Throughout history, the people of God have abandoned the Lord for idols. But why? Why would people who have experienced the grace of God turn to idols?
Part of the answer can be seen in the response of the rebellious men of Judah to the prophet Jeremiah's warning to them. They told him, "As for the word that you have spoken to us in the name of the LORD, we will not listen to you. But we will do everything that we have vowed, make offerings to the queen of heaven and pour out drink offerings to her, as we did, both we and our fathers, our kings and our officials, in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem. For then we had plenty of food, and prospered, and saw no disaster. But since we left off making offerings to the queen of heaven and pouring out drink offerings to her, we have lacked everything and have been consumed by the sword and by famine" (Jeremiah 44:16-18).
The ancient Jewish people refused to turn from idolatry back to the Lord, because at some point in their history, they had experienced comfort and prosperity in their idolatry. They had noticed the apparent success of their pagan neighbors. When times had become tough, they had decided to imitate their successful pagan neighbors. After all, if idolatry had worked for their neighbors, why would it not work for them?
Pragmatism, unbelief, greed, and envy combined to lead God's people away from their Savior. Unfortunately, it did not end well for them.
Since modern Christians often face a similar combination of temptations, we remain vulnerable to falling into idolatry, too.
In order to fight it successfully, we must be diligent in checking our motives, always remembering the apostle Paul's warning that "covetousness...is idolatry" (Colossians 3:5). If we can avoid envy, greed, and doubt in God, we can protect ourselves against the temptations of idolatry.
"Little children, keep yourselves from idols" (1 John 5:21).