“He that is so impoverished that he hath no oblation chooseth a tree that will not rot; he seeketh unto him a cunning workman to prepare a graven image, that shall not be moved.”
You may have read this verse and thought: “Time out! I have never carved an idol out of a tree. I am not guilty of this!” But let us get down to the root problem behind a graven image and we may find ourselves more guilty then we realized. What is a graven image? What is the root of a graven image? A graven image is something that is thought about and then created. In other words it is the fruit of an imagination.
Idolatry starts with self-focused imagination. A graven image is the product of a wrong imagination. I would say that imagining or meditating on things that are not of God is the core of idolatry. When the idol is finally carved from the tree, bought from the store, or driven off the lot, we are simply seeing the fruit of our wrong thinking. Suddenly this verse becomes intensely personal as we realize that if we are thinking about or imagining things that are not of God we are creating a graven image mentally. When looked at in this light we start to realize how guilty we are of idolatry.
It comes back to what we think about; what we meditate on. Every ‘idol’ in our life is the result of a wrong meditation. If we really want to deal with this issue of idols (another name for them could be competing affections) we have to cut them off at the root which is our wrong imaginations. If we simply deal with the graven image we will find that quickly something else comes popping up because the issue did not start with the idol it started with our wrong meditations.
Think about it, how many times have you had the Lord convict you about something in your life? Maybe it was a certain activity or relationship that was taking too much of your time. Maybe it was something that you were viewing or listening to that was not honoring to the Lord and you realized that it had become a competing affection (idol) in your life. You gave up the item or the activity only to find a few weeks or days later another competing affection of a similar nature popped up and you found yourself back where you started. Have you found this in your life?
Let me share an illustration with you. Over the last ten years I have helped weed many flower beds and gardens and I have found something that perhaps you have found too. I found that if I just broke the tops off the weeds, instead of pulling them up the by the roots, the job was much faster and easier. From outward appearance the garden may look almost as good as if I had pulled them up by the roots. The outward appearance had been dealt with but the root problem had not. If I just broke the tops off, these weeds would grow back up extremely fast because they had not been plucked up by the roots.
Often in our lives we do the same thing. We deal with the surface things, but all to often we miss the root of the things and so they come popping back up very quickly. I believe the roots of so many of the idolatrous weeds in our lives come from meditating on the wrong things. We will find that if we deal with our wrong, ungodly thinking and replace it with meditating on the Word of God we will find the idols in our hearts crushed and rooted out of our lives.
Are we guilty of doing what Isiah 40:20 talks about? Have we imagined and meditated on sin and self and as a result found competing affections begin to pop up in our lives? If so, by the supernatural power of God, in total dependence on His Son the Lord Jesus, let us root out those competing affections in our lives and not just deal with the surface problem but get down to the root cause and replace the meditation on my self and my things with meditating on the Word of God. Let us be washed in the water of the Word by meditating on the Word day and night. As we meditate on His Word, may the Lord Jesus consume every one of our thoughts so that we think of Him all the day long.