Billiken in Shinsekai, Osaka 


One of the interesting discoveries here at the old Osaka neighborhood of Shinsekai is Billiken which could be found in many restaurant facades:

Caption under above sign: “Billiken is a “god of happiness” that was created in the US in 1908.  In 1909, it came to Japan where its unique appearance with a pointed head and eyes turned upward, made it extremely popular as a god of happiness… It is said that if you rub the bottom part of Billion’s feet, your wish will come true.”

Wikipedia says:

The Billiken is a charm doll created by an American art teacher and illustrator, Florence Pretz of Kansas City, Missouri, who is said to have seen the mysterious figure in a dream.  It is believed that Pretz found the name Billiken in Bliss Carman‘s 1896 poem Mr. Moon: A Song Of The Little People. In 1908, she obtained a design patent on the ornamental design of the Billiken, which she sold to the Billiken Company of Chicago… Billiken is known as “The God of Things As They Ought to Be.

Billiken comes in many different forms:

These are very cute items. But I was reminded of certain verses that explain that if an uncanny happening like a fulfillment of a prophecy, a sign or wonder occurred that could be attributable to something or someone other than God Himself, these are to be inquired, probed, investigated to see if the glory will go to God Himself or not. If the glory goes to God Himself and strengthens a person’s faith in Him, then it is from God. Anything that will take away the glory from God Himself is actually not from Him as He will not yield His glory to another.

Here are some of the verses which my friend, Nanding, once shared with me:

Aaron’s Staff Becomes a Snake
Exodus 7:8 The Lord said to Moses and Aaron, 9 “When Pharaoh says to you, ‘Perform a miracle,’ then say to Aaron, ‘Take your staff and throw it down before Pharaoh,’ and it will become a snake.” 10 So Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and did just as the Lord commanded. Aaron threw his staff down in front of Pharaoh and his officials, and it became a snake.

11 Pharaoh then summoned wise men and sorcerers, and the Egyptian magicians also did the same things by their secret arts: 12 Each one threw down his staff and it became a snake. But Aaron’s staff swallowed up their staffs.

There are two sources of power. One can mimic the other.  How do you test if it is of God  or the enemy?

Deuteronomy 13 says  1 If a prophet, or one who foretells by dreams, appears among you and announces to you a sign or wonder, 2 and if the sign or wonder spoken of takes place, and the prophet says, “Let us follow other gods” (gods you have not known) “and let us worship them,” 3 you must not listen to the words of that prophet or dreamer. The Lord your God is testing you to find out whether you love him with all your heart and with all your soul. 4 It is the Lord your God you must follow, and him you must revere. Keep his commands and obey him; serve him and hold fast to him…  12 If you hear it said …that troublemakers have… led the people of their town astray, saying, “Let us go and worship other gods”… 14 then you must inquire, probe and investigate it thoroughly

Romans 1:25
They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator–who is forever praised. Amen.

Isaiah 44: 16 Half of the wood he burns in the fire; over it he prepares his meal,
    he roasts his meat and eats his fill.
He also warms himself and says,
    “Ah! I am warm; I see the fire.”
17 From the rest he makes a god, his idol;
    he bows down to it and worships.
He prays to it and says,
    “Save me! You are my god!”

Psalm 135:15-18
15 The idols of the nations are silver and gold,
    made by human hands.
16 They have mouths, but cannot speak,
    eyes, but cannot see.
17 They have ears, but cannot hear,
    nor is there breath in their mouths.
18 Those who make them will be like them,
    and so will all who trust in them.

Isaiah 47:13 All the counsel you have received has only worn you out!
    Let your astrologers come forward,
those stargazers who make predictions month by month,
    let them save you from what is coming upon you.
14 Surely they are like stubble;
    the fire will burn them up.
They cannot even save themselves
    from the power of the flame.

It is easy enough to be able to guard oneself from visible carved or shaped tangible idols but God is concerned about anything or anyone (even His blessings that come in the form of persons or a career or anything) that could take the Number One place in our hearts which He wants to be reserved for Him alone.

Oh dear Lord, it is easy to be swayed to revere many things and people above You specially when they are cute and it seems like it wouldn’t hurt to have an extra touch of luck. But it undermines Your being God and Lord and robs our faith in You and robs You, the One who died for for us and are now seated far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come, of glory due only to You.

We don’t want our prayers hindered by our sin. Please give us the spirit of discernment and wisdom to serve and worship You, the Creator only, and not created beings and worse, creations of created beings. Please guard our hearts from grieving You through idols; we ask these in Your name amen.


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