02: The Idol – Thought Questions

Several teachers at an African secondary school were visiting one afternoon when one of them picked a stone carving out of his pocket and handed it around.

“This is an idol,” he said. “My yard boy gave it to me. He thinks this piece of rock has a lot of power.”

The head missionary in charge of the school came to his feet. “Give it to me,” he said.

The teacher handed it over, and the head missionary threw it as hard as he could into an open stream that was surging by. There was a gasp as the object hit the surface and disappeared.

“Why did you do that?” the teacher said.

“I’ve had too many reports of missionaries taking these sacred objects back home with them to show around and ending up dying or suffering from a fierce disease or injuries from a major accident.”

“How could that be?” The teacher asked.

“When these idols are formed, they immediately become transformed into a spirit, a deity, in the minds of the villagers. They are given to the ruler of the earth, the one we call Satan.”

“But my yard boy said it would protect me and keep me from getting sick.”

“Ha!” said the head missionary. “Don’t make me warn you again. Stay away from anything that has been cursed by the power of the evil one.”


1.     Key question: Who is the Lord? When was the last time you prayed? Were you praying to someone you knew? Or to someone you hoped would find you and rescue you from sin? How well do you know the devil? How popular is devil worship in 2011? Or has that practice been eliminated? You probably have a friend who says, “I don’t need the church.” Or “God hears me whether I worship Him at home or in the church.” Or “Church goers spend half the sermon time sound asleep. I can sleep better at home.” What gives you confidence that the God you worship is the God of all and that He’s worth worshipping in a special place at a certain time?

2.     The bush burned. Have you ever lit a fire and watched the flames swoop up and destroy what was close by? Or left the stove burner on until smoke was pouring from the stovetop? Have you ever seen a
forest fire rip through the trees, skimming off the top portion and roaring
onward? Do you suppose Moses ever saw destructive fires like the one described in Genesis 15 in his work as a herdsman? How do you think he felt when he saw a big bush on fire but not burning up? The Bible doesn’t tell us, but we can wonder if Moses “knew” it was God before he heard the voice speaking to him. When he did hear the words of God, how did Moses respond? Did God sense a spirit of reluctance by Moses to His invitation to deliver Israel from its captors? How did He seek to allay his fears? Have you ever felt that God placed more responsibility on your shoulders than you can handle? What should we do when we feel overwhelmed by God’s desired for us?

3.     Stranger and stranger. A bush catches fire but does not burn. Moses watches snakes appear from nowhere, sees leprosy appear and then disappear. Why is God giving Moses such a dramatic picture of His power? And what is Moses’ response to God’s invitation to work with divine power to let His people go? Are you a person who eagerly waves your hand when someone asks for a volunteer to do something for your church’s outreach program? Or do you hold back and say, “I’m sure someone else can do better than I?” Why did God choose to work through a human being to achieve victory over tyranny by the Israelites? Couldn’t He have done it by Himself? Maybe better?

4.     The first Passover. God carefully explains to His desert children how to carry out the details of the sacrifice. Would you say that the concept of the value of the sacrifice of the firstborn was brought “home” eloquently? How? What about the role of blood in the forgiveness of sin? Why was that important to them and to us today? If God protected the firstborn among the Israelites when they obeyed God in establishing the temple sacrifice, why couldn’t Jesus also have been protected from death because of our sins? Does the blood in the sacrifices of the Old Testament trouble you? Should it?

5.     Thunder from Sinai. Have you ever wished you could have heard the voice of God speaking the commandments one by one? Have you ever imagined the real voice of Jesus playing a role in the events of the Second Coming? What does the first commandment tell us about the God that we worship? Why does God demand a role of exclusivity with us? The lesson harks forward to the story of Aaron and the golden calf. Can you explain this total apostasy in view of the equally total rescue so recently enacted by God for His flock of people? How close can people in God’s church be to apostasy before they leave our presence? Can we know which of our fellow worshippers truly worships God “in spirit and in truth?” How? Should that be our mission­ to discern those who believe in God and only in God from those who are caught in the vale of confusion? If not, what is our primary work today?

6.     The glory of riches. Do you think the people of Israel sacrificed gold and silver ornaments they brought with them from Egypt to make the golden calf? If so, why did they still have a good supply that God asked them to remove? What did the removal of the ornaments (jewelry) symbolize? Have you ever known someone who refrained from wearing jewelry because of the example of these people of God at that time? If you are a woman and buy yourself a lovely  evening gown, have your hair done at the best beauty shop in town, wear lovely netted stockings and fancy five-inch shoes embedded with gold and silver, and layers and layers of golden strands and beautiful precious stones on your body­, is it really going to be easy for you to fall on your knees and worship God and Him alone? Does it really matter to God how we dress before we go to church to worship Him? Would He like it better if we showed up in scruffy jeans and a fluorescent green and pink top layered with mud and dirt from a scuffle on our way into the church and several pounds of lead jewelry, some of it attached to our nose, mouth, shoulders, eyebrows and forehead?

7.     Reverence. Do children run about at random in your church? Is there a family with a couple of youngsters who cry all throughout the service without being taken out? Do teenagers slump in deep conversation in the balcony or at the back of the sanctuary or on one side? Do most people fall asleep and stay asleep throughout the sermon? Is the music loud and boisterous? What are you going to do about it? Can a person experience a worship spirit when surroundings are not ideal? Can you show reverence to your heavenly Father whether or not others do so?

May God be near to you today.

Joyce Griffith



02: The Idol – Thought Questions — 15 Comments

  1. Excellent.Gives me as a pastor a chance to reflect on some of the things that happen in my three congregations.

  2. some of the things are happening to us in our daily living,especialy when we are at church what should we do with such kind of things because at some point it irritats seeing someone on facebook or even answering the phone while in service not even concetrating,i think poeple should value the presents of the holy spirit while in church espcially.thank yu

  3. Thank you Sister Joyce Griffith for these sound thought provoking questions and scenarios dealing with "Idol worship". I really appreciated the mixture of bible history along with current issues/scenarios that pertain to us as a church in today's society. These are vital points that I hope our Sabbath School leader/teachers will use as they teach this lesson this coming Sabbath.
    I did not truly understand the meaning of worship until i started doing the Sabbath school lesson along with the various view points given online (ssnet.org) which helps to facilitate a more clearer understanding and outline of what the lesson is trying to convey to us today.
    May the Lord continue to abundantly bless you and others in every way who take the time to submit additional thoughts that help to outline and explain each daily lesson contained in the Sabbath School. I also pray that the Lord will use you to enlighten us with more clearer understanding by providing us with scenarios that pertain to the church at large today.

  4. Surely some thought provoking questions..may we each stay connected to God and ..resist the devil...it's hard but God has promised us the strength...

  5. Yes, and sometimes our idols can be very subtle and hard to identify especially when the enemy is ourselves.
    As for the crowd at Sinai, they chose an external idol in the form of a calf. I could be wrong but it is my understanding that what they chose to worship was Baal, the grossest, most cruel of the heathen gods which says a lot about what they really desired. That could also be why "the people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play" which in all likelihood was more like drunken revelry including all the sensual lusts that usually attended pagan worship.
    More than that I would like to extend this whole idea quite a bit further. It seems to me that we have an insidious creep into the world in many of our worship services, especially in the larger churches that are in areas of higher education.
    It has bothered me for some time that many, if not most, of our colleges and universities and even our academies have their commencement exercises during the hours of worship on Sabbath. Normally there is absolutely nothing wrong in those programs but on Sabbath we should be lifting up and praising the Creator of the universe rather than our own pathetic accomplishments. I see these exercises in pride with all the doctors of philosophy parading themselves before the congregation in a way that reminds me of the Pharasees standing on street corners with their long prayers (Mat 6:2-5; Mat 23:14). Those men during the time of Christ dressed to be praised and adorned by people (Lk 20:46) rather than God.
    Furthermore in many of the worship services that I have seen personal pride takes the place of humility and those services resemble the opera or some other form of entertainment rather than a realization that they are in the presence of God. I have been in some of these theatrical presentations that were very entertaining and when it was all over and I had exited the church I said to myself, "Wow, that was a great service, only I don't remember what the sermon was about - was there a sermon?"
    I wish that we as God's people would be more sensitive to these kinds of things and make a commitment to correct anything that robs God of the praise and glory that are His and His alone. Our worship services should be about our relationship to the one who is everything, the only one through whom we have life and have it more abundantly (John 10:10).

  6. I have really appreciated this week's lesson. As I look around my church each Sabbath morning, my heart is saddened. There is very little reverence. I am going to make it my mission to set an example to others around me every Sabbath as I reverently bow my head in silent prayer immediately upon entering the sanctuary. I will refrain from idol conversation. Maybe if enough of us display this reverence, others will follow. My constant prayer is that God will prepare my heart each Sabbath to receive the Holy Spirit, and that same Spirit will fill my church sanctuary.

  7. can i say that too much of knowledge give rise to pride? But it doesnt mean we should nt read our bibles,am in a place full of people(students) who have read lots of spiritual books that they have become so proud they teach others because they want to show not for the gospel(not a judgement but a true observation), am encouraged by the great comments and i pray God to help us not to fall.

  8. These are very good questions to ponder. Often we dwell on the obvious, smoking, drinking, meat eating and the like, while we ignore the very things that prevent us from worship like our inner thoughts while we are in church. The fact that one wears modest clothes, a big smile, hugs everybody in church and seems to be a nice person does not make them better than the person who shows up a bit rugged. As a church, we have to know that while the outside appearance does please man, God still judges us by our motives.

    As for children running around the church and teenagers and sometimes adults texting in church, as the Bible demands, we who are faithful should restore these folks and make it clear that church should be a place of reverence.

    • While the inanimate objects from which idols are made are nothing, those who have had an encounter with the occult know that that is forbidden ground, nothing to be trifled with. We can/must rebuke him and his object in Jesus' name, but not play with things dedicate to Satan.

      That Satan has power is not to be questioned by any Bible believing Christian; but we can't fear his power because He that is in us is greater. We must not, however, presumptuously venture onto forbidden ground. I will not put my hand in the mouth of a lion to test God's ability to protect me.

  9. I was asked at the last minute to teach today's lesson to our class due to a medical emergency that kept our regular teacher from coming to class. When you are thrust into a position of leadership without preparation you sense your utter weakness and need for God to help you. Seeing Moses and his initial reluctance to lead, followed by his dependance on God and his growth in his relationship with God, gives us hope and confidence that we too can answer the simple things that God asks us to do, trusting that He will supply the words and the power to proclaim His truth through us. May this lesson bring us back to the heart of worship and may we know Him better as a result of worshipping Him in a manner that is most acceptable to Him.

  10. Present truth!This is not for non SDA'S but for me & you !We tend to shovel these truths to other churches,The Lord is talking to us!In our exodus we are to remember who we are,where we are & where we will be?It looks simple to judge Israelites as very sortish but when God penetrates our hearts we find ourselves being remined "Do not have other gods,This be your gods,I am the one who died for you,took you out for sin,Remove your shoes for you are standing on Holy ground.Despite prophecy fulfilment in a very astounding manner we forget & have other gods.May the Lord help us !

  11. No, Inge, I didn't intend to say "idol conversation," but it does fit in some circumstances. There are people who always have something to say about everything, whether in person-to-person conversation or online. Even harder to tolerate is the person who says the same thing, harps on the same theme, uses similar words. I think these people may be making conversation an idol.

  12. shoes are symbol of lowliness, accumulates dust and dirt. we may be having such shoes in our thoughts and lives. if we are to stand in front of the Holy one, we need to take off those filthy shoes in whatever form we possess.


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