“They sacrificed unto devils, not to God; to gods whom they knew not, to new gods that came newly up, whom your fathers feared not.” (Deuteronomy 32:17)
This terrible indictment was in the farewell song of Moses, written just before the tribes of Israel prepared to enter the Promised Land. Perhaps Moses was thinking mainly of the golden calf fashioned by Aaron, who had told the people: “These be thy gods, O Israel” (Exodus 32:4).
Aaron and the people certainly knew that the man-made calf was not “gods,” but they knew that there were many invisible spirit beings in the world and that these “devils” (actually fallen angels) could indwell images made by men as objects of worship. These evil spirits do possess certain powers, which can be used to impress their worshippers with the magical insights and abilities of the images.
This was also a problem in the early church. Paul warned his converts at Corinth: “The things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils” (1 Corinthians 10:20). John’s closing word to his own flock was: “Little children, keep yourselves from idols” (1 John 5:21).
It is a serious problem today—not only in lands where images and animalistic spirits abound but even in the “Christian” West, both in the proliferating New Age cults and in “mainline” churches that have diluted sound Bible teaching with humanism and ritualistic pantheism. And remember, too, that “covetousness” (that is, coveting money, or power, or anything more than the will of God) “is idolatry” (Colossians 3:5). When the prince of these devils himself sought the worship of Jesus, the Lord answered: “Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve” (Matthew 4:10). We need to remember and follow His example. HMM