The psalmist declared, “those who make idols are just like them, as are all who trust in them” (Psalm 115:8).
In his great book, We Become What We Worship, G. K. Beale articulates, “What we revere we resemble, either for ruin or restoration.” If we worship a lesser god, a god other than the God of the universe, we become like that god to our own destruction. If we worship Him, He restores us and transforms us.
In 1 Kings 18, Elijah the prophet of God and the prophets of Baal agreed to call on their God/god to see which one would answer with fire. Elijah invited the prophets of Baal to go first. For hours they danced, shouted, and cut themselves seeking to rouse their god to answer. “But there was no response, no one answered, no one paid attention” (1 Kings 18:29).
There was no sound because Baal could not make a sound with his throat (Psalm 115:7). Baal could not hear them, even if the statues representing him had ears (Psalm 115:6). He could not see the prophets, even if the statues had eyes (Psalm 115:5). He could not walk, even if the statues had legs (Psalm 115:7). He was utterly powerless.
And the worshipers of Baal became powerless like him. As they worshiped him, they became more and more like him.
The text says that they hobbled around (v. 26). They hobbled around because they cut themselves in service to their idol. They literally became like their god, limited in their ability to walk and move.
They offered sacrifices, blood sacrifices to Baal, but Baal could not smell them, even if the statue representing him had a nose. This means their sacrifices were never enough. Baal would never be satisfied. No matter how much the blood flowed, how much it gushed over them (v. 28), their offerings would never be enough because their make-believe god would never be quenched.
The idols we are tempted to worship will ruin us if we revere them. They will ask us for “more and more.” And as we offer more and more, we will become like them — lifeless and powerless.
But our God is different. He hears. He speaks. He moves. He is in heaven and does whatever He pleases (Psalm 115:3). And unlike Baal and the other idols, He smells. He smelled the sacrifice of Noah and promised never to curse the earth again (Genesis 8:21). And through the sacrifice of Jesus there is no condemnation for those who know Him (Romans 8:1). Our God does not demand “more and more”; instead He yelled out, “It is finished.” As we revere and worship Him, He transforms and restores us.