Bible Topics
in the Christian Library
"Who Is God?" Making God In OUR Image

Making The God Of MY Choice (1)

Isaiah 40:18-25

John L. Kachelman, Jr.


I. The "Spectre of the Brocken" is a phenomenon seen on a certain mountain in Germany. At dawn you can stand on the topmost ridge and behold a colossal shadowy spectre moving on the summits of the distant hills. The ancients saw this and concluded that it was a supernatural god. Fear captured their hearts and religious fervor offered sacrifices to this god who appeared only for a brief time in the early morning hours. In later years it was discovered that this spectre was in truth only the shadow of the one who stood on the summit. As the sun would rise, the person's shadow was projected upon the morning mists and it would move as the excited spectator would nervously move trying to gain a better viewpoint. This aptly illustrates how man's folly has ascribed "deity" to those things which are a mere reflection of himself. Such is the truth of idolatry! That which is ascribed to "God" is actually a mirrored reflection of self! The folly of idolatry is that many never see this Truth.

II. At the beginning of the 10 Commandments is the sin of idolatry.  This is the "sin of sins" for once begun man's understanding is forever befuddled; the Truth of God is polluted; all is lost! Idolatry remains man's greatest threat!

1. Modern man will not become an idolater in the sense of the pagan mythologies of the Greeks, Romans, and Norse. These bowed down to a material image crafted with hands from precious metals or sacred wood/rocks. Modern man is too far "advanced" for this.

2. Modern man's lure into idolatry is much more subtle and this is where it is much more deadly. This danger is succinctly stated: "The essence of idolatry is the entertainment of thoughts about God that are unworthy of Him. It begins in the mind ... The idolater simply imagines things about God and acts as if they were true" (A.W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy, 5).

3. Satan's evil scheme is not to get us to say there is no God but to say there is a DIFFERENT God than what the Bible teaches. This scheme begins in our minds (2 Co 10:5).

4. The success of this evil scheme is repeatedly found in Scripture and has subtly invaded our modern society. In fact, it is alarming to see just how successful Satan's scheme has been.

5. The idolater today is not one who bows down before some image, but is one who has mentally modified the God of the Scriptures so that He is now more attractive, more tolerant, more permissive, more loving, less denouncing, less damning, and less restrictive. Modern idolatry accepts biblical religion and the biblical God, BUT first modifies each to suit personal tastes. The result, a religion of convenience but no conviction; a god who is personal and up close but not the sovereign Lord; adherents who follow feelings rather than faith. In summary -- it is a religion, a god, and a group of adherents who are totally different from that which you read in the Bible! And it ALL results from idolatry!

III. Ex 5:2 presents a searching question for modern hearts. 

How do you answer? Just WHO is God? As your mind's eye looks at God, what is seen? Isaiah 40:18-25 -- Underscored is the power/majesty of God. The exclusiveness of the one, true God is clear and mankind has been informed of this great God since creation. The exalted position of God and the insignificance of mortals (v. 22-25) reveal that man is foolish when he tries to make anything comparable to God. Here is the divine attitude toward anyone who attempts to re-design the God of Scripture. One has characterized these verses as "withering sarcasm poured upon the infatuation of idol framers and worshipers" (W.E. Vine, Isaiah, 94).

Isaiah's repeated question emphasizes the position of God -- God can be compared with nothing! Here is the heart of genuine faith. God is incomparable. In our thoughts of God we must be careful to keep in mind this infinite separation. To re-make God in our minds so He becomes something that bridges this infinity is idolatry; to break this absolute distinction is blasphemy (Is 55:8-9).

Our series is a sobering study. It forces us to ask/answer an uncomfortable query -- Am I guilty of idolatry?


The traits of idolatry.

A survey of Scripture reveals that idolatry is characterized by the following traits. Look at these traits. Observe how they characterize those who bow down to graven images but also those who re-design God in their mind.

A. The Supernatural is recognized.

The existence of God is not denied. In fact there is a willing confession that mortals are dependent upon a supernatural force that is beyond them (cf Ro 1:21; Ex 32:4b; 2 Ti 3:1-5; 1 Ki 20:23). The admission of the supernatural is true of our modern society. God is not denied, just re-defined to be something that is totally different than in Scriptures.

B. The biblical "God" is re-designed.

Cf Ps 81:9; Is 43:12 -- "strange" comes from the root which means "to turn aside from." The basic thought that is suggested is that of non-acquaintance; non-relatedness. One has taken the basic idea of something and in a process has "turned aside" from the true meaning and fashioned something totally different!

C. It is selfish.

Those who practice idolatry are motivated by selfish interests. They reject the God of Scripture because He does not interest their selfish interests. In thus turning away they fashion a "god" which can co-exist with their selfishness (cf Amos 7:10-17; 3 Jn 9).

D. It is sincere.

This is ironic because of the involvement of selfishness. This "sincerity" is not truthful but a delusion (cf 2 Ths 2:10b-11). Ignorant of the prodding of selfishness, the idolaters perform their religion in sincerity but in opposition to God (cf Mt 7:21-23; 1 Ki 18:28). This trait is readily seen in our day -- "sincerity" seems to be the only criterion by which one's religious beliefs/practices are judged. If one is "sincere" then even the worst practices are allowed for "them." However, the God of Scripture does not require only sincerity (cf 1 Ki 13:21).

E. The Truth of God is changed.

This is consequential to re-defining God. The only way the biblical God can be re-fashioned is by altering or ignoring the biblical Truth about Him (cf Ro 1:25; 2 Ti 2:17-18; 3:8; 4:3,4; Jere 23:16). This aspect of idolatry is clearly seen in our modern day. Many today say there is NO truth that truth is only real in the individual. Therefore "truth" about the biblical God is only "individual." What may be "true" to one is false to others. One's concept of God is thus built upon an ever-changing foundation (cf Mal 3:6).

F. Perplexity/Inconsistency marks their practices/ beliefs.

Because they are not following Truth, they will constantly change beliefs. This will lead them to be confronted with the inconsistencies in their belief system. They will not be able to "prove" all things; they are unable to "test" teachings in an objective manner. When asked to give answers to religious beliefs, they will be confused (cf Jere 23:19). This trait is found in Psalm 97:7. The term "confounded" (KJV) or "ashamed" (NASB) come from the Hebrew word BOSH. This term means "to be ashamed; put to shame; disappointed." The primary meaning is "to fall into disgrace through failure, either of self or of an object of trust." "Involved here are all the nuances of confusion, disillusionment, humiliation, and brokenness ... The prophets normally use the word with this sense, promising Israel that unless she repents of her ways and turns from her idolatrous ways, she will certainly experience the shame of defeat and exile ... Intimately associated ... is the question of trust. If Israel seeks to insure her own glory by refusing to trust in God but rather trusts in idols (Is 1:29), she will not get glory, but shame and disgrace" (Theological Wordbook Of The Old Testament, 222-223). 

Modern idolaters show this trait. When asked about beliefs they either get upset for being asked or try to explain with irrational feelings instead of confident facts. Their departure from the biblical God brings them to shame. Ultimately they become upset because they are asked to give a reason. They prefer to be left alone with their idolatry, never confronted (cf 1 Pt 3:15).

G. Quick identification.

Those who reject the biblical concept of God can be quickly identified by those who use the Scriptures (2 Ti 3:8-9). There is a clear and unquestioned difference because of one's belief about God (cf 1 Ki 22:7).

H. Stubbornness restricts their religion.

The only reason one rejects the biblical concept of God is to follow self. When we refuse to crucify self (Lk 9:23) we will submit to our selfish desires. This selfishness soon re-designs God so that one feels s/he has divine approval (1 Sa 15:23; Jere 23:17; Lv 10:1-3). The selfish person looks at the biblical teaching regarding God but he does not like what he sees. He then whittles upon the biblical concept until a more appealing "god" is found. This stubbornness fuels the individualism that feeds idolatry. Modern man seeks to find God in "his own way; by his own experience; with his personal meaning." When one is told that God is not individually tailored to personal tastes, the stubborn heart balks (cf Ac 26:14)!


I. Lev 19:4 -- It is tempting to construct a "god" that fits my personal

tastes; that is comfortable for my lifestyle. This temptation has swayed mankind ever since Eden, but it is false and brings damnation. It is rebuked with clarity by God's simple statement, "I AM THE LORD YOUR GOD." "I am" refers to His eternal presence; His never-ending existence. He does not change. The Truth regarding Him is never altered. Fashions will constantly change; color schemes will come and go; man's concepts will always be fluid, but not so the God of the Bible. 

II. How do you view "God"?

Someone once said to me, "That's my grandmother's god; the god of the past generation. That picture just doesn't work for me -- I need something more." And so he constructed a "god" of his choice and individual tastes; one who was non-judgmental, non-threatening, non-restrictive but all-inclusive -- it was a comfortable god. But it was not the God of the Scriptures. He worshiped his god; served his god; gave money to his god, and, prayed to his god. But it was not the God of the Scriptures. On the Judgment Day he will bow before the God of the Scriptures and profess to have served, worshiped, and honored the only God but he will hear a startling statement -- "Depart, I NEVER knew you!" (Mt 7:21-23). What a great tragedy all because he practiced idolatry (cf Lv 26:30).

III. How do you view God? (Is 40:17-25). Is it a negotiable portrait? 

Is it crafted to personal tastes? Is it according to the Truth of the Scriptures? We may not like certain aspects of God presented in the Scriptures. We may not like the emphasis upon God's rules, laws, and commands. We may not like the fact that the God of Scripture is the Sovereign and thus has a right to demand that we do some things and not do other things.

According to Scripture. It does not matter what you/I like or dislike about God. God is and He will not change. He is the "great I AM." All we can do is accept Him as He is and obey His will (1 Jn 5:21). No other choice!

The reality is that modern man has not accepted the simple description of God in the Scriptures. Modern minds have crafted a pantheon of gods. The members of this group are popular in the lives of modern men. Sadly, some Believers have re-designed the biblical God to occupy a position in this group. Our next lesson will begin examining some of the more popular "gods" who have been re-designed.

Copyright 1999 by John L. Kachelman, Jr. may be reproducted for non-commercial purposes at no cost to others.

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