Saturday, December 3, 2016

Deadly Sin of Idolatry

20 But the people who did not die in these plagues still refused to repent of their evil deeds and turn to God. They continued to worship demons and idols made of gold, silver, bronze, stone, and wood—idols that can neither see nor hear nor walk! 21 And they did not repent of their murders, their witchcraft, their sexual immorality, or their thefts. Revelation 9:20-21 (NLT)

Revelation chapters 6 through 19 describe the outpouring of God’s wrath of judgment upon sinful humanity. Each series of judgments increased in intensity from one-fourth in chapter 6 to one-third of the earth in chapters 8 and 9, and finally to total destruction in chapters 15 and 16. God’s wrath and judgment revealed in the book of Revelation was not vengeful but God’s final attempt to bring sinful humanity to redemption and repentance.  Like the watchman and his trumpet in the Old Testament book of Ezekiel, the judgments warn people of impending danger to lead them to God in repentance and redemption (see Ezekiel 33).  The Holy Scriptures reveal God’s grace, patience, compassion, love, and mercy (see e.g., Exodus 34:6-7; 2 Chronicles 30:9; Psalm 116:5-6). In His mercy and patience, God gives everyone an opportunity to repent and turn from their evil deeds and wickedness (Revelation 2:21-22; Revelation 9:20-21; Revelation 16:9, 11; see also Amos 4:6-13; Romans 2:4-5).

Yet with each series of judgments, many people refused to repent of their wickedness and stop “worshiping demons and idols of gold and silver and bronze and stone and wood, which cannot see or hear or walk, nor did they repent of their murders or their sorceries or their sexual immorality or their thefts” (Revelation 9:20-21, ESV). Sadly, many people hardened theirs rebellious hearts, cursed God, and continued worshipping the destructive, worthless, and deadly forces of demons and idols of gold, silver, bronze, stone, and wood (Revelation 13:3-4, 16-18; Revelation 16:9,11, 21; see also Psalm 115:4-7; Psalm 135:15-17; Isaiah 17:8). In other words, many people continued to worship the works of their own hands, which could well include the buildings they constructed, the machines they made, and the cities they built (see e.g., Isaiah 44:6-20; Daniel 5:23).  Their idol worship plunged people into murder, witchcraft, sorcery, sexual immorality, dishonesty, corruption, and thief (Revelation 9:21; Revelation 21:8; Revelation 22:15; see also Galatians 5:19-21). Because of sinful humanities’ continued rebellion and wickedness, God promises to bring total destruction upon the earth (see Revelation 16:1-21). The rebellious people will be thrown into the eternal pit of eternal suffering along with Satan and his allies (Revelation 14:9-11; Revelation 20:10; see also e.g., Matthew 13:36-43, 47-50).

Significantly, God prohibited many of the sins listed in Revelation 9:20-21 from His Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:3–17; see also Luke 18:20; Romans 13:9). Sinful humanity broke the first two commandments by making and worshiping demons and idols (see Exodus 20:3-4). In their murders, they violated the sixth commandment, and in their thefts, the eighth commandment was violated (see Exodus 20:13, 15). By their sexual immorality, un-repented humanity violated the seventh commandment (see Exodus 20:14). In Revelation 22:15, those who practice murder, thief, magic arts, sexual immorality, and falsehood (lying) have no part in the new heaven and earth (see also Revelation 21:7-8).

Idolatry is a deadly sin that seeks to worship and trust in anything other than the true and living God.  Ultimately, idolatry leads to the worship of Satan and his demons (see 1 Corinthians 8:4-6; 1 Corinthians 10:19-20). Satan has always wanted to be worshiped as God (see e.g., Isaiah 14:12-15; Matthew 4:8-10). However, the Lord God and His Son Jesus the Lamb must be faithfully worshipped, loved, and obeyed (Revelation chapters 4:11; Revelation 5:12-14; Revelation 14:6-7; see also, Deuteronomy 6:13-17; Deuteronomy 10:12-13, 17, 21; 1 Samuel 7:3; Matthew 4:10; Luke 4:8). The Holy Scriptures repeatedly teach that life, joy, and peace comes with our love and worship of God and obedience to His moral commandments (see e.g., Deuteronomy 28; Joshua 24:14-15; John 15:1-17). There is only one true God, the Father, who created everything and only one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom God made everything and through whom we have been given life (see e.g., Psalm 86:10; John 1:1-5; 1 Corinthians 8:6; Ephesians 4:5-6; 1 Timothy 2:5).

Throughout the entire universe and the Holy Scriptures, the true and living God has revealed His gracious and invisible presence to all humanity (see e.g., Genesis 1:1-2; Deuteronomy 6:4-6; Psalm 19:1-6; Acts 14:17; Acts 17:24-27). Even more, the Old Testament and New Testament writers reveal God’s repeated efforts to draw people to worship Him as the true and living God.  Despite God’s loving presence and patience, many people refuse to worship Him and obey His moral commandments. Instead, many people continue to seek and worship the destructive habits of demons and worship idols (gods) of gold, silver, bronze, stone, and wood (see Romans 1:18-25). God has given everyone free will to either follow Him as the only true God (see e.g., Deuteronomy 4:35, 39; 1 Corinthians 8:4) or follow the path of destruction, death, and wrath (see e.g., Ephesians 5:3-7; Colossians 3:5-6).

God does not want anyone to perish, but He wants everyone to enjoy the abundant and eternal blessings of light and life through repentance and redemption (Matthew 4:17; Mark 1:14-15; John 3:15-21; John 17:3; see also 2 Peter 3:9). God does truly love the world, and He wants no one to perish (see John 3:16; Luke 15). However, when people repeatedly reject God and His commandments, then judgment must fall (Romans 2:4-11)! God is not vindictive, but He will honor humanities’ free will that often leads to eternal destruction and death (see e.g., Romans 1:18-32).

Despite God’s outpouring of judgment and wrath, many people refused to repent of “their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts” (Revelation 9:21, KJV). “Sorceries” include magical arts, potions, witchcraft, and poisons (Revelation 18:23; Revelation 21:8; Revelation 22:15; see also Galatians 5:20). Interestingly, the word translated “sorcery” is the Greek word pharmakia, which means “the use of drugs.”  Thus, many biblical scholars noted their religious activities involve worship of idols and demons (devils), and sorceries or witchcraft, with the use of magic potions and mind altering drugs. 

Repentance is an active step and a radical redirection of one’s entire life from the ways of the wicked to the fruits of goodness (see e.g., Matthew 3:1-2, 8-10; Galatians 5:19-23). Jesus Christ, the true author of Revelation, called upon His churches and the inhabitants of the earth to repent of their wickedness and evil and turn wholeheartedly in faith and obedience to the living God (see Revelation 2:5, 16, 21-22; Revelation 3:3, 19; Revelation 16:11; see also Matthew 4:17). If His Church and inhabitants of the world do wake up and turn from sin, Jesus promises He will “come like a thief” and visit them in judgment and wrath (see Matthew 24:42-44; 1 Thessalonians 5:2; 2 Peter 3:10). 

Life Application Study Bible (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Pub., 2005).
Loyd, Melton, Ph.D., Senior Professor of New Testament (Due West, SC: Erskine Theological Seminary, 2016).
Metzger, Bruce. Breaking the Code: Understanding the Book of Revelation (Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 1993).
Mounce, Robert H. The Book of Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1998).
Wiersbe, Warren W. Bible Exposition Commentary –New Testament (Victor Books, 1989).

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