“You shall have no other gods before Me.
“You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments. (Exodus 20:3-6)
We hear a lot about modern idolatry. Possibly not enough, actually. But when we hear about it, we always hear about cars or jobs or other material things. Things, in short, that we put above God. Things we worship through our time and attention and even financial sacrifices. But, just as with the graven images God spoke of on the top of the mountain, the real object of idol worship is ourselves.
With the ancient idols, it was a question of "what can this little god do for me?" Israel created a golden calf to worship because they wanted a god. It wasn't about God, or even the calf. It was about them.
And still today, idolatry is really about ourselves. And it takes many, insidious forms. I was once mailed a paper prayer rug. Put my name on it, I was told, and pass it around, and I would be blessed. Take a trip through Social Media and count the number of posts promising the blessings of God by simply passing them on to your friends.
This is not God. This is idolatry. It is idolatry because we are placing our own needs at the forefront of our worship. It is idolatry because in seeking tips and tricks to discover God's "blessings" we cease to worship God and begin to view Him as a cosmic genie.
God doesn't exist to make you happy. And how blessed we are that He doesn't! Man is a fickle creature, happy with one thing one day, and dissatisfied the next. But the God we worship -- the Almighty, the Magnificent, the All-knowing, all Powerful -- the Creator and Shaper of the Universe wants instead to love you. He wants not to give us what we think we want, but what He knows we need: a restored relationship with Him, and an inheritance, not of temporary treasures that moths and rust destroy, but of an Eternity by His side.