Of course, the worship to an inanimate carved image in addition to or instead of worship to Jehovah has been an abomination since the beginning of time and continues to be. There are scores of passages, practical examples and implications throughout the Holy Text that make this an obvious truth.
I did want us to see four passages this month, from our New Testament that show that image worship continued to be a cultural bane in the first century and was a temptation as heathen people, formerly deeply entrenched in image worship, came to know the truth about the singularity of Jehovah and His church.
Those verses are these:
Acts 17—Paul’s discourse on Mars Hill obviously takes its trajectory from His viewing the numerous images in Athens. He uses their idolatrous worship to contrast the image service with obedience to the one true God to Whom they had given the nod in their statue “To the Unknown God.” From this passage it is obvious that the statues were tangible and plentiful in Athens and they were sinful.
I Corinthians 10:20-33— In this context, there’s a strong condemnation of tangible altar sacrifices to inanimate gods:
“But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils.”
This passage is a comparison to the altars of the holy priests of the Israelite system, so this condemnation is specifically about the worship of the inanimate. It is very strong.
Revelation 9:20,21 speaks of those who failed to repent of worshipping idols made of silver and gold. The mention of the metals from which these gods were formed makes us certain the passage is referring to image worship.
Acts 15 is the context of the Jerusalem meeting and verse twenty says this:
“But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood.”
While this passage does not specifically say “images” rather than “idols of the heart”, it is contextually speaking of Gentile worship to mythical gods represented by graven images.
Now there are many verses about idolatry in the New Testament that would prohibit both image worship and mental idolatry (giving my heart’s devotion to some entity of this world). But these plainly imply the wickedness of image worship.
The hardest part of abstaining from idolatry for us, as Christians in the 21st century, is getting our focus out of the temporary allurements and onto the service of Jehovah and the hope of heaven. At the same time, there still exists literal, physical image worship in our world today and our repudiation of such should never be questioned by those around us.
The Lord our God is One Lord. (Ex. 6:4)