Our God Is a Rock
Coming into the small red-walled temple with green doorposts, I noticed the idol in the central place of worship was unlike any idol I saw during my first two weeks in Taiwan. He was similar in the sense that his face was green and ghastly and not human. But the differences were a stark contrast. First, he was in a standing position; most of the idols I had noticed during those two weeks in Taiwan were all seated. Second, he was wearing a red coat, red pants, and a red hat; most idols were wearing warrior’s clothing, flowing clothes, or perhaps not much clothing at all. Out of sheer curiosity, I asked the temple keeper, “What god is this?” Not many foreigners came into his temple. It was off the beaten path, down a small alley, no bigger than your living room, but it had caught my attention. “Oh, this god is the best god ever. If you ask him for anything, as long as you are good, you receive what you asked for. The Christian missionaries brought him to us over 100 years ago. His name is Santa Claus.” A stone statue of Santa Claus had now become a god to be manipulated for goodies.
In Deuteronomy 32, Moses declares that God’s name is “rock.” Deuteronomy 32:3-4 says, “I will proclaim the Lord’s name…Rock.” Of all the possible names to give God, of all the possible images to bring to mind when praising God, Moses chooses “rock.” But Moses is thinking more deeply than we are.
Moses proclaims that our Rock’s work is perfect, all his ways are just. He is a faithful God without bias. He is righteous and true (v. 4). Our Rock gave birth to the Israelites (v. 18), but the Israelites rebelled, abandoned, and scorned the Rock who had created them and saved them (v. 15). The Israelites enraged the Rock, because they sacrificed to demons, not to God (the Rock), but to gods they had not known before (vv. 16-17). Don’t miss this point: worshipping gods, statues, or idols is worshipping and sacrificing to demons! Is this not why Paul in 1 Corinthians 10:18-22 also says sacrifices to idols are actually offerings to demons? Paul must have been reading his OT! The Israelites had been worshipping rocks, that is, carved images made from rock. This is what Moses had in mind when he called God “the Rock.”
The Israelites provoked the Rock’s jealousy by worshipping what is not a god, worthless idols (v. 21), and yet even Israel’s enemies conceded that their own rock is not like the Rock (v. 31). Irony at its worst. The Israelites who had been created, birthed, and saved by the Rock were literally turning to worship rocks (worthless idols), and yet even the enemies of Israel conceded that their own rock was not the real Rock.
Our Rock asks, “Where are their ‘gods’, the ‘rock’ the [Israelites] found refuge in?...Let those ‘rocks’ rise up and help you and a be a shelter for you (v. 38). The question demands an answer. “See now that I alone am he; there is no God but me” (v. 29). There is no God but the Rock.
Any worship of idols is, on the surface level, just worshipping a rock. On a deeper level, it is worshipping a demon. Unless God opens the eyes of the heart to see that what one worships is a rock, they will not think of the obvious: “I’m bowing down to a rock.”
Rocks come in many shapes and sizes, and on that hot summer day in 1998 in Taiwan, the rock staring at me from across the room was an idol called Santa Claus. My eyes were opened that day, and the god of Santa Claus was not to be worshipped again in my life.
What shape and size is the rock that you are worshipping that receives your affections? God has so ordained that the church is a community, a means of grace, to spur us on, and one of those aspects is helping us to see the idols that get our affections. God alone is the Rock. He is jealous for our affections and will destroy those rocks in our lives that we worship.