Idol Smashing

Published on January 10, 2017 by Paul Ryan  

Kevin was jealous. I should have seen it coming. How naïve I was!

Jamee – Kevin’s girlfriend – invited me to watch a movie at her house after a cross-country meet. We had been friends for some time, so I thought nothing of it. Kevin was not happy, though. He glared at me during study hall. He refused to speak to me at choir practice. He “accidentally” knocked me into my locker. Later that afternoon, Jamee said to me, “Kevin’s pissed at you.” Me! What did I do?

So it goes with jealousy. A jealous person directs all of his indignation toward the one who threatens his possession. He stops at nothing to see that his rights are honored by all.

It may seem surprising, but these characteristics can be said of God. The LORD is a jealous God. He is our God and we are his people. In this relationship, we are his possession; he alone has rights to us. Because of this, God is jealous whenever false gods tempt us away from him. In Exodus 34:14 Moses says to Israel, “Do not worship any other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.”

What intrigues me is that God’s jealously is connected to worship. Did you notice in the verse above how God’s jealously results in a command not to worship any other god? We are to worship the LORD alone.

But there is another dimension here. We can see this in the verse preceding v. 14: “Break down their altars, smash their sacred stones and cut down their Asherah poles” (v. 13). In this verse we see that God’s jealousy not only results in a negative command (i.e. worship no other god), but also results in a kind-of idol smashing. Worship, therefore, is not only about affirming our relationship with God, but it is also about casting down and smashing idols.

Have you ever conceived of worship as an hour for idol smashing? In praise we declare, “You alone are God. There is none like you. You are exalted far above all gods!”[1] In confession, we name the idols that have led us astray.[2] In dedication, we join with our jealous God and say, “No more! We cast down our idols.”[3]

As you consider your youth, what idols need smashing? What gods need to cower in the face of a great and jealous God? Popularity? Grades? Entertainment? In worship we ought to have a threatening glare toward all that would lead us astray. We ought to disassociate ourselves with the gods that tempt us. We might even knock over a few idols that get in our way.

[1] Ps. 95:3; 96:4-5; 97:7, 9

[2] Ps. 78:58; 106:36

[3] Ps. 24