to them following the ways of Baal (sun worship) and Ishtar/Ashtaroth (Easter). This sin was the Sin of Jeroboam for which Yahweh brought Assyria against the ten northern tribes, which led to their dispersion in 722 BCE.
- Ezekiel rebuked the people for practicing forms of sun-worship (Ezekiel 8:5-18), for which reason the Shekinah eventually glory departed from the temple (Ez.10).
- In v.14 we have the women "weeping for Tammuz". This was the observance of a mourning period for the death of Tammuz, the god of vegetation (Semitic equivalent of the Greek Adonis) who was the consort of Ishtar the goddess of fertility. It is practiced today in the 40 days of Lent before /Easter which is the celebration of the fertility goddess Ishtar (eggs and bunnies)
- In v.16 the priests are "worshiping the sun" - Baal worship was the worship of the sun, called Mithra in Persia. Constantine brought Mithraism into the church by establishing /Sunday (Sun-day) as the day of worship.
Through Hellenistic influence and the decrees of Constantine, the Church has been infiltrated with pagan practices that originate in idolatry. These unholy days have been substituted for the holy days which have been decreed by Almighty God as appointment times with Him.
These forms of worship are contrary to that which is ordained in scripture and are an abomination to Yahweh God as He has clearly shown. They originate in Babylon, the Great Harlot. We must make sure that we have nothing to do with anything that is associated with the counterfeit system of worship. Not only are we robbed of covenant blessings by so doing, but we will become a partaker of His judgment of the Great Harlot if we are part of her by identifying with her practices.
We are told to come out of her and to be separate and not to have any part in the unfruitful works of darkness - 2 Corinthians 6:14 - 7:1; Revelation 18:4.
We are to keep ourselves from all forms of idolatry. Only a very simple idolater would have supposed that the idol he bowed before was actually the god he was worshiping. Instead the idol was a physical representation of the spiritual power of that god. The pagan deity’s power and essence were thought to be captured within the idolatrous image. The idea was that possessing the representation of a god(dess) would bring him or her to the aid of the worshiper. We are brought under the power of whatever we serve.
Idolatry has many faces. In our society it is often subtle rather than a literal bowing down before a physical form of something.
Idolatry may be summed up as worshiping what is made with human hands and ascribing to these objects the glory or importance that belongs to the Creator. All of us may have worshiped a new car, boat, house, or possibly deified some sports, fashion, political or preacher personality.
Anything that becomes the focus of our time, affections, and money for the pleasure and satisfaction it gives us, has a place in our hearts that is becoming an idol.
Idolatry is the delight of the evil one, and his most effective tool and is used to effectively divert our eyes from the Creator to His creation - the physical, material world.
"Little children, keep yourselves from idols." 1 John 5:21
For more information on Easter, Christmas, Sunday worship and other pagan observances, click on these links:
- Easter Observance
- Easter Traditions
- Christmas Celebration
- Christmas trees
- Birth Christ
- Satan's Birthday
- Sunday Worship