“And God spoke all these words: ‘I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below.” Exodus 20:1-4
Writers often use figurative language to help readers visualize their words by comparing one thing–possibly new or unknown–to something that is well known. Scriptures use many metaphors and similes to help us gain an understanding of who God–who is beyond human comprehension–is and what He is like.
A metaphor attributes a quality to an object or action to which it is not literally applicable, as in, guilty people, whose own strength is their god [Habakkuk 1:11]. Human strength is not God. And even if people choose to treat their brawn with the same worth-ship, as should belong to God alone, it does not make our muscle a god.
A simile describes an object or action by comparing it to something else using the words like or as. For example, we should not think that the divine is like gold or silver or stone–an image made by human design and skill [Acts 17:29]. Even though God’s feet are compared to polished bronze refined in a furnace [Revelation 1:14], He is not actually made of the metals and rocks that He created. Even the stones that we call precious gems can never begin to attain to the worth of our shared Creator God.
The human mind is so desirous to comprehend and appropriate Godhood, that we all too willingly accept metaphor and simile–figurative language for literal personage. We give our affections to created materials fashioned to represent the unportrayable Godhead. We accept Satan’s lie that we ourselves can be our own god [Genesis 3:5; Isaiah 14:14].
As A.W. Tozer put it, the heart of idolatry is assuming that God is something other than who and what He truly is. It is substituting an understanding of God that is made in the likeness of the Creation, rather than conforming our lives to His likeness as Creator.
But God said, don’t do it! Don’t have other gods ‘al pa-na-ya, literally, before the face of me. In other words, don’t have any other gods at all. Not, don’t prioritize or favor others over me. Don’t create anything at all to worship. Recognize me for Whom I Am, the One True God who created and loves you.
Are you guarding your heart against idolatrous notions? Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal God to you through His Word. Has Satan’s lie seared your conscious? Refuse to accept counterfeits and substitutes for the power and love of the One True God in your life.