"Images of Nothingness"
Our memory verse for the week calls us to "keep yourselves from idols" (I John 5:21). This raises the question, what is an idol?
The Old and New Testaments combine to give us a working definition. The Hebrew root word for idol means "nothing" or "nothingness". The Greek root means "image". Unite the two definitions, and the fundamental Biblical definition of idol means can be rendered "image of nothing".
We must consider the meaning in both physical and spiritual terms. Regarding the latter, believers are commanded to "make you no idols nor graven image, neither rear you up a standing image, neither shall ye set up any image of stone in your land, to bow down unto it" (Leviticus 26:1). This restriction proceeds from the truth that "God is a Spirit, and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth" (John 4:24). Attempting to construct any form of physical object for the purposes of simulating our Lord distorts our understanding and communication of His fundamental nature. It also distracts us from the true worship, faith, and service to God required in a present relationship with Him whereby we "walk by faith, not by sight" (II Corinthians 5:7). As the Apostle Paul declared of his personal devotion, "God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the Gospel of His Son" (Romans 1:9).
A more subtle and dangerous temptation exists in the temptation to idolatry faced most often by born again believers in the Lord Jesus. Namely, our spiritual enemies prod us to erect internal idols, that is, gods of nothingness to which we look for the fulfillment of our hearts. When we look anything or anybody other than the living and true God for that which only He can provide, we construct an idol within our minds. Be it love, peace, joy, contentment, strength, wisdom, or any number of other Divinely-supplied provisions of the heart, we worship mental images of nothingness when we foolishly divert our trust from the Lord Jesus to false gods who cannot help us. Moreover, we allow our spiritual enemies to inflict great harm upon us when we trust in vanity rather than the blessed Reality of Something, or rather, Somebody. "They served their idols: which were a snare unto them" (Psalm 106:36).
As we seek to keep ourselves from idols, tangible images of gold, silver, or stone may not tempt us. Other false deities, gods of nothingness, may nevertheless beckon us to bow before their destructive void. Distraction from the living and true God will ensue, to the great harm and detriment of ourselves and others. Again, anything or anybody to whom we look for the fulfillment, contentment, and satisfaction of our hearts becomes an idol to us no less than Nebuchchadnezzar's ancient image of gold to which he commanded obeisance (Daniel 3). We worship nothingness when we trust and submit ourselves to anything or anybody other than the God and Father of our Lord Jesus. The effect of such foolish devotion is something, however, something of danger that leads us to heed the Apostle's warning - "Keep yourselves from idols".
"Their idols are silver and gold, the work of men's hands. They have mouths, but they speak not: eyes have they, but they see not: they have ears, but they hear not: noses have they, but they smell not: they have hands, but they handle not: feet have they, but they walk not: neither speak they through their throat. They that make them are like unto them; so is every one that trusteth in them."
Weekly Memory Verse
Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.
(I John 5:21)