Idolatry: The Secret Sin of the Heart
One of the things that has really helped me understand the power of idolatry in our own time and place is, strange to say, the plagues in the book of Exodus. One of the things that was amazing for me to discover is that all of the plagues in Exodus relate to gods that the Egyptians worshiped.
Just to give one example: the first plague was blood in the Nile River. The Nile was everything to the Egyptians. It was the source of their economy—it was like what Wall Street is for America’s economy. One of the things that God was showing—and Exodus is explicit about this in a few places—was His glory over the Egyptians and their gods.
In the story of Exodus you see God not just gaining a victory over people like Pharaoh, who had set himself over and against God and God’s authority, but actually over all the things the Egyptians worshiped.
It’s a little scary to think about, but I think that’s a lesson for our own time and place. All of the things that we worship—power, money, sex, whatever idolatries we have in our own time and place—all of those idols are going to be defeated.
Ultimately, all of those idols are going to let us down, they are going to disappoint us, and they are only going to be a source of frustration. This is actually good news, because God doesn’t want us to worship those things; He wants us to worship Him alone.
Philip Graham Ryken (DPhil, University of Oxford) is the eighth president of Wheaton College. He preached at Philadelphia’s Tenth Presbyterian Church from 1995 until his appointment at Wheaton in 2010. Ryken has published more than 50 books, including When Trouble Comes and expository commentaries on Exodus, Ecclesiastes, and Jeremiah. He serves as a board member for the Council of Christian Colleges and Universities, the Lausanne Movement, and the National Association of Evangelicals.