When an Evangelical Christian friend of ours passed away from COVID, I pondered what would become of his soul. Without realizing he was propagating idolatry, our now deceased friend had actively evangelized to others doing his best to get people to believe in and accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior. By all accounts, he was a “godly” guy. Subsequently, curiosity led me to research what the Hebrew Bible had to say about idolatry and potential consequences for both the apostate Jew and misinformed Gentile that perceives and worship Jesus as God.
What Is Idolatry?
According to the Bible, idolatry is defined as worshiping others, or other deities, or objects as if they are God (Exodus 20:2-4, 34:17). It’s interesting that God or other Biblical authors acknowledge there are other deities, or other concepts believed to be deities (Exodus 15:11, 20:3-4; Psalm 96:5, 97:7, 135:5). In other words, the text acknowledges the fact that mankind struggles to focus on an invisible, infinite God and instead tends to fashion finite, visual being(s) and deem them God. Remember the golden calf incident?
Additionally, idolatry is likened to adultery and considered both an abomination and even identified as hating God (Exodus 34:15-16, Ezekiel 16:15-22; Psalm 81:9-16).
These passages, however, are directed towards ancient Israelites, which now are known as Jews.
Are Only Jews Prohibited from Worshiping Anything as God or All Humanity?
Just as God instructed Jews to not worship other gods early on in the Book of Exodus, God also gave the Egyptians in the same story the opportunity to repent from worshiping their plethora of false gods and to worship the One and Only True God instead. At one point, Pharoah repented and the LORD relented in the plague (Exodus 10:16-17). Unfortunately, Pharoah repeated old patterns and refused to let the Israelite people go to worship God. Through it all, however, God’s motive was to reveal Himself as the One True God to not just the Israelites, but the Egyptians as well. Consequently, many realized the gods they worshiped were false ones and chose to enjoin themselves with the Israelites and fled alongside them (Exodus 12:38). In other words, God’s mission and subsequent use of the plagues weren’t just to relieve and rescue the Israelites from oppression but was to also make His name and authority known to thousands so that they could intimately know God and how He defines covenant relationship with Him. Essentially, God removed them from bondage to a polytheistic culture so they could know the bond of Oneness. In light of this revelation, ponder the concept that Jesus’ statements of being one with the Father didn’t mean he is proclaiming himself as God or part of a godhead, rather Jesus conveyed the bond of covenant relationship with God- oneness. Hence, praying to God that others could also be one with God (John 17). If Jesus were saying he was God, then his prayer would mean he was praying others could also be God.
Another similar opportunity of oneness with God was presented to the Ninevites, who were Gentiles, in other words, not Jewish for Ninevah was a populous capital city in the Assyrian Empire. Commissioned by God to deliver this important message, Jonah reluctantly arrived to warn the aggressive Ninevites to repent from their many sins, presumably including idolatry or there would be dire consequences (Book of Jonah). Unlike Pharoah, the Ninevites repented and God’s grace was given. He delighted in forgiving these Gentiles (non-Jews) just as God would have the Egyptians. While dwelling on God’s grace towards the Ninevites, notice no human needed to die for their sins, no blood needed to be shed, and yet, God forgave them. Tragically, the Ninevites must have reverted to their pagan tendencies because later the prophet Nahum warned of God’s judgment specifically for their idolatry (Nahum 1:1,14).
Interestingly, passages foretelling the future reveal idolatry, or worshiping anything but the One and Only God, will be forever banished from all the Earth, meaning for both Jew and Gentile (Zechariah 13:2, 14:9,16-21). It should be noted in Zechariah 14:16-21, in the future, the nations that choose not to worship God in the way He instructed, specifically by coming to the temple for the Feast of Trumpets/Sukkot, will suffer consequences. It’s interesting because that is one of the three holy holidays God taught the Israelites they must celebrate by coming to the temple. He did not command that to everybody, just Jews, and yet, in the future, everybody must participate regardless if they are a Jew or of the nations (Exodus 23:14-17, 34:18-23; Deuteronomy 16:1, 9-10, 13, 16-17). All of which validates the Israelites, or Jews, are chosen to lead the nations to God’s teachings found in Torah, which is referred to as “light” (Isaiah 42:6, 49:6; Psalm 119:105-106; Proverbs 6:23).
How Are Jews to Handle Idolatry?
Not to intermarry with those of another faith (Deuteronomy 7:3, 20:16-18; 1 Kings 11:1-2; Ezra 9)
To divorce those of another faith (those who worship other gods) (Ezra 10)
To tear down, destroy, toss out, remove all evidence of idols in one’s territory (Exodus 34:13; Isaiah 27:9)
To continue to lead in love as they guide other Jews and non-Jews to Torah’s teachings, which is God’s teachings of what He loves and hates; moreover, the faithful Jew uses God’s Torah, which means “teaching”, to teach others what love is and isn’t.
What Are the Consequences of Idolatry, If Any, for Jews & Gentiles?
Below is a list of the specific consequences for Jews, but to rephrase in a modern-day reality, Jews that worship Jesus (or any other god):
Cursed (Jeremiah 17:5)
Makes Jews/Israel vulnerable to physical attacks such as war and disease (sent by God as a means to discipline the Jews – Judges 8; Psalm 81:9-17; historical and Biblical siege of the Northern Kingdom by Assyria for their idolatry as well as siege of Southern Kingdom by the Babylonian Empire for doing the same. Both events were warned by the prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah)
For the Gentile, the Hebrew Bible details similar consequences:
Early death or destruction (Nahum 1:13)
Will become like the idols they worship – mute, blind, deaf, lifeless, no breath, (spiritually) dead (Psalm 135:15-18)
Moreover, for both the Jew or Gentile, or in broader terms, all of humanity, it does the following:
Idols of one’s heart cannot be hidden from God (Psalm 44:21-22; Ezekiel 14:1-11)
Vexes God prompting rebuke (Deuteronomy 32:19-24)
Makes God jealous (Exodus 34:15; Isaiah 42:8; 48:11)
Makes God angry (Psalm 106:34-46)
Activates TRUE prophets to advise otherwise/warn (Judges 8:7-10; Hence, prophets like Isaiah, Jeremiah, Jonah, and Nahum warning Jews and Gentiles of such destructive choices)
Cursed (Jeremiah 17:5)
Activates severe consequences such as fire, plagues, war, aggressive beasts (Ezekiel 14:12-23- Notice the language in verse 13 “if a land”, not specifically, the land of Israel so any land that worships another god, similar to what the future prophecy Zechariah 14:16-21 conveyed)
In conclusion, while digging through these passages, it became grossly evident to me that idolatry causes God pain, severs any hope of oneness with God, and produces significant consequences as God enforces His boundaries of love. It is too late for our deceased Christian friend, but perhaps the most recent plague of COVID and its many variants along with these compelling Scriptures could invoke repentant hearts as we cast down our idols and indeed make our hands clean.
Download these Scriptures to study this important topic for yourself.
Having been exposed and apart of many Christian circles throughout my lifetime, one primary tenet of the Christian faith is that the New Testament is the inerrant word of God. Just review any church’s website under their “What We Believe” or “Statement of Faith” tab and you will inevitably find words like “inerrant” or “infallible” word of God being the 66 books of the combined “Old” and “New” Testaments. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, “inerrant” is defined as being “free from error”. Likewise, the Oxford dictionary defines it as “incapable of being wrong”.
Furthermore, Christianity often sites the famous verses found in 2 Timothy 3:16-17 as evidence Scripture, being presumed to be both the “Old” and “New” Testament, is inerrant. After all, if these writings thought to be inspired by God are not absolute truth, then one’s faith is fallacy.
One interesting oversight, however, when making such conclusions from 2 Timothy 3:16-17, is that most Christians overlook the previous verse 15, which clearly reminds the recipient, Timothy, as well as modern day readers, that Timothy had the Holy Scriptures since childhood, referring to the Hebrew Bible, also known as the Law and Prophets, or Tanakh, or what has since been labeled the “Old” Testament by Christianity. These letters penned by Paul (see 2 Timothy 1:1) and others were not regarded as “the Holy Scriptures”, but are merely commentary or one’s opinion about the Holy Scriptures, being the Tanakh. For those unaware, let me briefly define the “Tanakh” as it is more or less an acronym of TNK pronounced in Hebrew as “Tanakh”. The T is for Torah, the first five books of the Bible, the N is for Nevi’im, the prophetic manuscripts (i.e. Isaiah, Jeremiah, etc.), and the K is for Kethuvim, which are the Psalms, 1 and 2 Chronicles, Lamentations, Ezra, etc. Sometimes Tanakh is spelled Tenach, Tanach, Tenakh, or Tenak, but it all is referring to the Hebrew Bible.
Furthermore, throughout the “New” Testament, which I put in quotes to highlight how terms such as “New” and “Old” propagate the many errors of Replacement Theology, indeed has known errors and thus, cannot be the “inerrant word of God” as many have been led to believe. Below are some examples of the “inerrancy” (pun intended) found in the “New” and implied-improved Testament.
1. The author of the Book of Matthew, which has not been proven, but only speculated to be written by a Matthew, documents the genealogy of Jesus in Matthew 1:1-17. The author states Jesus comes from the lineage of Joseph, Mary’s husband, in verse 16. As a side note, how can this be if Jesus was miraculously conceived and has no genetic father? Furthermore, compare the genealogy of Jesus in Matthew’s version to Luke’s story in Luke 3:23-38. In verse 23, the author claims as does Matthew, that Jesus was from Joseph, a perplexing mysterious scandal for an alleged virgin birth, but moreover, the genealogy detailed here is far different from the one outlined in Matthew. So which is Jesus’ lineage and why do these unknown or unproven authors list not only varying genealogy, but claim Joseph is Jesus’ birthfather when Luke 1:34 and Matthew 1:18 contradict their own findings? Or if listing Jesus’ adoptive father, how can the non-birth father be counted as Jesus’ claim to the Davidic line as qualifying as a Messianic candidate? If Jesus is the perfect Son of God as Christians are taught, then shouldn’t his lineage be without error as well? Is it possible the authors were aware the ancient Jewish sages believed a Messiah would have to be a direct descendant of David, which is documented through the males (see Numbers 1, as an example), so concocted a lineage to make Jesus appear to be a viable candidate? And yet, the authors of Matthew and Luke did not get their stories straight before publishing. When attempting to research this discrepancy, the common response of Christians is, “I don’t know” or perhaps “one is defining Mary’s lineage and the other Joseph’s”. If one is of Mary, then it still is an error as the text specifically states the lineage is of Joseph in both Matthew and Luke.
2. In Luke 24:44-47, as one example, Jesus insisted the Hebrew Bible was all about him – even telling his listeners that “it is written” (in the law or prophets) that the Holy Scriptures predict the messiah will suffer and rise again in three days. Unfortunately, this is a lie. Nevertheless, assuming he did say this about himself, NOWHERE in the Hebrew Scriptures does it say a messiah will suffer, much less die and rise again on the third day AND nowhere does it say one must believe in the messiah in order to be saved from their sins or forgiven of their sins, and the Hebrew Scriptures also do NOT say that his name or a messiah’s name will be preached to all nations beginning in Jerusalem (or anywhere else for that matter). I encourage you, dear student of the Bible, to go research this. You will not find any of it – because it doesn’t exist. Again, a hugely critical error of the New Testament. Before you go on thinking Isaiah 53 talks about the suffering messiah, you will need to pay attention to more details and read it within context like you would any other chapter of any other book. Click this link to thoroughly study Isaiah 53.
“He said to them, ‘This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms. Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.‘ ” Luke 24:44-47 (NKJV)
3. Have you ever studied out and compared the many different versions of Jesus’ alleged resurrection? Sure, I know naïve Christians have been told the different accounts are just different perspectives of the unknown authors of the gospels, but in reality, when closely examining the alleged eye-witness accounts, you will find there are several details that contradict one another. That topic alone has made an intriguing article I encourage you to dive into this for yourself. All of which, begs the question, if the so-called witnesses of the resurrection cannot get their stories straight, can these accounts be trusted? How would any judge or jury discern what is truth if the witnesses relay the same overall outcome, but their varying stories contradict the details of the said event? When the timeline, order of discovery, characters involved, and or reasons for being at the event all differ, it certainly casts reasonable doubt. And if indeed Jesus is the Messiah, the Savior, the perfect Son of God, wouldn’t God make sure the accounts of Jesus were perfectly documented rather than be in error? Did you know in addition to historians and experts not actually knowing who the authors of the Gospels were, they do know the Gospels were written decades after Jesus’ lived and died, and even after the Book of Revelation? So the Gospels could easily have been written to support the ideologies of Paul and or any other “Apostle”. Did you know the first book of the “New” Testament was Paul’s letter to the Corinthian church he established based on an unusual spiritual experience? I will stop for now, but do your research. I suspect upon doing so, you will be alarmed and angry at what you will discover as was I.
4. Speaking of errors in the Gospels, were you aware that in Matthew 27:9, the author quotes Jeremiah the prophet as writing about the thirty pieces of silver, when in fact, that statement can be found not in Jeremiah, but Zechariah 11:12-13? Never mind the fact that Zechariah’s words are taken out of context in Matthew’s writing. Regardless, clearly the “New” Testament, more specifically, the Gospels, are not without error.
5. Scholars have proven the New Testament has many “interpolations”, meaning many phrases or verses were added in to support man-made church doctrine, but were not in the original manuscripts. For a brief sample, click here, but I encourage you to research this out more thoroughly.
6. In Acts 7:16, the author believed to be Paul’s Gentile pal, Luke, but not proven, wrote that the patriarchs of Israel were buried in “Shechem” when in actuality they (i.e. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and their wives, etc) were buried in Mamre, also known as Hebron, more specifically the cave of the field of Machpelah, according to Genesis 23:17-20 and 50:13. Shechem is yet another error in the alleged inerrant New Testament.
7. Also in the Book of Acts, when describing the Apostle Paul’s conversion experience or when he allegedly saw the resurrected Jesus in the sky, it is reported in Acts 9:7 that the men who journeyed with Paul heard a voice, but saw nothing. In Acts 22:9, however, Paul testifies of just the opposite: the men with him saw a light, but heard no voice, documenting yet again the Book of Acts cannot be the inerrant word of God.
8. As another example of errors within the New Testament, please review and compare the Book of Hebrews to other Scriptures found in the Tanakh. Compare Hebrews 8:9 to Jeremiah 31:32. Notice the unknown author of Hebrews, misquotes Jeremiah 31:32 by writing, “not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt; because they did not continue in My covenant, and I disregarded them, says the Lord..” (NKJV). Jeremiah 31:32 actually says, “not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the LORD.” (NKJV) As you can see, the author of Hebrews manipulated the text to make it seem like God has cast His people, the Jewish people, Israel, aside and now there are a new and improved people implying the church, which all is apart of the erroneous Replacement Theology doctrine. Clearly, this is not the inerrant word of God, but heresy and altering the Hebrew Bible to propel an agenda. Unfortunately, the author uses the same blatant manipulation of Scriptures a couple of chapters later in Hebrews 10:5. The author is attempting to convince the reader that Jesus is the ultimate sacrifice and sacrifices are no longer needed which contradicts Ezekiel 43-44 describing sacrifices in the World-To-Come/Messianic Era/New Jerusalem where the Torah goes out to the entire globe (see Isaiah 2:1-4; Isaiah 11; Micah 4; Zechariah 14:16+). Notice in Zechariah 14:16+ the nations must offer sacrifices in the Messianic Era if they want it to rain on their land (i.e. have crops and food), all of which is after the “Day of the LORD”. Please carefully review Hebrews 10:5, where the author misquotes Psalm 40:6-8 intentionally and dramatically changing the verbiage to make it seem like Jesus is the final sacrifice predicted in the Psalms. Compare Psalms 40:6-8 to Hebrews 10:5:
“Sacrifice and offering You did not desire; My ears You have opened. Burnt offering and sin offering You did not require. Then I said, ‘Behold, I come; in the scroll of the book it is written of me. I delight to do Your will, O my God, And Your law is within my heart.” Psalm 40:6-8 (NKJV)
“Therefore, when He came into the world, He said: ‘Sacrifice and offering You did not desire, But a body You have prepared for Me. In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin You had no pleasure. Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come – in the volume of the book it is written of Me- To do Your will, O God.” Hebrews 10:5-7 (NKJV)
Here we can see several errors. Not only did the author intentionally replace God’s word, which it is a sin to add or subtract from Scripture (Deuteronomy 4:2; 12:32/13:1; Jeremiah 26:2), by subtracting the text “My ears you have opened” and replaced it with “But a body You have prepared for Me..” in attempts to deceive the unsuspecting reader into thinking Jesus’ body was the final sacrifice, but in addition to this blatant alteration of God’s Scripture, the author of Hebrews, presumably Paul, removed “You did not require” and replaced it with “you had no pleasure” to further his agenda. As discussed in my article “Why Jesus Didn’t Die For Anyone’s Sins”, sin and trespass offerings can only transpire in the temple within Jerusalem, which no longer exists, nor existed at the time the psalm was penned; moreover, those offerings are designed to be a tangible lesson to learn God’s instructions of loving Him and others as they were exclusively for unintentional/accidental sins, not rebellion or intentional sin. When a temple is not present or should the offender not be in Jerusalem, sin and trespass offerings are not required for the remission of sins despite what Christian doctrines purport. We see in 1 Kings 8, King Solomon prays and declares that even when no temple is present or when people are not in the land of Israel, God will forgive those who repent and return to His Torah. In other words, all God has ever wanted was for people to hear His voice, being His instructions on how to love God and others throughout the Torah; hence, the psalmist praise of “my ears you have opened”. God eagerly forgives those who repent and return to His instructions. As Scripture reveals and repeats in numerous places, all God wants is those with circumcised hearts, willing to listen, trust, and obey (see 1 Kings 8, Psalm 50, 51, 103, 119, Proverbs 3, Isaiah 1:16-17, and many more!). As if all of these intentional and deceptive misquotes weren’t bad enough, the author of Hebrews also left off a key element validating God’s Torah by removing the phrase, “And Your law is within my heart.”
Furthermore, we see in a future era, sin and trespass offerings, as well as other sacrifices, and all of Torah, will resume in God’s presence once the final temple is erected (see Ezekiel 40:38-43; 43:4-46:24; Zechariah 14:16+; Isaiah 56:6-8; Isaiah 2:3).
These errors are clearly intentional as the author of Hebrews is leading the reader to believe 1) A sin blood sacrifices were required (for atonement), 2) God doesn’t want ongoing sacrifices, but just one final sacrifice being Jesus now and 3) by leaving off Torah is within my heart it leads the reader to believe God’s laws are done away with or no longer relevant, a myth the Church has propagated for centuries in attempts to distance themselves from anything remotely Jewish. The author of Hebrews goes on to repeat his grave sin by rewriting it for emphasis in verses 8-9 AND claiming God’s Torah, part of what Christians label “OLD” Testament is removed. Out with the old and in with the new Hebrews 10:9 claims; hence, the birth of Replacement Theology. However, Deuteronomy 13 warns us that anyone that comes along and says God’s law, His Torah, His instructions, His voice is done away with or steers others to not obey Torah is a false prophet and in dangerous error. This person or doctrine was sent as a test to see if you believe in God or man-made doctrines like Replacement Theology and the Book of Hebrews. Fascinating that the author could not even pen his name to this manuscript just as the alleged authors of the Gospels did not pen their names either.
All of this compelling evidence is not to say some spiritual concepts or truths cannot be gleaned from Jesus or the “New” Testament, just as they can be from any person or writings, but clearly, the writings are not without error and therefore, not the “inerrant word of God”. Rather, they ought to be compared to the Tanakh, the Holy Scriptures designed for instructions of righteousness making a person complete (2 Timothy 3:15-17). That much I can agree with Paul.