When I think about ways to help people (big or little) understand what a ThroughLine looks like, I think about stories. Good stories stir our hearts. They engage our imagination. They connect us to interesting characters and all of their experiences, joys, failures, triumphs, and consequences. Stories are powerful ways for us to see ThroughLines in action and to begin to imagine what it might look like for us to become that kind of character.
Here are some great idolatry-discerning narratives from the Bible that could help elementary-aged children begin to recognize what an idol is, appreciate the courage it takes to worship God instead of idols, and develop their own devotion to God alone.
Elijah & the Prophets of Baal
There’s only One God who answers prayer and powerfully works for the good of his people, as Elijah demonstrates here.
Where: 1 Kings 18:20-40
Key Verse: “And Elijah came near to all the people and said, ‘How long will you go limping between two different opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him.’ And the people did not answer him a word” (1 Kings 18:21 ESV).
Shadrach, Meshach, & Abednego
When Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refused to worship the golden image of King Nebuchadnezzar, they risked their very lives. These courageous idolatry-discerners feared God more than the fiery furnace.
Where: Daniel 3:1-4:3Key Verse: “Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up” (Daniel 3:17-18 ESV).
Key Verse: “Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up” (Daniel 3:17-18 ESV).
Moses, Aaron, & the Golden Calf
When Aaron fails to live as an idolatry-discerner, the people of Israel turn from the God who brought them out of Egypt and worship a powerless golden calf made out of their own jewelry.
Where: Exodus 32
Key Verse: “So Moses returned to the LORD and said, ‘Alas, this people has sinned a great sin. They have made for themselves gods of gold'” (Exodus 32:31 ESV).
What sets God apart from false idols? God actually speaks to his people and takes action to save them. The Psalmist reminds God’s people of this great truth in simple language any child could understand.
Where: Psalm 115:2-11
Key Verse: “[Idols] have mouths, but do not speak; eyes, but do not see. They have ears, but do not hear; noses, but do not smell. They have hands, but do not feel; feet, but do not walk; and they do not make a sound in their throat” (Psalm 115:5-7 ESV).