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Friday, April 8, 2016

Idols and False gods of the Bible

They shall no more offer their sacrifices to demons, after whom they have played the harlot. This shall be a statute forever for them throughout their generations.” ’ - Leviticus 17:7

Something shocking is about to happen. On April 19th of this year, just a few short days from now,  a life size copy of a Temple of Baal archway will be set up in Times Square New York and in Trafalgar Square London. UNESCO has ambitions of setting up such Baal arches all over the world! Who would have imagined such a development even a year ago? This truly is a sign of the times. And it seems signs relating to the End Times are cropping up on nearly a daily basis. In order to help you understand the significance of such a development and who actually is behind it, I'm providing a short study on the Idols and False gods of the Bible and why God is so opposed to them. There's good reason why the Apostle John exhorted Christians to "Keep yourselves from idols" (1 John 5:21).
In Old Testament through Moses God states:

Leviticus 17:7 - They shall no more offer their sacrifices to demons, after whom they have played the harlot. This shall be a statute forever for them throughout their generations.” ’

This is the first mention of demons in the Bible and we see that one of the main ways demons manifest themselves is through false gods as implied by the reference to sacrifices. Idols that represented false “gods” are first alluded to in Genesis 31 when Rachel stole her father’s household idols (Genesis 31:19, 30-35). Later when Jacob has experienced personal revival he instructs his family to “Put away the foreign gods that are among you, purify yourselves, and change your garments” (Genesis 35:1-3).  Therefore we see from the beginning humanities’ proclivity to idolatry and false god worship. In light of Leviticus 17:7 we see this is demonically inspired temptation to worship something other than the one true God.

The sin that got Lucifer cast out of heaven was his attempt to usurp the throne of God Almighty. It states in Isaiah:

·         Isaiah 14:12-15 - 12 “How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning!  How you are cut down to the ground, You who weakened the nations! 13 For you have said in your heart: ‘I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation On the farthest sides of the north; 14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.’ 15 Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol, To the lowest depths of the Pit.

When Lucifer was cast from a third of the angels of heaven (who had followed him in his rebellion) were cast out with him (Rev. 12:4). That some of the angels of heaven were able to be deluded into forsaking God Almighty to follow Lucifer testifies to the delusional power of this beautiful created being. Once cast to the earth it is no surprise that Lucifer continued his attempt to be worshipped. This started in the Garden of Eden when as a serpent he tempted Eve and Adam to disobey God and His word (Gen. 3). The serpent used the same proud sinful self-delusional reasoning to tempt Adam and Eve that he had used to rebel against God Almighty.

In Genesis it states:

·         Genesis 3:1-6 - Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?” 2 And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; 3 but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’ ” 4 Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate.

Notice the serpent’s lures:

1.      First he brought into question God’s word: “Has God indeed said . . .?” (3:1).

2.      Then he introduces a question that directly challenges and questions God’s truthfulness: “You will not surely die” (3:4).

3.      He undermines Adam and Eve’s relationship with God by bringing into question God’s loving care for them: “For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (3:5). This last lure uses the attraction to knowledge coupled with the false promise of self-worship. Self-worship is a form of idolatry.

4.      Self-worship is The Great Exchange which involves a movement from seeing God as the Source of all truth to thinking you know better than God and living in a self-reliant, self-serving, self-promoting way. Self-worship opens the door to other kinds of idolatry.

In Romans we see revealed the truth that the sin of proud self-worship opens the door to all other sinful practices:

·         Romans 1:21-32 - 21 because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things. 24 Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, 25 who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. 26 For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. 27 Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due. 28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; 29 being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, 30 backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 31 undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; 32 who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.

Note the following downward spiral of sin introduced by proud self-worship:

1.      Those who knew God stopped worshipping Him: they did not glorify or thank Him (v21a).

2.      This leads to futile (i.e. vain, foolish) thinking; corrupted knowledge; sin in the mind (v21b).

3.      This leads to foolish hearts; sin in the heart (v21c).

4.      This leads to false profession: they talk as though they are wise but they are really foolish (v22).

5.      The Great Exchange: they make the grand sinful exchange: “the glory of the incorruptible God” for “an image made by corruptible man” – idolatry (v23a).

6.      This leads to further idolatry: “and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things” (v23b).

7.      God gives them over or allows them to pursue the ends of their personal willful decision to reject Him and His truth to follow their own sinful ways: “Therefore God gave them up” (v24a, 26a, 28).

8.      This leads to a downward spiral into deeper and deeper sin:

a.       Uncleanness (v24b): unclean or filthy, unholy; sinful humanity sees itself as common; sinful humanity sees itself more as just another animal than as a person created in the image of God (cf. Gen. 1:26-27).

b.      Lust (v. 24c): “lusts of their hearts”; natural God given desires are perverted into imbalanced lusts of the flesh.

c.       Dishonor (v. 24d; Greek - ἀτιμία - atimia, at-ee-mee´-ah): sinful humanity begins to misuse their bodies with others.

d.      The Great Exchange: sinful humanity living by “the lie” of self-worship leaving the truth of God as the One True God who alone is to be worshipped and obeyed (v25). Notice that sinful humanity doesn’t leave God’s truth for just any lie but “the lie.” “The lie” points us back to the original lie of the serpent in Genesis 3, the great exchange of worshipping God for worshipping self – “worshipped and served the creature [created things] rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.”

e.       Vile passions (v. 26a): “Vile” is translated from the same root of the word “dishonor” in verse 24. The idea is behavior that is embarrassing.  These vile passions are manifested in:

                                                              i.      Lesbianism: Women exchanging natural use for what is against nature (v. 26b): sexual interaction between women

                                                            ii.      Homosexuality: Men sexual activity with men (v. 27a)

1.      Burning in lust for one another (v. 27b)

2.      Shameful (v. 27c)

3.      Receiving in themselves the “penalty” of their error which was due” (v. 27d)

f.       Debased Mind (v. 28): “Debased” means worthless, rejected, reprobate (e.g. Gen. 5:5-8). The debased mind is the mind that depraved, disqualified and fails God’s test of acceptability. The debased mind is the consequence of two things: first, a person who “did not like to retain God in their knowledge”; and second, “God gave them over to”. The product of a debased mind is “to do those things which are not fitting” such as the terrible twenty four:

                                                              i.      “being filled with all unrighteousness” (v. 29a)

                                                            ii.      “sexual immorality” (v. 29b)

                                                          iii.      “wickedness” (v.29c)

                                                          iv.      “covetousness” (v. 29d)

                                                            v.      “maliciousness” (v. 29e)

                                                          vi.      “full of envy” (v. 29f)

                                                        vii.      “murder” (v. 29g)

                                                      viii.      “strife” (v. 29h)

                                                          ix.      “deceit” (v. 29i)

                                                            x.      “evil-mindedness” (v. 29j)

                                                          xi.      “whisperers” (v. 29k)

                                                        xii.      “backbiters” (v. 30a)

                                                      xiii.      “haters of God” (v. 30b)

                                                      xiv.      “violent” (v. 30c)

                                                        xv.      “proud” (v. 30d)

                                                      xvi.      “boasters” (v. 30e)

                                                    xvii.      “inventers of evil things” (v. 30f)

                                                  xviii.      “disobedient to parents” (v. 30g)

                                                      xix.      “undiscerning” (v. 31a)

                                                        xx.      “untrustworthy” (v. 31b)

                                                      xxi.      “unloving” (v. 31c)

                                                    xxii.      “unforgiving” (v. 31d)

                                                  xxiii.      “unmerciful” (v. 31e)

                                                  xxiv.      Calling good evil and evil good (Is. 5:20); encouraging sin: “who knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them” (v. 32).

This is the product of idolatry and it is incited and pushed by Lucifer/Satan and his demons. The underlying struggle involved with idolatry has to do with Satan and his fallen angels or demons who seek to rule in the place of God (Eph. 6:12).

That Satan and demons are behind idolatry is verified in scripture. In the New Testament through the apostle Paul God states:

·         1 Corinthians 8:4-6 - 4 Therefore concerning the eating of things offered to idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is no other God but one. 5 For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as there are many gods and many lords), 6 yet for us there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we for Him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and through whom we live.

·         1 Corinthians 10:19-22 - 19 What am I saying then? That an idol is anything, or what is offered to idols is anything? 20 Rather, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice they sacrifice to demons and not to God, and I do not want you to have fellowship with demons. 21 You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the Lord’s table and of the table of demons. 22 Or do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than He?

We need to be clear on something; there is only one true God. An idol is a manmade representation of an imagined god.  Such “gods” are really not gods, they are deceptive demonic manifestations.

The primary false gods of the Bible were:

1.      Adrammelech (Syria) - 2 Kin. 17:31

2.      Anammelech (Babylon) - 2 Kin. 17:31

3.      Artemis (Greek) - Acts 19:34

4.      Ashtoreth (Canaan) - 1 Kin. 11:5, 33

5.      Baal (Canaan) - 1 Kin. 18:19

6.      Baal of Peor (Moab)  - Num. 25:1–9

7.      Beelzebub (Philistine) - Luke 11:19–23

8.      Bel (Babylon) - Jer. 51:44

9.      Calf worship (Egypt) - Ex. 32:1–6

10.  Chemosh (Moab) - 1 Kin. 11:7

11.  Dagon (Philistine) - 1 Sam. 5:1–7

12.  Hermes (Greek) - Acts 14:12, 13

13.  Milcom (Ammon) - 1 Kin. 11:5

14.  Molech (Ammon) - 1 Kin. 11:7

15.  Nebo (Babylon)-  Is. 46:1

16.  Nisroch (Assyria) - 2 Kin. 19:37

17.  Rimmon (Syria) - 2 Kin. 5:18

18.  Tammuz (Babylon) - Ezek. 8:14

19.  Zeus (Greek) - Acts 14:12, 13


In addition to these false gods there were the gods of Egypt that God demonstrated His superiority to during the plagues He brought on Egypt at the Exodus (Exodus 4-12).


When we look at the sinful behavior associated with some of these gods it isn’t hard to connect demonic activity to them. The behaviors associated with idol worship of these gods were:


1.      Immorality  -  Num. 25:1–9

2.      Prostitution -  2 Kin. 23:7

3.      Divination  -  Lev. 20:1–6

4.      Sacrilege  -  Dan. 5:4

5.      Pride - 2 Kin. 18:28–35

6.      Flagellation and cutting – 1 Kings 18:26-29

7.      Persecution -   1 Kin. 19:1–3

8.      Child sacrifice  -  Jer. 7:29–34 [1]


Idolatry is a work of the flesh; it focuses on humanity and relies on human understanding rather than God’s truth (Gal. 5:19-20). That the involvement of God’s people in such “worship” and immoral conduct is abhorrent to God is demonstrated in God’s judgment on His people because of such sin (e.g. Manasseh – 2 Kings 21). Under King Josiah there was a temporary revival during which Josiah led the people back to the word of God and removed all signs of pagan idolatry (2 Kings 23). But after his death God’s people returned to their sinful idol worship demonstrating their addiction to it. They even brought idols and idol worship into the Temple of God. They mocked the prophets sent by God to rebuke and correct them and persisted in their sin until God removed His hand of protection allowing them to be defeated and taken into captivity for 70 years (2 Chron. 36:14-23; Jer. 5; 10; 25).


Galatians 4:8 tells us, “But then, indeed, when you did not know God, you served those which by nature are not gods.” Jesus said eternal life was knowing “the only true God”:

·         John 17:3 - And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.

Satan and his minions attempt to distract the lost from worshipping the one true God by tempting them with alternative “gods” that are manufactured in the imaginations of people. There is good reason why God commands His people to stay away from idolatry (Ex. 20:2-3). Worship of false gods is incompatible with God’s truth and His people should have no fellowship with such things (2 Cor. 6:15, 16). Idol worship is detestable to God (Deut. 7:25) and abominable to Him (1 Pet. 4:3). It turns His stomach to see people deluded into vain empty practices when they could be experiencing the full joy that comes in His presence (Psalm 16:11; 115:4-8; Is. 44:19; Jer. 10:3). Those who partake in idol worship actually are acting hatefully toward God (Deut. 16:22; Jer. 44:4). Idol worship is an instrument of Satan to draw people into extreme sin (Ex. 23:39). It defiles the participant (Ex. 20:7; 36:18). Because idol worship is worship of figments of imagination it is profitless (Judges 10:14; Is. 46:7). God has revealed Himself in nature, in His word and by sending His only Son (Psalm 19:1-6; Rom. 1:19-20; 1 Sam. 3:21; John 1:1-3, 14; Heb. 1:1-3). In light of God’s revelation of Himself it is idol worship is irrational (Acts 17:29; Rom. 121-23). 

In light of all of this, there is good reason that the apostle John closes his first epistle with the words, “Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.” (1 John 5:21). There is only one true God and eternal life is all about knowing Him through faith in Jesus and worshiping Him not demonically inspired idols.


[1]Thomas Nelson Publishers: Nelson's Quick Reference Topical Bible Index. Nashville, Tenn. : Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1995 (Nelson's Quick Reference), S. 259

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