How Idols Melt Your Face Off

An idol is anything you place above God. More specifically, anything you love more than God.

It’s the thing you dream about, fixate on, want to have. It’s the thing that captivates you.

The movie, Raiders of the Lost Ark, depicted this perfectly.

Agents of Nazi Germany are attempting to locate and control the biblical ark of the covenant. In the movie, the ark represents a direct connection to God and thus power over others. That’s the first idol – the insatiable lust for power – and it is personified by the German character, Major Arnold Toht.

The second idol – the desire for eternal life and to to control God on our terms – is personified by the Frenchman, Dr. René Belloq. Belloq is helping the Germans to acquire the lost ark, but for his own purposes.

There are some fairly intense verses of judgment in the Old Testament book of Ezekiel, chapter 16, where the Lord says, And I will give you into their hands, and they shall throw down your vaulted chamber and break down your lofty places. They shall strip you of your clothes and take your beautiful jewels and leave you naked and bare. They shall bring up a crowd against you, and they shall stone you and cut you to pieces with their swords.” 

This is hard stuff to read. The context of the verses is that the Lord rescued a discarded baby, Israel. He fed her, clothed her and took care of her. When she was old enough, she gave her heart and body to lovers, who, in turn, ravished her and left her bare and homeless. Israel’s heart was set on serving the gods (idols) of the nations that surrounded her. Those nations then burned Israel to the ground. This is a metaphor for God’s call to us – to love him deeply. The Lord is merciful in warning us; the things that captivate our hearts enslave us and then ravish (destroy) us.

You see this vividly in Raiders. At the end of the movie, the German Toht and the Frenchman Beloq open the ark. Light streams out. Belloq says, “It’s beautiful!”

Isn’t this what serving idols first feels like? A burst of light, inherent beauty? But soon the light fades. The beautiful turns ugly.

For those standing at the ark, their idols led to judgement and destruction. The Nazis are consumed by fire. Belloq explodes. Majot Toht’s face melts off.

As artists who share in the human experience, we need to discern what idols we’re nurturing in our hearts. This is something we constantly have to wrestle with. It’s worth the struggle.

As Christians, we have a promise, also from the book of Ezekiel, in chapter 36: “I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you.”

Here’s a question you can use for self-coaching. Share your thoughts in the comments section or contact me directly.

  • What idols capture your heart?

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3 Responses

  1. This is well written, and reflects an understanding that many would not glean from the movie. I am glad to have found your site.

  2. Other thoughts: The last major action scene with the flesh melting off of several of the Nazi’s, actually brings to mind what happens when unholy meets holy. It’s not what the holy does to the unholy but how the unholy reacts to the holy. The Lord told Moses that no one could look upon Him and survive, so after the Lord passes by, Moses gets a glimpse of the Lords backside, and his body radiates so much light that the rest of Israel is afraid and Mose needs to hide his face.

    The movie has the hero (Indiana Jones) and the heroine closing their eyes and Indiana Jones saying, “keep your eyes closed Marian, don’t look”. The idea being that in the seeing, destruction would come. I fear that is too weak to express the real magnitude of what would happen, but it was a really close expression to what happened to Moses.

    I tried to expressed the thought in a song I wrote: The Glory of the Lord

    When Moses went to the Mountain, What did he see?
    That made his face shine, as bright as can be?
    When Moses came from the Mountain,
    All the people said, Oh Moses you better hide your face, or
    we’ll all flee!

    And the glory of the Lord, will shine upon his people,
    And the glory of the Lord, will shine upon us all.

    When Moses went to the Mountain, He went to see God,
    He said Lord show me your glory and I’ll be glad.
    But the Lord said to Moses, Oh I couldn’t do that, if you
    saw me in my glory, your just couldn’t last

    And the glory of the Lord, will shine upon his people
    And the glory of the Lord, will shine upon us all.

    Well the Lord said to Moses, I’ll tell you what I’ll do,
    I’ll stick you in this crevice and I’ll pass by you.
    And when you open your eyes, all you’ll get to see,
    Is the back of my glory, and that will have to be!

    And the glory of the Lord, will shine upon his people,
    And the glory of the Lord will shine upon us all.


    I heard a preacher one say, that he viewed Adam and Eve clothed in the light of God, and they were naked and unashamed. After the fall, that light left them, and now they knew they were naked, and they were ashamed.

    How great that light is, that comes from Christ, that John fell at his feet as if dead in fear, and the Lord reaches out and raises him, bidding him to look.

    Ah, we have so much to look forward to, so much to long for. For we will be bathed in the light of God’s Glory, covered by the white linen of holiness purchased for us, by Christ. Washed and made pure so that we can look upon him without combusting from the experience.

    Great Movie, but the reality is even more amazing than the Movie


    • Jim says:

      Thanks for your thoughts Charles. It’s great stuff.

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