Idolatry: The Worship of Nothing

Michael Beck

“… We know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none other God but one.” (1 Corinthians 8:4)

Idolatry is the worship of nothing. It is bowing down to and serving some desire that when fulfilled will leave us empty once again. Jeremiah likened the worship of idols to trying to fill a broken cistern. “For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.” (Jer. 2:13) In the end, what do you have? Nothing. What are you? Empty.

In scripture, “vanities” is another name for idols. (Dt. 32:21; 1 Kings 16:23,26; Jer. 8:19; 14:22; Acts 14:15) Vanity means nothingness, emptiness, meaninglessness. God summed up what becomes of those who pursue idols: “they followed vanity, and became vain” (2 Kings 17:15) Paul equates idolatry with covetousness (Col. 3:5); and deems the covetous man an idolater (Eph. 5:5). What does all our zealous pursuit for one earthly prize or another ultimately get us? “Vanity of vanity … all is vanity.” (Eccl. 1:2)

No matter how much we have built up some desired destination in our mind, believing we will be full and satisfied when our dream becomes a reality, when we get “there” we discover that we are still wanting. “Hell and destruction are never full; so the eyes of man are never satisfied.” (Prov. 27:20)

Jesus is not a “nothing.” He is a Person worthy of worship. He is Someone, and He is Everything we need. When He is our Shepherd, we do not want. (Ps. 23:1) The living water He gives us to drink doesn’t leave us high and dry. “But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.” (John 4:14)

Why chase after the wind, why remain dissatisfied when you can drink from the Fountain of Living Waters? Why worship nothing? Why not worship and know Jesus Christ and be filled with all the Fullness of the one true and living God?

“… Sirs, why do ye these things? We also are men of like passions with you, and preach unto you that ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God, which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein” (Acts 14:15)

Michael Beck is a pastor in the Dallas, TX area and the main author on Signpost. Receive a daily devotional he publishes every morning via email.