Flee from Idolatry

You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments. (Exodus 20:4-6)

It says here not to make an idol for yourself, didn’t it? People make idols for themselves. When we worship God, it is not for ourselves but for God. However, since God cannot be seen, people have a particular object that they can see and worship. Hence they make themselves something which they worship. And this applies even to the people that worshipped God. Before even telling them, “Do not worship any other gods”. the fact that they make idols is something that really angers God, even if they claim with their lips that they are worshipping Jehovah. It is something that God detests. It is an act of hatred towards God.

Therefore when the people of Israel made an idol – a golden calf – in the wilderness and worshipped it, they didn’t say that they were worshipping a different God. They said they were worshipping the god that had led them out of Egypt. They believed and said they were worshipping Jehovah’s name, but God didn’t accept that. Why? God is not someone that people can just make an image of as they please.

God has an image. And He is Jesus. He is the exact representation and the image of God. For God to reveal His image, He made preparations over a long period of time. For that day of His Son Jesus to come, God made the universe and sent those many prophets to prophesy about Him. Yet man flippantly made an image of an animal, claiming that the image is Him! They were making Jesus equivalent to an animal, which is absolutely outrageous. And God referred to such as those who hate Him. Thus whoever hates God in this way, the curse will come upon their children to the third and fourth generations. It is not just an act of sin before God. It is to hate and contend against God like an enemy. Hence this is most terrible.

Coming to the New Testament times, these words are not being spoken to the people that worship other gods already, but rather those that claim to worship God. Even in the present time, people are doing the same thing. We probably think that we don’t worship idols don’t we? Why would a believer of Jesus worship idols? However, it is said that covetousness is idolatry in Colossian 3:5. It says, “Covetousness which is idolatry”. Although we believe in Jesus and say that we worship only God, we still have covetousness (greed). In other words, our hearts are not set on storing up rewards and treasures in heaven; rather, it is set on the earth and becoming rich on earth. That is idolatry. Even that is an act of hatred toward God.

Our faith life right now is about storing our treasures up in heaven. The reason we work hard and dedicate is because we want to store our treasures up in heaven. Jesus said that if anyone gives a cup of water because one is his disciple, that person will certainly not lose his reward. Furthermore, Jesus says, “Truly, truly I tell you”.  So such a person will not lose his reward, even if it is just a cup of water. So, how precise is God with His calculations? Everything, every work that we do in Jesus while we are on earth, is for the glory and reward we will receive up in heaven. It is not for nothing. Every single day we are doing the Lord’s work, and on earth, we cannot be repaid properly. If we were being rewarded properly on earth, it would just be our job, an occupation – a means to make living. However, we don’t get rewarded properly on earth. But we will be rewarded in full when we go to heaven.

The Lord said that we sow with the perishable and reap the imperishable; we sow what is so little but reap something great. It definitely pays off! We reap much by sowing little. If we understand this mystery, then everything we do on the earth, the dedications we give in Jesus’ name, will not be with a grudging heart or difficulty. Instead, we will see the great treasures that are being stored up in heaven.

And the Lord says that we can also use what is in heaven. Just as we pray, “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven”, as our treasures and rewards are being stored up in heaven, through prayer, we can also draw them to the earth to use. In one sense, even though they are being stored up in heaven and we will get to enjoy them when we get to heaven, but also, we must be able to enjoy them while we are on earth. But for that, we have to pray. It says we can’t receive if we don’t pray. We pray not out of our greed but for us to be able to do the works of Jesus better without being hindered. And when we ask, He will certainly grant them to us.

Hence we are told that our hearts should not be set on becoming rich on the earth, aren’t we? Do not covet riches. Be content if you have food to eat and clothes to wear. And it says that greed for riches is the root of all evil. That is idolatry. It is an act of hatred toward God. Therefore, longing for what is in the kingdom of heaven is what our God is truly pleased with. If seeking riches through the things of the earth is hatred toward God, then seeking riches through the heavenly things is an act of loving God and pleasing Him.

Thus firstly, we need to be filled with the joy that our rewards are increasing in heaven. Whatever work we do, no matter how little, we need to have that joy within us. Let us pray, that we can be filled with God’s joy. Pray that we will be filled with the joy of our rewards being stored up in heaven as we do our work.

God our Father, as we work hard, help us to be filled with faith and, therefore, the joy that our rewards are being stored up in heaven. No matter how little the work may be, let us not do it as a favor or because we are nice enough to do it, but may we look forward to the reward that we will be given accordingly in heaven. We will seek first Your kingdom and Your righteousness. Thus as the Lord promised, provide us with the basic necessities we need in our lives on earth and also with everything we need at each time so that our hearts are not distracted or mindful of anything else as we do the Lord’s work. May we experience the promise of the grace of God who provides. Lord, we all are not in comfortable circumstances and are living by the Lord’s grace day after day, Father God help us so that we will not be in hardship. Lord protect everyone to be healthy and help us not to suffer financial losses through unforeseen happenings. And when we seek first the Lord’s kingdom and righteousness, may we be at ease and always experience the marvelous and amazing provision of God. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Pastor Ki-Taek Lee
The Director of Sungrak Mission Center