Gods Heart for His PeopleComment
Imagine you’re standing in an art gallery looking at the famous Leonardo da Vinci painting of The Mona Lisa. A young child looks at the picture and goes away. He comes back with a painting. While it’s clear he’s tried to replicate The Mona Lisa, it isn’t THE Mona Lisa. Now it would be impossible to say to Leonardo himself “Hard to tell them apart hey?” without sounding like you’re joking because we know there is only one Leonardo da Vinci and only one original artwork of The Mona Lisa.
So why the story? Because I want to draw a link between it and God’s command to his people to not make idols to worship.
“You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.” -Exodus 20:4-6
So imagine now, the child’s painting gets hung up in place of the original and everyone continues to marvel at how amazing a work it is and Leonardo, though we might perhaps call it jealousy, has every right to say “This is not my work, do not attribute that to me!” It would be an insult.
Any image, carving, idol or statue we as humans could make, is a very poor attempt to create a likeness of the Lord God and an insult to God’s holiness. Even to use the image of the sun, which is extremely powerful, pales in comparison and God has the right to say ‘Not even close!’ Nothing in all of creation can be used as a representation of God, because what can you imagine that compares to his greatness?
In worshipping an idol, it’s almost as if we were willing to accept a cheap imitation and call it an original, but even that doesn't fully convey the heart God had for his people in giving them this command. God wants us to know him personally and worship him exclusively. He has not hidden himself from those who would earnestly seek him and he has given his people a clear command to accept no substitute.
In a world where worship of idols is somewhat ancient, the issue for us today is to discern what we do worship, instead of God. It may not be a carving of another god as the Israelites decided to do in Exodus 32, but it may be a god of our own imagining, be it money, power, popularity, possessions. All of these can become a substitute that takes the rightful place of God in our hearts and they’re not even close. Hopefully, by examining our own hearts we can identify a need to remove those idols that are a very poor imitation when lined up next to an almighty and loving God.