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The Rise of Idolatry

With a “congregation” of 22-26 million viewers each day, Oprah Winfrey has become one of the most influential spiritual leaders in America. Her followers will read whatever books she endorses, ponder her every word, and donate money to her causes. The Wall Street Journal coined the word Oprahfication to describe “public confession as a form of therapy.” Her early life was deeply influenced by the church. She read the Bible, attended a Baptist church and knew that God had for her a higher calling. No one could argue that many people have benefitted from her benevolence. But the beliefs that she now embraces and promotes to millions are eternally dangerous. The various “spiritual leaders” who frequent her show include Deepak Chopra, who teaches that an enlightened human consciousness can heal the body (based on Hindu); Marianne Williamson, whose New Age teachings reinterpret Christian doctrines; and most recently, Eckhart Tolle, whose book A New Earth is now an online class available on Oprah’s website so that everyone can find the “truth” that is already within. Tolle promotes the idea that “how spiritual you are has nothing to do with what you believe, but instead with your state of consciousness.”


Oprah has embraced the lie that all religions are equally valid paths to God. She said, “One of the biggest mistakes humans make is to believe there is only one way. Actually, there are many diverse paths leading to what you call God.” Sadly, Oprah’s influence upon American women is astonishing. There is no counting the many people who are right now being drawn away from the One True God and to a generic spirituality that feels good. The Bible makes one thing very clear: there is only one God, and He is jealous. Any path that does not go through the cross leads to destruction. Let us learn from the mistakes of others and boldly proclaim that Jesus is the only way, the only truth and the only life (John 14:6).


Whatever one receives if benevolence, peace, gifts or power are not worth the compromises needed to fellowship with (or endorse) those who practice idolatry. God could not have been clearer. If there was one thing that the Israelites were to understand, it was that YHWH alone is God. There is no other, and His divine jealousy requires exclusive devotion to Him alone.


The Lord demonstrated to Israel and Egypt that He alone is God when He struck Egypt with plagues that were directly connected to their gods. The Lord put this jealous exclusivity in stone when He gave the Law to Moses and the people of Israel. The Covenant of the Law was predicated upon the redemptive work of God on behalf of Israel, “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.” THEREFORE, the redeemed were—and are—to maintain an undivided devotion to Him. The First Commandment states, “You shall have no other gods before Me.” The second forbids the worship of any idol (Exodus 20:1-5).

God’s jealousy is a good thing!  Israel experienced the judgment of God when they got involved in Baal worship in Moab just before entering the Promised Land. High Priest Phinehas stopped the heinous acts but 24,000 still died as a result.

Israel began following after other gods after Joshua died. Their sin of apostasy inevitably led to other kinds of sin as well (Judges 8). King David understood well that the leader of God’s chosen people had a unique privilege and responsibility to keep the Law. His commission of Solomon included the admonition to be obedient to the Lord if he hoped to keep the throne. Sadly, Solomon did not heed the warnings of his father, and toward the end of his life he followed after the gods of his many foreign wives. This ignited the angry wrath of God.

God will always fulfill His word. He said He would take the kingdom from the king who failed to follow him, and so He did. The consequences of their idolatry can be seen from II Kings to Malachi. Let's stay faithful to God and avoid idolatry. That mistake would effect the church for many years. Have a great week!

You are loved.

Ray Reynolds, PhD

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