I am the LORD: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images. Isaiah 42:8
Today, many human beings scoff and laugh when they read about their human ancestors who worshiped idols or statues as their gods. But they have no reason to feel superior because, today, despite all our scientific knowledge, people still continue to worship idols. The only difference is that these idols are more subtle and difficult to detect.
For example, some people worship science and scientists, believe what scientists say as gospel truth and live by what they teach. It does not occur to them that, not too long ago, scientists believed the earth was flat, the sun revolved around the earth or atoms were the smallest particles in the universe. Therefore, we should not be quick to live by what scientists say because science is continually evolving and changing.
Others of us worship movie stars, singers, athletes or politicians and use them as models for our behavior. But, sooner or later, these heroes show their true colors as flawed human beings and our illusions are shattered.
Still others of us worship things, money, drugs or sex because we falsely believe that by hoarding we will feel more secure or by philandering and using drugs, we will feel better. No, drugs, sex, money and things cannot save us when we leave this realm and return into the spiritual world.
Finally, others of us place all our trust in our spiritual minister, priest, preacher, rabbi or spiritual guru. And, sooner or later, we discover that these idols are only sinful human beings like ourselves; they are also prone to lust, greed and anger.
Who should we then trust or worship? Perhaps, we should try to discover the center of stability in the universe. We should search for the only being whose existence does not depend on any other source, the only being that does not change.
Only God (Infinite Being) is self-existent. Thus, when all things will have changed or even disintegrated, God will still be in the physical as well as in the spiritual world; He is omnipresent. When all rulers, kings and dictators will have perished, God will still be King of the universe or omnipotent. When all scientific theories will have been disproved, Divine Truth will still be here because God is omniscient. And, when all our friends and family will betray and no longer love us, God will continue to love us infinitely and eternally because He is Love itself.
The sons of Israel were forbidden to make idols, graven images, and forms or figures of anything in the heavens, on the earth, or in the waters, because the ancient churches which were before the Israelitish Church were representative churches, also because the sons of Jacob were wholly external men, and external men at that time, when all worship was representative, were prone to idolatries, thus to the worship of such things as appeared before their eyes. But as the ancient churches were representative churches, the men of those churches made to themselves graven images and forms of various things which represented and thence signified things heavenly; and the ancients took delight in these on account of their signification, for when they looked upon them they were reminded of the heavenly things they represented; and as these belonged to their religion, therefore they worshiped the images. This is why they had groves and high places, and also sculptured, molten, and painted figures, which were set up either in groves or upon mountains, or in temples, or in their houses.
So in Egypt, where the science of representations, which is the same as the science of correspondences, flourished, there were images, idols, and graven images, as also hieroglyphics; and other nations had the like. But when the men of those churches from being internal became external, then the celestial and spiritual things which were represented and thence signified remained as traditions with their priests and wise men, who were called magi and diviners; consequently the common people, because of the religious principle which their fathers saw in these things, began to worship them and to call them their gods. Now as the sons of Jacob were more external men than the others, and thence more prone to idolatries and also to magic, they were strictly forbidden to make to themselves graven images, images and figures of the likeness of anything existing in the heavens, on the earth, or in the sea, because all things that are in the world are representative, as flying things, beasts, fishes, and creeping things, for so far as they worshiped these idolatrously, so far they did not acknowledge Jehovah. And yet, since the church was representative with them also, the tabernacle was built, in which were placed the chief representatives of heavenly things, as the table on which were the loaves, the golden altar on which incense was offered, the lampstand with the lamps, the ark with the mercy-seat. and the cherubim above it, and the altar not far from the door of the tabernacle, on which was the sacred fire; and afterwards the temple was built, in which also all things were representative, as the painting therein, the lavers outside of it, the brazen sea under which were the oxen supporting it, likewise the pillars and porticos, with the vessels of gold, all of which they were permitted to worship as holy, provided they acknowledged the tabernacle, and afterwards the temple, as the dwelling-place of Jehovah. This was granted them to prevent their turning aside to idolatry and magic, which then existed with various nations in Asia; as Egypt, Syria, Assyria, Babylon, Tyre and Sidon, Arabia, Ethiopia, Mesopotamia, and especially in and about the land of Canaan. [Emanuel Swedenborg [AE 827]