The Cycle of Idolatry- Isaiah 1: 29-31

According to Paul in Romans 12, to worship someone or something means to “offer our bodies as a living sacrifice” (Romans 12:1), to worship someone or something means to offer ourselves to it. Paul also tells us, in Romans 6:12-17, that we become enslaved by what we offer ourselves to. Each human being has been given the choice of who or what we will worship. We are free to choose to worship either God or someone or something else, to worship the one true God or one of many possible substitutes. Paul also tells us we will begin to resemble what we worship, and that human beings are created to worship God alone. We are created to be like Him, and we are to “worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only” (Matthew 4:10). Why is what or who we worship (offer ourselves to) so important? We will turn to a passage from the prophet Isaiah, who shows us why the choice of who we offer ourselves to is so very important. We will turn to Isaiah 1:29-31, and look at what has been called the “cycle of idolatry”. Idolatry is the choice to worship anyone or anything other than the one true God, and Isaiah describes for us here the fruit of that choice. We begin in verse 29, in which Isaiah tells us that “You will be ashamed because of the sacred oaks, in which you have delighted”. What does Isaiah mean by this? The two primary pagan gods in this time and place were Baal and Asherah. Baal was the god of rain, and Asherah was the goddess of fertility, and they were seen as working together to provide a harvest for those who offered up sacrifices to them. Asherah was represented by a tree, so many worshipped trees as a symbol of Asherah. So Isaiah’s use of “sacred oaks” here is a reference to any form of idolatry, to worshipping any God but the true one. This is the first step in the cycle of idolatry, the choice to worship or offer ourselves to anyone or anything but the one true God. The second step is then found in verse 30, in which Isiah tells those who worship the “sacred trees” that they will “be like an oak”. When we choose to worship something, we begin to resemble it, we become “like” it, we become like what we worship. The final step is then found in verse 31, in which Isaiah tells us we will “burn together” with them, or we will be destroyed by them. So the three steps of idolatry are: 1) worship an idol 2) become like the idol 3) be ultimately destroyed by the idol. So we find here that the choice to worship any kind of idol, anyone or anything other than the one true God will ultimately lead to our destruction. Every human being has been given a choice, we are all faced day by day with the choice to “choose this day whom you will serve (worship)” (Joshua 24:15). We will then become like whatever we choose to worship. If we choose to worship the one true God, we will become like Him and find life through Him. If we choose to worship anyone or anything else, we will become like it and ultimately be destroyed by it. It is our prayer for every believer that every moment of every day we will choose to say “as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15), and not choose to serve any other “god” and be destroyed by it.

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