April Fools! I promised in my last post that I would start blogging more often. Three weeks later, here we are. Gotcha, didn’t I? Unintentional April Fools’ jokes are the best.
Now, the good news is that I’ve had at least three posts bouncing around in my head in the meantime. This is the first.
As part of our Hebrew class, Psalm 115 was required reading. It’s a great psalm made even better by the unfamiliar, fresh, and raw Hebrew poetry. Its mocking description of idolatry in vv. 4-8 are pretty hilarious but sobering. Why would anyone worship idols that can’t actually do anything? The psalmist observes that “those who make them become like them; so do all who trust in them” (v. 8).
The tragic irony is that while we sneer at these ancient idolatrous practices, we ourselves are idolaters at heart. In fact, John Calvin famously referred to the human heart as an idol factory. We obsess over the self-absorbed celebrities of Hollywood. We seek a political savior in the next presidential candidate. We gather to worship at vast sports stadiums, cheering on our gods as they do battle with the gods of enemy cities. We lavish attention and praise on our cars, motorcycles, and iPhones. We hide from the world all day with iPod earbuds nestled gently in our ears, soaking in the music of our favorite musicians. We gather as families in front of our living room shrines, basking in the glow of our television sets, amusing ourselves with the latest trivialities of our culture. Our attention and energy, our passion and joy, is devoted to all of these and not to the God of the heavens.
As I think about it, at least the ancient Canaanites had a leg up on us. They worshiped idols which—they thought—possessed supernatural abilities, were immortal, and could help them in times of need. Our idols fail in every respect. These people would probably laugh at us today. They would laugh at our primitive practice of idolatry and our pathetic attempts to supplant the Lord Almighty.