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In what way are idols connected to demons (Deuteronomy 32:16–17)?

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A connection between idols (or false gods) and demons (or fallen angels) is seen in Deuteronomy 32:16–17. The passage says: "They stirred him to jealousy with strange gods; with abominations they provoked him to anger. They sacrificed to demons that were no gods, to gods they had never known, to new gods that had come recently, whom your fathers had never dreaded." The phrases "strange gods" and "demons that were no gods" are synonymous here, and refer to demonic beings which set themselves up as gods in the hearts of men, in order to steal glory from God.

Another verse (Leviticus 17:7) makes the same connection between pagan idolatry and demons, which the Bible calls "goat demons" to whom the people were making sacrifices. There is further evidence of a connection in the book of Daniel, which mentions demonic presences called the Prince of Persia and the Prince of Greece against whom Michael the archangel warred. This implies that there may be a specific demon that dominates a certain people-group or area and is perhaps associated with the gods of that place or people-group (Daniel 10:13, 20). The apostle Paul confirms the association between idols and demons in his letters to the Corinthian church, saying, ". . .what pagans sacrifice they offer to demons and not to God. I do not want you to be participants with demons" (1 Corinthians 10:20). Paul also says that an idol is nothing to those who are in Christ (1 Corinthians 8:4). However, idolatry is participation with demons—not just the fabricated traditional "gods" of man's imagination.

The Israelites even at one time sacrificed their own children to the false gods of Canaan (Psalm 106:38). Canaan was the Promised Land, but was once inhabited by the Anakites (or Emim) which were a race of tall people (Deuteronomy 2:10–11). The Bible says they were "counted as Rephaim" and the word rephaim is translated titan in the Greek. In Greek mythology, the Titans were descended from the gods. Giant in size and incredibly strong, they ruled the earth during the "Golden Age" of Greek myth and became part of the Greek pantheon of deities. There is a corresponding story in the Bible—the Nephilim, giant mighty men who were the children of fallen angels and women. The Rephaim were likely the descendants of the Nephilim, and the gods they worshipped were likely demonic beings. In this way, we also see there is a plausible connection between the Greek gods and demonic beings. In the end, demonic beings will address the kings of the world, impress them with supernatural signs, and stir them up to battle against God (Revelation 16:14).

The Lord commanded against the service of idols (2 Kings 17:15) and called it "abomination" (2 Kings 21:11; 23:24). And clearly, when we see these connections between idols and demons, we should perceive that God's warning against idolatry is sound and should be followed. The people of God were warned not to create idols of metal, or images or pillars or idols of stone to bow down to (Leviticus 19:4; 26:1). Today, our idols may not be made of metal or stone. Sins like sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness are called idolatry in the New Testament (Colossians 3:5).

"Little children, keep yourselves from idols." 1 John 5:21

Related Truth:

What is the definition of idolatry?

What are demons according to the Bible?

What are some forms of modern idolatry?

What does it mean that Satan is the god of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4)?

Why is idol worship so tempting?

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