Wooden Idols Compared with Noah's Wooden Boat
1In the same way, a man getting ready to sail on the raging sea will call for help from a piece of wood that is not as strong as the ship he is about to board. 2Someone designed the ship out of a desire for profit, and a craftsman built it with skill. 3But it is your care, O Father, that steers it; you give it a safe path through the waves of the sea. 4People may go to sea even if they have no skill, because you can save them from any danger. 5It is your will that the things you have made by your wisdom should be put to use. And so people can cross the sea in a boat and come safely to land, because they trust their lives to that small piece of wood.
6This is what happened in ancient times, when a proud race of giants was dying away. The hope of the world escaped on such a boat under your guidance and left the world a new generation to carry on the human race. 7A blessing was on Noah's wooden boat that allowed righteousness to survive, 8but a curse is on an idol made by human hands. A curse is also on the one who makes it, because he works on this perishable thing and then calls it a god. 9Ungodly people and these ungodly things they make are equally hated by God, 10who will punish both the things made and the people who made them. 11And so God's judgement will fall on pagan idols, because, even though they are made from something God created, they become horrible things that trap the souls of foolish people.
The Origins of Idolatry
12Sexual immorality began when idols were invented. They have corrupted human life ever since they were first made. 13Idols have not always existed, nor will they exist for ever. 14It was human pride that brought them into the world, and that is why a quick end has been planned for them.
15Once there was a father who was overwhelmed with grief at the untimely death of his child, so he made an image of that child who had been suddenly taken from him. He then honoured a dead human being as a god, and handed on secret rituals and ceremonies to those who were under his authority. 16As time went on, this ungodly custom became stronger. Finally it became law, and idols were being worshipped at the command of powerful rulers. 17When people lived too far away to honour a ruler in his presence but were eager to pay honour to this absent king, they would imagine what he must look like, and would then make a likeness of him. 18The ambitious artists who made these likenesses caused this worship to spread, even among people who did not know the king. 19An artist might want to please some ruler, and so he would use his skill to make the likeness better looking than the actual person. 20Then people would be so attracted by the work of art, that the one whom they had earlier honoured now became the object of their worship. 21So all this became a deadly trap, because people who were grieving, or under royal authority, would take objects of stone or wood, and give them the honour reserved for the one God.
The Results of Idolatry
22One thing led to another. It was not enough to be wrong about the knowledge of God. They lived in a state of evil warfare, but they were so ignorant that they called it peace. 23They murdered children in their initiation rituals, celebrated secret mysteries, and held wild ceremonial orgies with unnatural practices. 24They no longer kept their lives or their marriages pure. A man might kill another by an act of treachery or cause him grief by committing adultery with his wife. 25Everything was a complete riot of bloody murder, robbery, deceit, corruption, faithlessness, disorder, falsehood, 26harassment of innocent people, ingratitude, moral decay, sexual perversion, broken marriages, adultery, and immorality. 27The worship of idols, whose names should never be spoken, is the beginning and the end, the cause and the result of every evil. 28People who worship them lose control of themselves in ecstasy, or pass off lies as prophecies, or live wickedly, or break their word without hesitation. 29They tell lies under oath and expect no punishment, because the idols they put their trust in are lifeless. 30But punishment will finally catch up with them, for two reasons: first, they were in error about God when they worshipped idols, and secondly, they had so little regard for holiness that they made false statements to deceive people. 31When unrighteous people commit sin, they will be hunted down, not by the power of whatever thing they swear by, but by the punishment that sinners deserve.