Hear the word that the LORD speaks to you, O house of Israel. Thus says the LORD:
Do not learn the way of the nations,
or be dismayed at the signs of the heavens;
for the nations are dismayed at them.
For the customs of the peoples are false:
a tree from the forest is cut down,
and worked with an ax by the hands of an artisan;
people deck it with silver and gold;
they fasten it with hammer and nails
so that it cannot move.
Their idols are like scarecrows in a cucumber field,
and they cannot speak;
they have to be carried,
for they cannot walk.
Do not be afraid of them,
for they cannot do evil,
nor is it in them to do good. (Jeremiah 10:1-)
For most people in the modern world, idols are merely works of art. We are never tempted to worship them. Some art historians are dismayed that as Christians became dominant in the old Roman Empire, they destroyed the pagan temples and wrecked the images of the gods. While two thousand years later, it is easy to think only in terms of the destruction of art, for those who had turned from paganism to Christianity, idols held a power. They symbolized something evil and wrong. They oppressed the hearts and minds of countless human beings, blinding them to the truth. People had devoted themselves, their money, even their lives to things that were useless. They were a lie and a delusion.
Following the destruction of a totalitarian regime, whether the end of Nazi Germany, the fall of Communism, or the end of Saddam’s Iraq, the people freed from tyranny quickly destroyed the statues and images of the hated regime: statues of Stalin and Lenin were knocked down and dragged away; swastikas atop buildings in Berlin were dynamited. Saddam’s statue in the center of Baghdad was toppled by tanks. Two thousand years from now, some might be appalled at the destruction of art and culture, but for those doing the destruction, they were striking blows for freedom. For those who worshiped idols, the idols were not art. They were tyrants who had blinded their worshipers. Whatever oppresses you today, God has set you free from it through Christ. Your idols are nothing but objects made by men.