And God spake all these words, saying, I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.
The Israelites lived in a pagan society and were constantly being pulled away by strange gods or deities. God gave to them the Ten Commandments and commanded them to have no other gods before Him. An idol or idols was anything worshiped outwardly such as: statues, pictures, carvings or anything representing a god or gods. Bowing down to any image or using any aid to replace God was not acceptable worship and is still unacceptable worship today.
Idolatry can appear in the worship of a man/woman: a pastor, a Sunday school teacher, a school teacher, a movie star, an athlete, or even a family member. Christ said in Matthew 10:37, “He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” We are to love Christ more than any person we may have a deep affection for and we are to love Christ more than we love ourselves. Anything other than true worship and commitment to Christ is idolatry.
Sometimes we worship the true God, but in our own way, or on our own terms––missing the whole point of worship. If we are not worshipping God in the manner He prescribes, then we are worshipping Him in an unacceptable way. I Samuel 13:12b-14 says, I (King Saul) forced myself therefore, and offered a burnt offering. And Samuel said to Saul, Thou hast done foolishly: thou hast not kept the commandment of the LORD thy God, which he commanded thee: for now would the LORD have established thy kingdom upon Israel for ever. But now thy kingdom shall not continue: the LORD hath sought him a man after his own heart, and the LORD hath commanded him to be captain over his people, because thou hast not kept that which the LORD commanded thee. There is only One who is both Priest and King and King Saul was not a priest. King Saul became impatient in waiting for Samuel to come and worship God and in his impatiences, he made sacrifices (worship) unto God in his own way, thinking that was good enough.
Not only do people worship the true and living God in their own way and on their own terms, but they worship God half-heartedly with a wrong attitude. Mark 7:5b says, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. God told the Israelites in Amos 5:21-27 that they have come to worship Him but He hates and despises their feasts, and takes no delight in their solemn assemblies. Even though they offered Him their burnt offerings and grain offerings, He would not accept them; or the peace offerings of their fattened animals. He didn’t want to look upon them and told them to take away the noise of their songs and the melody of their harps––He wouldn’t listen. Unacceptable worship is rejected by God and has been since the beginning when Cain brought the first sacrifice before Him.
Thought: To truly worship God, the worshipper must be born again, regenerated by the Spirit of God. Jesus said in John 4:23-24, But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers (Christians) shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. If you are not worshipping God on His terms, with a right attitude in spirit and in truth, then your worship is unacceptable and rejected by God. Worship God, my friend, with a pure heart, clean hands and an obedient spirit bringing glory to God which is acceptable in His sight.
Who shall ascend into the hill of the LORD? or who shall stand in his holy place? He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully. He shall receive the blessing from the LORD, and righteousness from the God of his salvation. This is the generation of them that seek him, that seek thy face, O Jacob. Selah (Psalm 24:3-6).