6th of a series of studies from Habakkuk
“Of what value is an idol…?”
Habakkuk 2:18 (NIV UK)
If there is a God, what is he like?
Since history began men and women have asked that question. Is he like the sun in the sky, or is he a she, and is she like the moon? Maybe God is a hunter and thus like a lion. Or is he like an eagle, or a jackal, or a bull, or a fish, or a snake? Perhaps he has three heads? Is he half man and half beast? If we were to carve an image to represent him, what would it be? “To whom, then, will you compare God? What image will you compare him to?” (Isaiah 40:18).
In Exodus 20:4, the Israelites were told not to make an idol of any sort to show what God was like. Worshipping such an idol or any other idol was out of order. Dwelling on a physical depiction of God is pointless because God is spiritual. To behold “the glory of the immortal God” we don’t turn to “images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles” (Romans 1:23).
God referred Habakkuk to the Babylonians, who were about to overrun Judah, and explained that the idols they paid homage to were useless. Those idols cannot speak or come to life or offer any guidance to human beings. “We know that an idol is nothing at all” (1 Corinthians 8:4). “There is no breath in it” (Habakkuk 2:19). They do not reflect what God is like. “We should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone—an image made by man’s design and skill” (Acts 17:29).
The problem with idolatry is that it obscures the true image of God. So how do we know what God is like? The biblical answer is that God is revealed through Jesus Christ, who “is the image of the invisible God” (Colossians 1:15). Jesus is the only one who reveals who God is and what he is like because Jesus is “the exact representation of his being” (Hebrews 1:3). Therefore an idol has no spiritual value to anyone.
Habakkuk was appalled that God would allow the idolatrous, proud Babylonians to invade his nation. He had to learn to stop talking and listen to God.
Our Father, thank you for Jesus who reveals what you are like. Help me not to look for you in anything or in anyone but him. In Jesus’ name.
Study by James Henderson