Maneki Neko (Isaiah 44:19)

Anyone who has been in a Japanese retail store or restaurant has undoubtedly spied a ceramic cat, perched on its hind legs with one paw lifted up. Here is an example. 

Source: Amazon.com

It is the maneki-neko. 

The exact origins are a bit murky but the intention of positioning it in one’s business is to beckon and welcome customers. Although many modern Japanese do not take it very seriously, this tradition has spread to other Asian countries, notably China. There is cultural significance and some business people feel that even if it doesn’t work, it couldn’t hurt to display it. If there is no meaning, then why continue this tradition? 

How foolish are those who manufacture idols. These prized objects are really worthless. The people who worship idols don’t know this, so they are all put to shame. Who but a fool would make his own god—an idol that cannot help him one bit?

Isaiah 44:9-10 (NLT)

Idols take many shapes and sizes. It may be a ceramic figurine or something more subtle, such as a ritual one does before their favorite activity or occupation. Some athletes will wear a certain sock or an article of clothing before an important game. Some attorneys will perform a pre-trial ritual such as listening to a particular song or reciting an inspiring quote of their favorite philosopher. All of these activities are done since when it was first performed, it led to a successful outcome, therefore, why not continue this tradition, even if it makes no rational sense.

The person who made the idol never stops to reflect, “Why, it’s just a block of wood! I burned half of it for heat and used it to bake my bread and roast my meat. How can the rest of it be a god? Should I bow down to worship a piece of wood?”

Isaiah 44:19 (NLT)

It took a very long time for me to realize that the idols that I cherished in my life were powerless and lifeless blocks of wood. I have diplomas on my wall and certificates of achievement. For years, I would look at them to inspire me and encourage me to persevere in what I was doing. What I failed to see was these awards had no power. I only achieved them because of Gods’ grace and mercy in my life. What does it truly mean to have gained all of these but forfeited my life? There is nothing I can achieve or gain that I can exchange for the worth of my soul. 

Should I bow down to worship a piece of wood? Only if I am willing to sacrifice my soul and forsake my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Love and trust the Lord; seek His will in your life.

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