Yesterday as I sat in a doctors office waiting for an appointment, directly across from me stood a two foot, beautiful carved wooden Native American woman. Her eyes seemed to pierce right through my soul and my imagination got the best of me. The artwork so cunningly worked, I had to avert my eyes away and I shifted in my seat, feeling uncomfortable beneath her constant stare. Curiostiy pulled my attention back to her again and these scriptures came to my mind:
“He that is so impoverished that he hath no oblation chooseth a tree that will not rot; he seeketh unto him a cunning workman to prepare a graven image, that shall not be moved. “ (Is. 40)
“Who hath formed a god, or molten a graven image that is profitable for nothing? . . . He heweth him down cedars, and taketh the cypress and the oak, which he strengtheneth for himself among the trees of the forest: he planteth an ash, and the rain doth nourish it. Then shall it be for a man to burn: for he will take thereof, and warm himself; yea, he kindleth it, and baketh bread; yea, he maketh a god, and worshippeth it; he maketh it a graven image, and falleth down thereto. He burneth part thereof in the fire; with part thereof he eateth flesh; he roasteth roast, and is satisfied: yea, he warmeth himself, and saith, Aha, I am warm, I have seen the fire: And the residue thereof he maketh a god, even his graven image: he falleth down unto it, and worshippeth it, and prayeth unto it, and saith, Deliver me; for thou art my god. (Is. 44)
I have never been exposed to an idol worshipping religion and so reading these scriptures in the past and thinking about people worshiping carved images has always seemed like such foolishness to me. But now, as I sat here in the office under the realistic and intense glare of this artistically crafted wooden woman an understanding came into my heart that had not been there before; And I always praise my Jesus for these precious moments of insight, for the door of understanding is a door of freedom and growth, first for oneself, and then to share with others.
I began to feel the strong hold that such an idol could take on a people who did not know the one and only true God. It has been said that the imagination is the stongest nation and that is why the apostle Paul warns us in 2 Corinthians 10: 4 & 5 when he says, “(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; “
But even beyond that, another lesson came through to my heart. The Lord spoke to me clearly and said that if a wooden idol could have such a pull and quickly take such a strong hold of fear on the imagination of a vulnerable soul, how much more a man or woman that has life energy flowing out of them. When they stand behind a pulpit, high above the rest of the people and take an “authorative” position, how great an influence does that have on vulnerable souls? Now add to that, a man or woman that shouts, gets angry, pounds on the pulpit or stomps; What an impact!
You see, life is a mystery and the imagination and fear are very powerful. All through history we have untold accounts of brutal genocides all done in the name of “beliefs” or “God’s” or some powerful man that got behind some form of a pulpit and began swaying massive amounts of people. And just like that wooden woman, the people are drawn in, because they are not listening to the true God- the God of love, peace, joy, humbleness, meekness, goodness, mercy, etc… They are unsure of themselves, and unsure of life. This unsurity and insecurity in man leaves him vulnerable to be taken captive by whatever comes along claiming to be the “authority of God.”
One thing I am learning- truth will produce something inside your heart. If you are sinning, it will produce conviction. There may be some fear that you are missing the mark with God. But truth will also produce abundance of mercy. It will pave a beautiful road right to the cross of Christ to have those sins forgiven, removed and cast into the depths of the sea.
Truth will produce love. Truth will produce peace and joy. Truth will set you FREE! Free from the corruption of sin and all its ugly vices. Free from religious forms and rituals. Free to be a child of God and all He created you to be. Free to grow in Christ. Free to have His spirit in your heart teaching you and leading you. Free from all the opinions of men. You now have Christ alone as your head and your advocate.
But if your “faith” is filling you with fears, doubt, confusion, hatred for certain groups of people, if it is drawing you into men causing you to obey voices outside rather than instilling the voice of the Holy Spirit within and helping you to trust and follow that voice, it may very well be you have an earthly idol set up somewhere. It may be a religious system. Religious systems will either cause you to be zealous in a wrong way- usually for their system, or it will sap you of your spiritual zeal. It may be a pastor- you may be idolizing, worshipping, obeying a pastor or some man that you hold up as a “man of God.” The bible teaches us that in Christ, we are all priests. None of us is above another. Pastors are there for our service and help alone. They are not our rulers nor dictators. It may be your own life- things you know that God is not pleased with but you are not willing to give up. God knows and an all loving God can help you understand and conquer it in Christs name.
You see, idols can take an extremely strong hold in our life. I know. I have been battling many of them in my own life, and by the grace of God, He is helping me conquer them. That is how I am getting these lessons- through experience. And let me tell you, “the FEAR of man brings a snare.” Many so called “heathen” people have been mocked and laughed at over their intense fear of wooden idols but so much more do we have to battle the intense fear we ALL have of the fear of men. When we stop bowing before their idols, their systems, their ideas of what thier own imaginations have set up as “God” we will not be liked.
But we can take courage. Because so it was with Jesus. Our Lord Jesus Christ deliberately, carefully, purposefully, openly, broke the rules of the Pharisees! He followed one- the voice within- the Holy Spirit.
“The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the LORD shall be safe.” (Proverbs 29:25)