As I study the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20:1-17, I focus upon the first two commandments. To state them concisely, God is saying: 1) You shall have no other gods before Me. 2)You shall not make idols. Jesus summarizes these first commandments in Matthew 22:37, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.”
According to Halley’s Bible Handbook, “Reverence for God is the basis of the Ten Commandments.
. . . Idolatry is absolutely forbidden.” Worship God. No idols allowed.
Worship can be defined simply as a feeling or expression of reverence and adoration towards God. This is God’s request in the first two commandments.
John Piper says, “True worship is a valuing or a treasuring of God above all things.”
When reading the book of Exodus, we become aware that Moses was on the mountain a long time getting instructions from the Lord. The Israelites became impatient. In Exodus 32 , the people asked Aaron to make an idol. He complied and made a golden calf from their jewelry. They made sacrifices on an altar in front of the calf and had a festival. Oh-oh! Here is an idol. Here is idol worship.
When God’s people broke His commandments, it broke God’s heart.
We criticize the Israelites for worshiping idols, but are we any different? Think about it.
To what do you give priority in your life?
Whom do you most want to please?
What thoughts consume your mind?
Your answers may help you discover if you have any idols in your life. All of us are capable of creating idols. Before we realize it, we worship the idols we create.
Delesslyn A. Kennebrew writes, “True worship, in other words, is defined by the priority we place on who God is in our lives and where God is on our list of priorities. True worship is a matter of the heart expressed through a lifestyle of holiness. Thus, if your lifestyle does not express the beauty of holiness through an extravagant or exaggerated love for God, and you do not live in extreme or excessive submission to God, then I invite you to make worship a non-negotiable priority in your life.”
Idol worship is still a reality today. What about idle worship?
Let me give an example to explain what I consider idle worship. If a car engine is idling, it is running but not moving. If we are engaging in idle worship, we are singing and saying the right words but we are not moving closer into God’s presence.
Psalm 47:1-2, 7-8 NKJV declares, “Oh, clap your hands, all you peoples! Shout unto God with the voice of triumph! For the Lord Most High is awesome; He is a great King over all the earth. . . . For God is the King of all the earth, sing praises with understanding. God reigns over the nations; God sits on His holy throne.”
While reading or singing these words, are we sincerely moving into God’s presence? Or, are we only going through the motions of clapping our hands without any sense of triumph in our hearts? We must be careful. It is easy to worship idly.
It is possible to recognize God as God while our attitude is not pleasing to Him. We are guilty of idle worship when we worship only with our mouths and not with our hearts, souls and minds.
Idle worship is unproductive worship. It has no influence upon our lives. However, Psalm 103:2 tells us to “Praise the LORD, my soul, and forget not all his benefits.” James 1:22 says, “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.”
We must not give place to idol worship or idle worship.
God declares in Isaiah 45:6, “There is no one besides Me. I am the LORD, and there is no other.” So, let us “Give unto the Lord glory and strength. Give unto the Lord the glory due His name. Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness,” as declared in Psalm 29:1-2.
Hebrews 12:28 says, “Let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe.” (my emphasis)
No idol worship. No idle worship. Only God worship.