Idol Madness

Written by Karl Dahlfred on .

Jatukhamramathep amulets for sale in a Thai shop (photo credit: recently took a field trip to Southern Thailand to check out a potential ministry opportunity in Nakorn Sri Thammarat province and, among other things, we observed how much the people there are into a particular amulet called Jat-Tu-Kham-Rama-Thep. In fact, the amulet comes from Nakon Sri Thammarat and is so immensely popular right now that people come from all over the country to buy up these amulets and resell them at a 30-60 fold profit. Jat-tu-kham, unlike a lot of other amulets, is not a Buddha image but is an image of an ancient king of Nakon Sri Thammarat who has been elevated to divine, or angelic, status. Every place in Nakon is selling these things - restaurants, beauty shops, malls, convenience stores - everyplace. It's idol madness, really.

Something really notable about the Jat-tu-kham, besides the fact that it is so immensely popular with Thai people, is the probable reason why it is so popular. I recently read an article in a Thai national newspaper's weekly magazine that said the Jat-tu-kham amulets are popular because what the amulet promises corresponds to Thai people's current needs - i.e. the desire to have money and get rich! The economy is down and people want something to help them make money (or get rich, perhaps). Listen to some of the names of the different editions (or models) of the amulet that have been produced: "Money Rolls In", "Money Rolls In 2, Special Edition", "Gold Pours In", "Rich to the Skies", "Creates Wealth", "Creates Luck", and so forth.

The difference between worshipping something like Jat-tu-kham-rama-thep and the Living God of the Bible is this: People who hang the Jat-tu-kham amulet around their neck do not do so out of a sincere love for Jat-tu-kham or because of the excellent and praiseworthy attributes of Jat-tu-kham. The amulet is a tool. Use the tool to get what you want. In this case, money. If the tool doesn't work, you move on and find a new tool. The God of the Bible, however, is not a tool to be used. He is the Almighy Holy Creator who is to be worship because He is God and there is no other. If God does not give us what we want, we do not move on and pragmatically find some other god that will. Like Job, we confess that "The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. Blessed be the Lord". And like David in the 23rd Psalm, we throw ourselves upon the Good Shepherd who will lead us to still waters although we must first pass through the valley of the shadow of death, by the grace of our Lord. God doesn't remove the bad times, but helps us through them.

It pains me to see people pinning their hope on something that can not help - in this case a round piece of hardened clay in a shiny little case hanging around their neck. The popularity of this amulet and the vast numbers of people who believe it will help them drives me to pray more diligently that God will open people's eyes and change their heart to put their hope in the Living God and in our Savior Jesus Christ who, while not promising riches, promises that he will walk with us through all of life's difficulties and sustain us until we reach our heavenly home.
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