I’ve been reading through Vos’ sermons that he preached at Princeton Seminary to better understand how a redemptive historical hermeneutic is used in preaching, in the book Grace and Glory:
Here are some quotes from Vos’ exposition of Hosea 14:8 pertaining to idolatry forming a small biblical theology of idolatry:
“In emphasizing the verdant, living character of Jehovah with reference to Israel, the prophet may have had in mind, by way of contrast, the pagan deity from which these qualities of life and fruitfulness and miraculous provision are utterly absent. There used to stand beside the altar of idolatry a pole rudely fashioned in the image of Asherah, the spouse of Baal and goddess of fruitfulness. Nothing could have more strikingly symbolized the barrenness and hopelessness of nature worship than this dead stump in which no bud could sprout, and on which no bird would alight, and of which no fruit was to be found forever. How desperate is the plight of those Canaanites modern no less than ancient, who must look for the satisfaction of their hunger to the dead wood of the Asherah of nature, because they have no faith in the perpetual miracle of the fruit-bearing fig-tree of redemption” (pg. 15, Solid Ground Christian books edition as in link).
“Yea, anything that is cherished and cultivated apart from God in such a sense that we cannot carry it with us in the Godward movement of our life, becomes necessarily a hindrance, a profanation, and at last a source of idolatry. Man’s nature is so built that he must be religious either in a good or a bad sense. Ill-religious he may, but simply non-religious he cannot be. What he fails to bring into the temple of God, he is sure to set up on the outside , and not seldom at the very gate, as a rival object of worship. And often more ostensibly spiritual and refined these things are, the more potent and treacherous their lure. The modern man who seeks to save and perfect himself has a whole pantheon of ideals, each of them a veritable god sapping the vitals of his religion. Nay, the prophet goes even farther than this: Jehovah Himself can be made an object of idolatry. If one fails to form a true conception of his character and weaves into the mental image formed of Him the false features gathered from other quasi-divine beings, then, whatever the name employed, be it God or Jehovah or even “the Father,” the reality of the divine is not in it. In such a case it is the perverted image that evokes the worship, instead of the true God” (pg. 23).
“As the wife becomes like unto the husband, and the husband unto the wife, through the daily association of years, so Israel, the wife of Jehovah, is bound to undergo an inner change through which the features of God are slowly but surely wrought out in her character. The beauty of the Lord God is put upon her. This law works with absolute necessity. The prophet traces it even in the shameful pagan cult, which in other respects is the caricature of the true religion of Israel. Those who come to Baal-Peor and consecrate themselves to the shameful thing become abominable like that which they love. The principle laid down applies to all idolatry, open or disguised; an object of his supreme devotion not only turns into his master, but ends with becoming a superimposed character fashioning him irresistibly into likeness with itself. There is no worshiper but bears the image of his God” (pg. 30).