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  • Writer's pictureMike Creavey

Abraham: Idol Shop = Bull: China Shop

An ancient Midrash legend tells of Abraham in his early life, living in Ur of the Chaldees in Mesopotamia, "the land between two rivers" (Tigris & Euphrates).

Abraham was the son of Terah, a man who earned his living as an idol maker. Day in and day out, Terah worked diligently crafting "gods" of stone and wood. The rich pantheon of the ancient gods made it so there was no shortage of work for Terah. But his son did not share his worldview or his enthusiasm for idol worship, even at a young age.

It happened one day that Terah needed to go on a journey. Understandably desiring that his business not be interrupted during his absence, he left the shop in the hands of his son Abraham.

Before long, a man entered and began to peruse the multitude of idols on display. Big gods, small gods, gods as big as your head... masculine gods, feminine goddesses, gods for the sun, the stars, the sea, war, fertility, fortune... "How old are you?" came a question from the young boy running the shop.

"Fifty," came the reply. Abraham smiled and shook his head.

"How sad indeed that a man of fifty years wants to bow down to a one-day-old idol."

Utterly shocked and embarrassed, the man promptly left the shop.

And so it continued for a good while. A woman entered at one point with a basket of bread. She presented it to Abraham saying, "Take this and offer it to the gods."

The boy immediately sprang to his feet, grabbed the nearest hammer, and to the horror of the woman, he went about the shop smashing every idol but one to smithereens. Once he had finished the monumental demolition, he paced over to the remaining idol - it was the largest. Placing the hammer into its hand, he grinned and awaited his father's return.

Terah, as we can imagine, stood frozen in a near catatonic state the moment he shadowed the door of his beloved idol shop. Shattered pieces of stone and splintered wood lay in heaps over every square inch of the place. Everything was destroyed - everything but the largest idol of all. Next to it stood his son Abraham, looking unfazed and rather calm.

Enraged, Terah lit into the boy. "Who did this?" he shouted. "Was it you?!"

Abraham said in a cool and collected reply, "Father, how could I ever hide anything from you? Not long after you left, a woman entered the shop with bread for an offering to the gods. I in turn brought her generous gift before all of them and each one said, 'I shall eat first!' Then, suddenly, the biggest and most powerful one of all leaped forward, clutched the hammer in his hand and set about shattering all of the others to pieces!"

"Are you out of your mind?!" Terah howled back. "Do they have minds? They're made of stone and wood!"

Abraham smiled at his father as the point sank in.

The idols of the nations are silver and gold, the work of human hands. They have mouths but do not speak; they have eyes but do not see;

They have ears but do not hear; nor is there breath in their mouths. Their makers will become like them, and anyone who trusts in them.

Psalm 135:15-18

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