“After the Philistines captured the Ark of God, they took it from the battleground at Ebenezer to the town of Ashdod. They carried the Ark of God into the temple of Dagon and placed it beside an idol of Dagon. But when the citizens of Ashdod went to see it the next morning, Dagon had fallen with his face to the ground in front of the Ark of the Lord! So they took Dagon and put him in his place again.” – 1 Samuel 5
There are several things about this passage that really amuse me. The first is how the Philistines needed to prop up their God. Any god that needs to be propped up by a man is not worth worshipping at all. But all around us we see people who are propping up others and things as their God. Now living here in the states we do not practice the same kind of idolatry that the Philistines engaged in 1,000’s of years ago, but we can still get caught up in idolatry. It happens when someone or something else rules my heart or holds the place of highest affection in my heart instead of Jesus. In his book “instruments in the redeemers hands” author Paul Tripp calls this “Covert idolatry.” “This is not a situation where some people worship and some don’t. An idol of the heart is anything that rules me other than God. As worshipping beings human beings always worship something or someone. If God is not ruling my heart, someone or something will. It is the way we were made. Because idolatry operates in the subtle shadows of the thoughts and motives of the hearts, most committed idolaters have no idea that this is their problem. But the influence is powerful just the same.”
He points out that sin is essentially a form of idolatry.
“Sin is fundamentally idolatrous. I do wrong things because my heart desires something more than the Lord. Sin produces a propensity toward idolatry in all of us”
“At its core, sin is moral thievery. It steals the worship that rightly belongs to God and gives, it to someone or something else. So every sinner in some way is a worship thief. At its center, sin is also spiritual adultery. It takes love that belongs to God alone and gives it to someone or something else.”
LIFTING UP JESUS!
The 2nd thing is that the idol of Dagon could not stand in the midst of the God of Israel. This speaks to me that our great need in the Church is to not spend the bulk of our energy, tearing down the idols and ideologies of man, but we need to spend the bulk of our time, energy and focus lifting Jesus up! What I mean by that is simply giving Jesus the place of prominence in our lives, our homes, our churches, our ministries, our friendship. As Jesus is made prominent, as Jesus is lifting up, as Jesus is exalted the idols will automatically crumble and even good things that can take over our lives are put in their proper place.