Habakkuk 2:18-20 - Useless Art
Beware of worship that relies on optics & images.
Read / Listen
Read Habakkuk 2:18-20
18 “Of what value is an idol carved by a craftsman?
Or an image that teaches lies?
For the one who makes it trusts in his own creation;
he makes idols that cannot speak.
19 Woe to him who says to wood, ‘Come to life!’
Or to lifeless stone, ‘Wake up!’
Can it give guidance?
It is covered with gold and silver;
there is no breath in it.”
20 The Lord is in his holy temple;
let all the earth be silent before him.
Listen to passage & devotional:
Heidelberg Catechism Q&A 98
Q. But may not images be
permitted in the churches
as teaching aids for the unlearned?
A. No, we shouldn’t try to be
wiser than God.
He wants his people instructed
by the living preaching of his Word—
not by idols that cannot even talk.
The people of Israel really struggled with idolatry. Almost immediately after God had given them the 10 Commandments, they created a golden calf. They went on to worship the bronze snake. They built altars and sacrificed to Baal on them. The list goes on and on.
The prophet Habakkuk, along with other prophets, is calling the people out for their false worship. Idolatry is a terrible sin against the Lord, and humanity has been struggling with it since the very beginning. Why did Adam and Eve eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil? Because they thought they could become like God themselves!
There is no value in an idol carved of stone or wood. They are just human made images, that pale in comparison to God Most High. They cannot guide us. They cannot help us. They cannot save us. They are not alive, nor can they give life.
When I was a kid, my Sunday school teachers would use flannelgraphs for Bible lessons. They would pull out the board, and then they would start to read from the Bible. As they read about Moses and the burning bush, they would place a flock of sheep on the board. Then they would place the burning bush. Then they would place Moses on the edge of the board, eventually moving him to the burning bush. It was a fun way to learn Bible stories.
Whenever we would study the gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) there would not be flannelgraphs for Jesus. My class questioned why. My teacher would refer to question and answers 97 & 98 in the Heidelberg Catechism.
God can not and may not being visibly portrayed in any way. What about images to help others learn? No, we should not be wiser than God.
Humanity is easily led astray by our desire to be wiser than God. Surely, we think, we can create a picture of Jesus and it will not be an issue. God gave the people a bronze snake to save them from venomous snake bites and they eventually offered incense to that snake. Simple things like a picture of Jesus can lead to idolatry and they are forbidden by the Lord. I’ve been in a church building that had statues of Jesus and the apostles, and sacrifices were being made to those images.
God gave his people the second commandment, and it forbids idolatry. While we most often think of idolatry as a golden calf or bronze snake, it can happen with images of Jesus as well. Anything that gets us thinking of God in a way that is contrary to his nature is to be guarded against. Pray that God would reveal the idols that you may be struggling with in your life so that you can worship and serve him alone.
ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: God Most High, giver of life and eternal life;
ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Ask God to reveal the idols that I have in your life so that you can worship and serve God alone.
ASK GOD FOR WHAT YOU NEED:
Read the New Testament in a year, a chapter a day - 2 Corinthians 8