How Does God Differ from Man-Made Gods?

In the Old Testament, an Ephraimite named Micah was renowned for crafting his own idols (Judges 17:1-13).

His mother gave him money, which he had previously stolen, to make idols to worship at the shrine in his home (Judges 17:4-5).

Micah, like so many Israelites after him, created idols to worship and serve — gods of their own making.

Today, mankind continues to create its own gods. Whether in the form of carved idols or something in their life they worship above all else, humans continue to run after their made-up gods.

Although people may assume that worshiping man-made gods is no different than worshiping the Lord, such an idea could not be further from the truth. God is not like the idols, which humans construct.

Unlike God, idols are not real, are created, and reflect mankind’s sinfulness. In pitting the one true God against man-made gods, there is no real comparison.

God Is Real, Man-Made Gods Are Fake

Man-made gods are exactly what they claim to be: man-made. Although many people may believe their man-made gods are real, the Bible states otherwise.

A good example in Scripture about people coming to the realization that the Lord is the only God is in the account of Hezekiah and Sennacherib.

When the king of Assyria, Sennacherib, sent King Hezekiah a letter mocking God and claiming that Jerusalem would be destroyed, Hezekiah took his concerns to the Lord.

He acknowledged that the other peoples had been destroyed by the Assyrians and that their idols had been burnt by fire (Isaiah 37:14-19).

However, the so-called “gods” of the other nations “were not gods but only wood and stone, fashioned by human hands” (Isaiah 37:19, NIV).

Unlike the lifeless “gods” of the nations, Hezekiah knew the Lord, Yahweh, was real and the only God, who could rescue Jerusalem from the Assyrians (Isaiah 37:20).

Hezekiah was not the only one who realized that the man-made “gods” of the world were not really gods at all. Jeremiah declared that the “gods” man makes for themselves are not real, but rather are lifeless and worthless (Jeremiah 16:18-20).

The Hebrew word that is used to describe the idols in Jeremiah 16:18, “lifeless,” literally means a carcass, basically a dead thing with no life-breath (Strong’s Hebrew: 5038).

Such a statement correlates with what Paul says in the New Testament about how the Gentile Christians of Galatia used to be enslaved “to so-called gods that do not even exist” (Galatians 4:8, NLT).

While Christians should not ignore demonic activity and deception tied in with idols and man-made versions of God (1 Corinthian 10:20-21), the Bible plainly teaches that idols are not real.

The “gods” mentioned in the Old Testament, like Asherah or Baal, did not exist, just as much as the man-made gods of today do not exist, such as Allah or the gods of the Mormons.

Only the Lord God, who exists as the Trinity, in the person of the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit, is real and true.

As He declared in Isaiah’s record of visions, “I am the LORD, and there is no other; apart from me there is no God” (Isaiah 45:5, NIV).

God Is Self-Existent, Idols Are Created

Not only are idols fake, but they are also crafted by human hands and hearts. In his epistle to the Romans, Paul explains how people have served and worshiped created things rather than God (Romans 1:25).

For example, most carved idols are made of wood or stone, crafted by human hands (Psalm 115:4). Those who create their own gods are merely trusting in their creation, idols they have forged and molded (Habakkuk 2:18). Such man-made gods thus have a beginning, a time when they came into being.

Today, in Buddhist and Hindu temples, people can find large and small idols that are the result of human craft. Some idol worshipers have claimed divine origin of idols, such as the image of Diana, which used to stand at the temple in Ephesus (Acts 19:35).

However, there was a point in history when man crafted the idols, and the images came into being. Even in the case of man-made gods, which are not depicted in the form of carved images, they were still created in human hearts.

The man-made “gods” of greed or lust are formed in the hearts of men (Ephesians 5:5; Colossians 3:5). So also are the “gods” of other religions created by men. For instance, Joseph Smith created the “gods” of the Mormons, who found their beginning in his heart and mind, urged on by the demon Moroni.

In contrast to man-made gods, which are created, the Lord God is self-existent and eternal (Psalm 93:2). He was not created or crafted by human hands. Instead, the Lord has existed for all eternity.

While mankind and the universe have a beginning (Genesis 1:1), the God of the Bible does not. Like a perfect circle, God has no beginning or end (Deuteronomy 33:27; Psalm 90:2).

The fact that the Lord is the great “I AM,” represents His eternality and self-existence, meaning He is not dependent on anyone or anything for His existence (Exodus 3:14; John 8:58).

Man-Made Gods Depict Man

Since man-made gods were created by man, it is no surprise therefore that idols typically reflect mankind. When people try to mold God into a god of their own making, they often create a god that resembles themselves.

For instance, the “gods” or the Romans and Grecians were much more human-like than god-like. The many stories of Zeus (Jupiter) and his lustful escapades or irrational anger bursts mirror mankind’s sinful behavior and choices. The gods’ capricious and sinful attitudes often resembled humanity more than divinity.

Creating one’s own “god” therefore is linked to the desire to be in control of one’s own life and future. Satan’s original lie and temptation to mankind was that humans could become their own gods (Genesis 3:5).

Historically, this temptation has proven to be true as humans made images to look like themselves or to have characteristics that reflect mankind. The heart of the problem of idolatry is that humans want to be in God’s place.

Although mankind is busy making their own gods in their image, Scripture urges humans to worship the One in whose image they were created. Every person has been made in the image of God, having qualities that reflect Him (Genesis 1:27).

Part of these qualities has been marred by the fall of man, but when man places his faith in Christ, he is made new and enters the process of being restored to reflect the image of Jesus (2 Corinthians 3:18; 5:17). Humans should not worship their own image, but rather the Lord, who is the Creator and Savior.

The One and Only God

There are many man-made “gods,” but only one true God. All other “gods,” either in the form of idols or those created in other religions, are really not gods at all. They are lifeless things created in man’s sinful heart, which reflects human depravity.

The gods of one’s own making can never compare to the one and only God, who is real, eternal, and the Creator of all. Unlike idols, God is not dependent on anyone or anything for His existence.

He has always been and always will be the Lord God. Mankind may try to exalt themselves to high positions in creating their own gods, but nothing can outshine the glory of the Lord God. May He be forever praised.

For further reading:

Why Does it Have to Be Creation or Evolution?

Has Science Removed the Need for God?

What Is the Omnipotence of God? Definition and Bible Meaning

What Is an Asherah Pole?

How Are We Created in the Image of God?

What Does it Mean That Jesus Is the Alpha and Omega?

Is the Bible a Fairy Tale?

Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/YakubovAlim

Sophia Bricker is a freelance writer who enjoys researching and writing articles on biblical and theological topics. In addition to contributing articles about biblical questions as a contract writer, she has also written for Unlocked devotional. Holding a Bachelor of Arts in Ministry and currently pursuing a Master of Arts in Ministry, she is passionate about the Bible and her faith in Jesus. When she isn’t busy studying or writing, Sophia enjoys spending time with family, reading, drawing, and gardening.   

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