Today’s Chocolate: Tony’s Chocolonely Milk Chocolate with Caramel and Sea Salt
Today’s Passage: Psalm 115
If the central question of modern theology is “What is the nature of God?” then the central question of theology in the ancient Near East was “Which gods should we worship?” In ancient cultures, towns would commonly adopt a patron deity, and there were no shortage of choices. Just take a look at Wikipedia’s list of Mesopotamian deities. And people would commonly fashion sculptures of their deities as part of their worship: they’d make idols.
By forbidding the creation of idols, the God of Ancient Israel stood in contrast to other gods. In the second commandment, he banned idol worship and refused to be represented by any material shaped by human hands. He was the true Creator, and humans had no business worshipping lesser beings that they made themselves. If anything, humans are the idols here, physical representations of the one true God: “God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them” (Gen. 1:27). Humanity’s function is to serve and worship the God that made them, not the gods that they’ve made. Mesopotamia’s parochial polytheism is an inversion of the proper order of the universe. It’s straight-up backwards.
Which brings us, finally, to Psalm 115. The first half is reminiscent of Isaiah’s critique of idolatry in Isaiah 44:9-20. The psalmist uses a different Hebrew word for idol, atsab (“image”), but the idea of the passage is the same: people alienate themselves by giving themselves to a compassionless block of wood or gold that can’t give back. The psalm emphasizes idols’ impotence; as powerless sculpted gods, they can’t speak, sense, or step. Moreover, there’s a warning in this worship song: “Those who make them will become like them, everyone who trusts in them” (115:8). You become like what you trust in. And the people who trust in inanimate non-gods will become just as weak and useless as their masters.
God, in contrast, empowers his worshippers. In fact, it’s his generosity that leads them to worship. The psalmist calls the people of Israel and the nation’s priests to trust in the Lord, who is described as “their help and their shield” (115:9). God protects and aids his people–and if humanity, made in God’s image, are his idols, they’re thinking and feeling idols that he loves to give blessings to. The congregation is led to sing: “The Lord has been mindful of us; He will bless us” (115:12). God has shown throughout Israel’s history that they’ve been on his mind. He hasn’t abandoned them, he’s brought them this far, and he will continue to bless them.
For today’s chocolate, we’ve got some more Tony’s Chocolonely. I don’t often go for caramel, but with the salty flavor, this is some pretty good stuff! And check out that big orange recycled-paper wrapper and that broken chain icon. Seeing as dark chocolate is my jam, I may have to get my hands on their dark bar once I finish the caramel one here. Thanks again to Jenny from Life in the Cookie Jar for the chocolate donation!