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Bible Dictionaries

Morrish Bible Dictionary


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The worship of idols — a sin which is mentioned as committed after the flood. There seems to have been a universal giving up of the knowledge of the true God. Paul, speaking of men, says that when they knew God, they glorified Him not as God, they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, notwithstanding that what may be known of God in nature, His eternal power and Godhead, was manifested to them. They degraded the worship of the true God everywhere, and idolatry became universal. In this, man had no excuse. Images were made like corruptible man, and birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things. Romans 1:20-23 . From this state Abram was rescued by the God of glory appearing to him. Scripture shows the folly of a man cutting down a tree, and burning part of it to cook his food and to warm himself, and yet making a god of the rest, and worshipping it, Isaiah 44:14-17; and yet Israel, to whom God had revealed Himself, not only as Creator but in redemption, adopted these wicked follies. There were also molten images and images of stone.

Imaginary creatures were regarded as gods, and these were feared and propitiated. Some believed in a fetish of good and a fetish of evil. Others had an elaborate system of mythology, as the Greeks, with husbands and wives and sons and daughters of the gods and goddesses. Man himself was exalted by some into a god, as with the Greeks and the Romans.

In Israel at first there might have been the thought that the idol was only a representative of God, just as the Egyptians professed to have representations of their unseen gods. When the golden calf was made Aaron built an altar before it, and said, "To-morrow is a feast to Jehovah;" but the people said, "These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt." Exodus 32:4,5 . Yet they had been commanded to make no graven image, because they saw no similitude when God spake to them at Horeb. This species of idolatry is seen further developed in the case of Micah, who had a house of gods. See MICAH.

The secret of all the abominations in idolatry is, that Satan is the grand mover of it. To Israel it was said that they were no more to offer sacrifices unto demons. Leviticus 17:7 . They "sacrificed their sons and their daughters unto demons ." Psalm 106:37 . They made their children pass through the fire to Molech, 2 Kings 23:10; Ezekiel 23:37,39; "slaying the children in the valleys under the clefts of the rocks." Isaiah 57:5 .

As to the sacrificing being to demons, the same thing is said of the idolatry at Corinth, with its Grecian mythology. 1 Corinthians 10:20 . Satan being the real promoter of it all, he knows how to lead a poor unintelligent heathen to be satisfied with an imaginary fetish; the Greeks and Romans to be pleased with their stately statues; and the Brahmins and Hindus to pride themselves in their superior and refined mysticism. Satan has also succeeded in introducing into the professing church the worship of the Virgin Mary and of the saints. To this must be added another species of idolatry to which Christians are sometimes enticed, namely, that of letting anything but Christ have the first place in the heart; for in Him God is revealed, He "is the image of the invisible God" — "He is the true God." "Little children, keep yourselves from idols." 1 John 5:21 . The word εἴδωλον is from εἶδος, 'that which is seen, ' and covetousness is specially characterised as idolatry. Colossians 3:5 .

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These files are public domain.
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Bibliography Information
Morrish, George. Entry for 'Idolatry'. Morrish Bible Dictionary. 1897.

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