Dear Associates, Students and Friends:
This months article is "The Secret of Ancient Religion Revealed! (Part 2)," written by Dr. Ernest Martin in 1982. It delves even deeper into the subject showing the background and development of idolatry, which is the worship of man-made images in addition to the worship and communication with "gods" through those images.
It is important to keep in mind that idolaters whether today or in the past never believed they were praying to or worshipping the idol or image. They always and clearly understood that they were praying or worshipping through the god that was represented by the idol or image. The apostle Paul discussed the nature of idols and the reality of the "gods" behind them,
"Now as touching things offered unto idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but charity edifies. And if any man think that he knows any thing, he knows nothing yet as he ought to know. But if any man love God, the same is known of him. As concerning therefore the eating of those things that are offered in sacrifice unto idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none other God but one. For though there be that are called gods [theos], whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods [theos] many, and lords many,) But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him. Howbeit there is not in every man that knowledge ..."
1 Corinthians 8:16
Note the phrases about knowledge that begin and end this passage, what was known to all and what was known to a few. Understand the differences. Everyone knew that idols were not the god, but for the pagans the traditions were seen to have a certain power. Only a few knew that there was only one real God, the Father and one Lord Jesus Christ. There are non-physical beings that exist, that are called gods (Greek, theos), and people made sacrifice to those beings (and do so today also) through physical idols, thinking that the gods listen and respond through the physical objects. It was rote repetition to metal, rock and wood.
However, there were entities that existed, that were real. They were also called elohim in Hebrew and theos in Greek. I ask this question, if such entities as gods, existential gods, did not really exist, then what is the great problem and prohibition with idolatry? Consider this verse from Exodus where God speaks to Israel about the Canaanites,
"Thou shalt make no covenant with them, NOR WITH THEIR ELOHIM [gods, plural], They shall not dwell in thy land, lest they make thee sin against me: For if thou serve their Elohim [gods, plural], it shall surely be a snare unto thee."
If the gods of the Canaanites did not exist (if they were only the imaginative fantasies of the Canaanites as so many theologians would have us believe), then why does God care? How could Israel make a covenant with other gods unless they were real beings. How could Israel "serve" other gods and be snared by them? In other words if they didnt exist, what was the big deal? The elohim and theos that the idols represented were actual living, nonphysical beings. They did (and do) exist and Paul called them demons. "Devils" is used in the King James Version. In Greek the most used term is daimonion. The apostle Paul says,
"What say I then? that the idol is any thing, or that which is offered in sacrifice to idols is anything? But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils. Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord's table, and of the table of devils.
1 Corinthians 10:1921
The term daimonion is the diminutive of another Greek term daimon, which is used only a few times in the Greek New Testament. In the Greek Old Testament (the LXX), daimon is used disapprovingly of the gods of the nations. In non-biblical Greek daimon and daimonion were considered beneficial teachers and instructors of secrets.
The idiots practice of idolatry and worshiping devils goes on today and will continue right to the time of the end,
"And the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood: which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk."
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David W. Sielaff
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