No Other Gods

small Buddhist shrine

In September 2017, I made my second visit to Singapore with several co-workers to train sellers from across the Asia Pacific region on our latest IBM offerings. During this visit, we would train two groups of sellers, with class held each week on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.

I mentioned to my co-workers that during our time in Singapore that I would be celebrating a “big birthday” – one with a zero at the end. Since we had Thursday evening to Monday evening free between the two weeks of training, my coworkers suggested that we go on a trip to a neighboring country. A coworker from Vienna suggested that we visit Bangkok because his parents really enjoyed the city.

Millennium Hotel Bangkok

We were able to book a surprisingly cheap but very nice hotel overlooking the Chao Phraya River. The hotel provided an incredible view of Bangkok, especially at night. Beautiful pool. Attentive staff. Good food. Great company. Perfect to celebrate a milestone birthday

Over 400 Buddha Statues!

There are over 400 Buddha statues in the city of Bangkok, and my coworker from Ireland and I believed we visited every one that Sunday. Our feet were tired. There were standing Buddhas, sitting Buddhas, laying down Buddhas – from small to over 300 feet high.

No other gods - statue of the Buddha  No other gods - statue of the Buddha  No other gods - statue of the Buddha

92.5% of the Thai people are Buddhists (“To Be Thai is to Be Buddhist”) so it was no surprise that Bangkok had so many Buddha statues. Buddhists worship the Buddha as a sign of respect and devotion to his teachings, but they do not consider the Buddha a god; the Buddha was simply a human being. He claimed no inspiration from any god or external power. Instead, he attributed all his realization, attainments, and achievements to human endeavor and human intelligence.

groom & bride in Buddhist temple

Israel’s Idol Problem

In many of the temples we visited that Sunday in Bangkok, people (often monks) were worshiping the beautiful golden, bronze, or copper statues of the Buddha, much like I would imagine happened in Canaanite temples in Old Testament times. The nation of Israel had an idol problem. When Noah’s grandson Canaan moved into the region we now know as Israel, they rejected Noah’s gods. Instead they built temples throughout Canaan and set up statues of their gods. They worshiped El (chef god), Asherah (consort of El and mother to other gods), Ba’al (most powerful of Canaanite gods), and Anath (Ba’al’s consort, goddess of war and sexuality).

Abraham insisted that his son Isaac’s wife be true to the God who promised that Abraham would have descendants more numerous than the stars and the sands on the beach. I wonder how different world history would have been if Abraham had made a similar requirement for his older son, Ishmael, who fathered the Arab nations (now 93% Muslim). Ishmael needed a godly wife too.

We Want a King!

Unfortunately, Abraham’s devotion towards God soon faded with his descendants. The Israelites demanded a king, like the surrounding nations, thereby rejecting God as their King. They wanted to worship like the pagan nations and worshiped statues made of metal, wood, or stone made in the images of Ba’al, Asherah, Moloch, and other false gods. Molech was another Canaanite deity known for practices of child sacrifice.

The Israelites were God’s Chosen people, set apart to be a showcase of God’s Name and power to the surrounding nations. Their decision not to honor the God that had chosen them and provided for them resulted in the Jewish people being sent into exile, first the Northern Kingdom to Assyria (723 BC) and later the Southern Kingdom to Babylon (586 BC). God is serious about the First Commandment: You shall have no other gods before Me (Exodus 20:3).

No Other Gods Means Zero

No other gods - as effective as a Ba'al of hay

Why would anyone worship a god of metal, stone, or wood? When my children were in children’s choir, they were in a musical titled “Good Things Come in Small Packages” about King Josiah. The musical included the line “you might as well pray to a Ba’al of hay”. A statue of Ba’al was as powerless as a bale of hay. Maybe that was the point. While the statue couldn’t do anything for you, neither did it call you a sinner nor make ethical demands on how you lived your life.

Nearly 22% of the world’s population still worships some sort of graven image (15.2% Hindu, 6.6% Buddhist). Many faiths light candles or pray to someone other than God (e.g., saints).

Our work is not done until every nation, tribe, people, and language has heard (Revelation 7:9). Tell others about Jesus. Show them how He changed your life for the better. Love God and love others extravagantly, for the glory of God.

Heaven will include people of every nation

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, we come before You today acknowledging Your sovereignty and majesty. There is none like you. Forgive us for the times when we place possessions, wealth, ambitions, power, or even our own desires before You. These are our idols, and they will never satisfy our soul. Let us love You with all our heart, soul, and strength, placing You above all else. Grant us the wisdom to recognize the idols in our lives and the strength to remove them. In Jesus’ name, we pray, Amen

Steve Choquette

Steve Choquette is a loving husband, father, and grandfather. After a 45 year career as a software engineer and a product manager, Steve is now retired for the third time. Time will tell if he stays retired. He loves writing, gardening, traveling, and spending time with his grandchildren.

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