The Ark of God, Israel’s treasured possession, sits ensconced in the Philistine temple of Dagon. The Philistines, longtime enemies of Israel, have captured this prize of the Israelites in a recent battle. Upon returning to Ashdod, they place their offering of plunder before Dagon in his pagan temple.

“When the people of Ashdod rose early the next day, there was Dagon, fallen on his face on the ground before the ark of the Lord!” – 1 Samuel 5:3

God promised His holy presence to be with His chosen people. His cloud of power and presence would rest atop the ark enthroned between the cherubim of gold to assure the people. The Philistines know the ark is sacred to the Israelites… yet they assume this Jehovah God to be no more powerful than their many gods.

Dagon, a mere god of stone, is the object of worship for the Philistines. Inanimate stone… without life… without breath… has become god to these idolaters. The Philistines have misplaced their love. Carved and fashioned by human hands, Dagon can neither save nor be saved. He is powerless.

Yet no false god can stand against the Almighty One. The God of Creation reigns in absolute power over all He has created. Dagon is cast down before the One True God. The idol lies face down before the ark as if in worship before Jehovah.

“They took Dagon and put him back in his place. But the following morning when they rose, there was Dagon, fallen on his face on the ground before the ark of the Lord! His head and hands had been broken off and were lying on the threshold; only his body remained.”  1 Samuel 5:4

When Dagon again falls before the ark, the Philistines realize this is no accident. This time Dagon’s head and hands are broken off, showing he has neither wisdom nor strength to save himself or his followers. The same God who rolled away the stone from the tomb of Jesus casts down this false god of stone in Dagon’s own temple.

“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall have no other gods before Me. You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in the heavens above, on the earth below, or in the waters beneath. You shall not bow down to them or worship them.” – Exodus 20:2-5

The first commandment God gives to Moses on Mount Sinai is to remember that He alone is the Lord Almighty. He alone is to be worshiped by His people. Their love is not to be misplaced. God commands His people to keep from worshiping idols, for He knows they will be tempted by the false gods and evil practices of neighboring pagan nations.

This first commandment is of paramount importance to all believers today. God is the only One deserving of our reverence, devotion and praise. For He is the Creator. We are to worship Him alone, not anything or anyone in His created world.

Where is our loyalty? What takes first place in our hearts? Has our love been misplaced?

“All these toys were never intended to possess my heart. My true good is in another world, and my only real treasure is Christ.” – C.S. Lewis

God blesses us, His children, abundantly. All that we have and all that we are comes from His gracious hand. Yet these blessings were never meant to capture our hearts… to lure us away from Him. They were given out of His deep love for us. God’s many blessings can come to take precedence over the Blesser Himself. His bountiful gifts can become more adored than the Giver.

Idolatry is not just an ancient worship of graven images. Idolatry is alive today. Idols abound in our world. Whatever replaces the God who created us as supreme in importance in our lives is an idol. Idols can be anything or anyone we value more highly than the God of our hearts.

We may not see the harm of idols because what we value highly is often good. Yet when that object of our devotion takes first place in our lives, it becomes a love misplaced… a present-day idol. Idols can be… money and possessions, status and influence, education and career, recreation and pleasure, comfort and security.

Idols can creep subtly into our lives. How does this happen? When the pursuit of things to gratify our desires or our ego surpasses our devotion to God. When reliance upon people to satisfy our need for love and security eclipses our dependence upon God.

Idols cannot save us… they are powerless to help. Their only power is to entice us away from God and His path. There is only One who saves, Jesus Christ. We can be aware of any idols in our lives by looking at what fills our thoughts… what absorbs our time… what brings us joy.

We may place our trust in idols, looking to them for what only God can give us. Yet He longs for our utmost devotion. He is to be the supreme object of our love. He is our heart’s true treasure. In Him our loyalty lies. In God alone we place our absolute trust.