Making an idol of elected leaders in the church, the community, the country, etc., is a temptation we all struggle with. We think people in positions of power will solve our problems and help us be prosperous. We trust in our physicians and the drugs they prescribe to make us well instead of trusting God to heal us through the physicians and drugs. Do you trust Scientists and think they are all-knowing and know the truth? Why is trusting those with knowledge and power, idolatry? For one thing, God wants us to trust in Him. The Old Testament is full of examples of God’s judgment toward those who did not trust Him but instead turn to powerful people for help.
Here is one example, in 2Chronicles 14, King Asa, the King of Judah, tore down all the idols and places for idol worship in the land of Judah and called the people to worship God. Early in his reign, Judah was threatened by an army of one million men and 300 chariots from Ethiopia. He went out to meet the Ethiopians with nearly 600,000 men. So, King Asa prayed to God for help, and God caused the Ethiopians to flee. Later, in his 36th year, Judah again faces another conquering army, but this time King Asa did not trust God but trusted another King to help him. 2Chronicles 16:7-9 describes what happened.
7) At that time Hanani the seer came to Asa king of Judah and said to him, “Because you relied on the king of Syria, and did not rely on the LORD your God, the army of the king of Syria has escaped you.
8) Were not the Ethiopians and the Libyans a huge army with very many chariots and horsemen? Yet because you relied on the LORD, he gave them into your hand.
9) For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him. You have done foolishly in this (not trusting God), for from now on you will have wars.”
Is your heart blameless toward God, and do you turn to God for help first? King Asa became complacent and forgot God, so God allowed a disease to afflict his feet. But instead of seeking the Lord for help, he sought physicians, then he dies. Going to physicians and taking medication is not bad. But trusting the physicians or medications to heal you is idolatry because only God heals. The book of Judges records many accounts of God’s judgment on Israel for worshiping idols.
The New Testament leaders were also idolized. For example, Acts 14:11-15 states,
11) And when the crowds saw what Paul had done, they lifted up their voices, saying in Lycaonian, “The gods have come down to us in the likeness of men!”
12) Barnabas, they called Zeus, and Paul, Hermes, because he was the chief speaker.
13) And the priest of Zeus, whose temple was at the entrance to the city, brought oxen and garlands to the gates and wanted to offer sacrifice with the crowds.
14) But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of it, they tore their garments and rushed out into the crowd, crying out,
15) “Men, why are you doing these things? We also are men, of like nature with you, and we bring you good news, that you should turn from these vain things to a living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them.
We are often tempted to make an idol of our pastors or elders by worshiping them and expecting them to meet our needs. Some pastors fall into the trap of desiring to be idolized and worshiped. So, they take on the burden of providing for the congregations requests. And often when the pastor leaves, the people who idolized him or her find another pastor who will meet their needs instead of trusting God. If the pastor does not meet the needs of those who idolize them, then they often fall away from the faith.
Have you made an idol of a politician or a presidential candidate? Instead of trusting God, do you expect the president you voted for to improve your life? How do you feel when the politician you voted for does not get elected? Do you feel hopeless and depressed? If so, you have idolized that person.
Idolatry is all around us, and you unknowingly serve and trust in them. Unseen battles with idolatry can be activities, people, relationships, people’s opinions, riches, fleshly desires, and needs, to name a few. All idols must be removed from your life because they will keep you from entering the kingdom of heaven.
You seek idols when you doubt God will provide what you want or need. But when you submit to God and trust Him, you will experience good. God created us to worship Him only and find our refuge and help in Him, and He is jealous when we trust something else. He created us to look to Him to meet our needs. So, what distracts you from worshiping God or finding refuge in Him during times of trouble? Have the worldly things you trust in given you joy, peace, and life? Though you may have temporary happiness, peace, and feel good, it is still only temporary, then comes the emptiness and depression. Only God’s love and presence can satisfy and give you lasting joy and peace.