Why does God hate idolatry? God hates idolatry because it is libelous, because it makes false statements about his nature and character. Idolatry proclaims things to be true of God that are actually false. It inevitably recreates God in the image of man, diminishing him, emptying him of his holiness, of his transcendence. Tozer says it well: “A god begotten in the shadows of a fallen heart will quite naturally be no true likeness of the true God.” This idol may be one we can see and touch, a piece of stone or a stump of wood.
God is love. We love that God is love, that he is the never-ending source of love, that he is the one who always acts in loving ways. Even those who reject the Christian faith still like to imagine and believe in a God who is love.
But God is not only love. The God who loves must also hate. The God who loves all that is good and pure and holy must hate all that is evil and defiled and perverse. And, not surprisingly, the Bible tells us of many things that ignite the wrath of God. Sometimes he tells us plainly as in Proverbs 6:16: “There are six things the LORD hates…” Sometimes he tells us of things that are an abomination to him or things that are detestable in his sight. As we compile them we arrive at a list of more than 40 things that God expressly hates. They range from abhorrent sexual practices to pagan forms of worship to acts of grave injustice.
Today I am kicking off a series that will examine the things God hates, for what God hates we must hate as well. I have distilled the list of 40 into 8 categories. We begin today with God’s hatred of idolatry.
GOD HATES IDOLATRY
God created human beings to be worshippers. The question is not “will we worship?” but “whatwill we worship?” We will all pursue something as the antidote to our emptiness, our insufficiency. We will all look for meaning, for fulfillment, for satisfaction. J.I. Packer says it like this: “It is impossible to worship nothing: we humans are worshipping creatures, and if we do not worship the God who made us, we shall inevitably worship someone or something else.” Of course “the truth is that our supreme fulfillment, as moral beings made in God’s image, is found and expressed in actively worshipping our holy Creator.” No wonder, then, that the first 3 of the 10 commandments deal with proper worship of God.
God tells us in no uncertain terms that he hates idolatry. He despises the worship of anything or anyone other than himself. In Deuteronomy 7:25 he tells his people what to do when they find foreign idols in the land they are entering: They are not only to destroy the idols but even to rid themselves of the defiled raw material. “The carved images of their gods you shall burn with fire. You shall not covet the silver or the gold that is on them or take it for yourselves, lest you be ensnared by it, for it is an abomination to the LORD your God.” If God hates idols, then of course he hates idolatry, the worship of false gods. In Jeremiah 44:3 he explains that punishment has come upon his people “because of the evil that they committed, provoking me to anger, in that they went to make offerings and serve other gods that they knew not, neither they, nor you, nor your fathers.” They stubbornly ignored his prophets who repeatedly spoke this divine warning: “Oh, do not do this abomination that I hate!”