They do not know nor understand; for He has shut their eyes so that they cannot see, and their hearts, so that they cannot understand. And no one considers in his heart, nor is there knowledge nor understanding to say, “I have burned half of it in the fire, yes, I have also baked bread on its coals; I have roasted meat and eaten it; and shall I make the rest of it an abomination? Shall I fall down before a block of wood?” He feeds on ashes; a deceived heart has turned him aside; and he cannot deliver his soul, nor say, “Is there not a lie in my right hand?” (Isaiah 44:18-20)
Worshiping A Totem Or A Cross
The indigenous people of the Americas were filled with superstition, idolatry, and pagan worship of the gods of the world. Totems were characteristic of the Pacific Northwest as monumental carvings with symbols, figures, and often animals depicting a cultural emphasis. These wood carvings often portrayed spiritual worship to the gods of their peculiar mythology. Revered for their beauty and artwork, the totems represented family heritages, stories of old and significant events in the lives of the community. The Haida people of British Columbia, Canada, are thought to have originated the custom of totems and the practice spread throughout the Pacific Northwest. What is found in the totems is the language of the idol worship prevalent throughout the history of mankind.
A man goes into the forest and cuts down a tree to fashion into the image of a god. He uses great skill to measure a block of wood and draws a pattern on it. With chisel and plane, the totem is carved into a human figure. He gives it beauty and falls and prays to his god to deliver him. It makes no sense to see how the man cuts the tree down, uses part for a fire to bake his bread and warm himself; and taking the remaining portion to create a god to guide him, teach him and protect him. Why would a man fall down and worship a block of wood? His heart is deceived into believing the god he has created is greater than himself and able to exercise great power over his life. But who created who? Isaiah declares, “Is there not a lie in my right hand?”
There are many totems in the lives of God’s children that deceive the heart. It does not have to be something evil to distract us. If a totem becomes planted in our mind then many things in the world will draw our hearts away from God. Covetousness is a huge totem. Pleasure and entertainment become gods of their own driving so many parts of our lives. Wealth fogs the eyes to look for happiness in coin and riches. Worship can become a totem when we design a system of faith that eases our conscience to serve God but not to become too overly concerned about the details. This is known as the social gospel and purpose-driven church that pleases the masses.
Like everything, totems have a short life span. In the Pacific Northwest, the natives would use western red cedar and other rot-resistant trunks to create their totems. However, time would diminish the totems to the point of decay and disrepair. In the beginning, the totems were beautiful with vibrant colors and incredible carvings. Over time, weathering removed the colors and destroyed the wood. The totems of life are like that. Riches fade, desire ceases, and pleasures end. Trusting in the totems of life will not bring everlasting happiness. Instead of seeking after a man-made creation to worship self, the happy heart will seek the two-thousand-year-old wooden cross of Jesus Christ. It is still as fresh and powerful as the day the blood of Jesus stained its fibers. Through that cross, eternal salvation is found that will never fade away. This cross was ordained by the Father as the means that all men could come to Him and enjoy blessings eternal. Which wood do you serve: your totem or the cross of Jesus Christ?