Vanity of Idols

Isaiah 44:9-11. They that make a graven image are all of them vanity: and their delectable things shall not profit; and they are their own witnesses; they see not, nor know; that they may be ashamed. Who hath formed a god, or molten a graven image that is profitable but for nothing? Behold, all his fellows shall be ashamed; and the workmen, they are of men: let them all be gathered together, let them stand up; yet they shall fear, and they shall be ashamed together.”

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God has always been very clear, throughout the Bible, that idolatry will end in emptiness (vanity). The second commandment in Exodus 20, following the first that the people should worship no other gods before Him, was that they were not to make and carved or molten or any other sort of images that they would worship (Ex. 20:4-5).  The greatest national sin of Israel has always been their habit of turning to the worship of the idols of the nations around them. Every time they fell into that sin, God  allowed the natural consequences of their sin to fall upon them. They would then return to God, but it was a repeated cycle down through the centuries of the history of Israel.

The idols that men make are never profitable. They do not see, hear, or know.The workmen who create idols for profit will be ashamed, knowing that what they create themselves is only wood, stone, or metal.   “But these figures represent gods,” say those who worship idols. “They give us a focus for our worship.  What can be wrong with that?”

The answer is simple, really. Those idols and images take the focus off the true and living God, and turn the attention of worshipers away from Him.

How can we argue with what God Himself has to say?  So much evil has been done in the name of idols, including the sacrifice of living babies to the fiery embrace of Moloch. That is just evil. There is no other way to describe the satanic practice of sacrificing human souls to any god.

God vs. Idols

Isaiah 44:6-8. “Thus saith the Lord, the King of Israel, and his Redeemer the Lord of hosts: I am the First, and I am the Last: and beside me there is no god. And who, as I, shall call, and shall declare it, and set it in order for Me, since I appointed the ancient people? and the things that are coming, and shall come, let them shew unto them. Fear ye not, neither be afraid: have not I told thee from that time, and have declared it? ye are even my witnesses. Is there a God beside me? yea, there is no God; I know not any.”

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Here, God clarifies to His people that there is NO OTHER GOD but Him.  They persist in turning to the idols worshiped by the surrounding nations, forgetting that He is the Creator and King, Redeemer, First, Last, and only One Who is worthy of praise.

In verse 7, He declares Himself to be the only One Who can call or command events to happen, to declare them before they happen, and to decide their time and order of fulfillment. He also made it clear that He had been revealing this to Israel from the time He chose and appointed them as His witnesses.

God’s question in verse 8, Is there a god beside Me?  is followed by His simple answer: Yea, there is no god.  I know not any.

If God, Who is all-knowing, knows of no other gods, then there simply aren’t any. If there were, He would know.

Truth is so often simpler than the lies that man devises.

Millennial Blessings

Isaiah 44:3-5. “For I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground: I will pour My Spirit upon thy seed, and My blessing upon thine offspring: And they shall spring up as among the grass, as willows by the water courses. One shall say, I am the Lord’s; and another shall call himself by the name of Jacob; and another shall subscribe with his hand unto the Lord, and surname himself by the name of Israel.”

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The first half of verse 3  can be taken in the literal sense. God has promised in other passages that He will refresh and restore the land (35:1-6; 41:17-20).

The second half is definitely a reference to a spiritual outpouring. In the future tribulation period  there will be a great outpouring of the Spirit (Acts 2:16-21; Zech. 12:10-13:1) as well as in the Millennium (v. 3; 32:15).

There is no doubt that children will be born in the Millennium. They will grow in grace, and in health like grass in well-watered courses (v. 4).

Verse 5 teaches that profession of religion, recognition of Israel as God’s way of life for His people, will be common in the days of the Messiah.  The line another shall subscribe with his hand unto the Lord simply means that people will write, “I belong to the Lord,” or some similar statement of identification with Messiah.


Fear not, O Jacob

Isaiah 44:1-2. ” Yet now hear, O Jacob My servant; and Israel, whom I have chosen: Thus saith the Lord that made thee, and formed thee from the womb, which will help thee; Fear not, O Jacob, My servant; and thou, Jesurun, whom I have chosen.”

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This prophecy, as yet unfulfilled, is God’s promise that in spite of  their suffering, He will not forsake them. They will be restored.

Isaiah showed no difference in this passage between Jacob, Israel, and Judah. Jesurun,in verse 2, means the upright one.  The same word is rendered Jeshurun in Deut. 32:15.  It is a symbolic name of Israel. God Himself recognized Israel as justified and upright in His sight at first. Afterward, the nation forsook Him, rejected the Rock of their salvation and provoked Him with their sinning to the point that He abhorred them (Deut. 32:15-26).

How could God abhor His own people?

When someone who is deeply loved neglects, rejects, and distorts  your love, turning it to his own advantage, becomes abusive, manipulative, and careless toward you, that is abhorrent behavior. God  abhorred their behavior as time after time His people repeated the sin of idolatry, forsaking the One Who had brought them out of slavery and promised them their own land.

Rather than asking how He could abhor them, I think it would be more to the point to ask how He could continue, through the centuries, to love them, redeem them, keep His promises to them.  And not just to them, but to all who have professed belief in Him and then gone their own way, forsaking the One Who died in their place.

The patience and mercy of God is always amazing to me.

Thy First Father

Isaiah 43:27-28.  “Thy first father hath sinned, and thy teachers have transgressed against me. Therefore I have profaned the princes of the sanctuary, and have given Jacob to the curse, and Israel to reproaches.”

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My immediate thought was that thy first father hath sinned was a reference to Adam. Much to my surprise, there is some disagreement among commentators on exactly who that “first father” was.  Some believe it was Abraham, others that it was Jacob, who was the clear seminal head of the Israelite nation. Some believe it was Urijah, who was high priest during the time of Ahaz.  Some believe it is a reference to all the forefathers collectively, and that belief would tie in with the idea of the ongoing persistence in Israel’s sin in turning away from God and worshiping idols.

My Dake’s Study Bible has this to say:

This could not refer to Adam who was the father of the whole race, not of the Jews only. It could only refer to Abraham whom the Jews consider the father of the race (Matt. 3:9; John 8: 33-39). It would have been out of order to refer to Adam’s sin in this case, for the prediction concerned the destruction of the nation of Israel, their city and temple (v. 28). To say that Abraham was always righteous and faithful to God and could not be referred to as a sinner is erroneous.

What follows is a list of seven sins of Abraham. It’s an interesting study, but one I won’t reproduce here.

I think the important point here is that the sin of Israel started at the very beginning, and was perpetuated by the leaders (teachers) down through the generations.  The primary sin of the nation was to forsake the worship of the Holy One of Israel and turn to the idols of the nations surrounding them.  It was for this sin that God says He will turn Israel over to reproach.

Sunday Morning Coffee: Family

I know, I used family in my title yesterday.  Not very original to use it twice in one weekend, but oh, well 🙂

Short and sweet today.  People are starting to move around,  looking for coffee and breakfast.  I’ve pretty much left them on their own to fix cereal or toast or whatever.   I made a pot of coffee for them.   Aside from that, it’s each to his own.  That’s one of the perks of having grown-up grandkids.

Anyway I’ve been thinking a lot about family this week. The importance of it, the pleasure and joy of it. The fact is, God created the family.  He did that for many reasons, I’m sure, but for me one of the best parts of family is the shared history, the recognition of family traits, and the sense of belonging.

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My family is scattered from 15 miles away from us to South Dakota to England to Germany to New Zealand.  We tend to not stay in whatever place we’re born. Not sure why that is.  Maybe we come from a line of nomads 🙂  In any case, having so much distance makes the times we do get together all the sweeter.

I’m enjoying it.  A lot.

Psalm 68:6.  “God setteth the solitary in families: he bringeth out those which are bound with chains: but the rebellious dwell in a dry land.”


Family Time

My family from Germany is here.  Mike has been working for the American military there for about 20 years. They get  home leave every other year.  The main attraction this summer is that Janan’s parents are celebrating their 50th anniversary in July.

Right now, Janan and Victoria are busy preparing what looks like a feast–a full German breakfast.  I suspect lunch won’t be much of an issue today 🙂  It’s a treat to have them taking over in my kitchen, and they’re enjoying all the renovations that have been made since they were here last.

Connell injured his big toe a couple of weeks ago, a pretty severe cut, but he seems to be doing well.  He went with his grandfather yesterday to mow a friend’s yard.

It’s great to have them, and we’re having a great time catching up.  I’m going to try to maintain my normal blogging schedule, but I’m making no promises.  If I do drop out of sight for a day or two, don’t worry.  I’ll be back 🙂

I, Even I, am He

Isaiah 43: 24-26. Thou hast bought Me no sweet cane with money, neither hast thou filled Me with the fat of thy sacrifices: but thou hast made Me to serve with thy sins, thou hast wearied Me with thine iniquities. I, even I, am He that blotteth out thy transgressions for Mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins. Put Me in remembrance; let us plead together; declare thou, that thou mayest be justified.”

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Sweet cane, called sweet calamus, was used in the incense that Israel made for worship. Some was grown in Arabia, and India, and  an inferior quality in Egypt and Syria. The kind used by Israel was brought from afar (Jer. 6:20)

Filling God with the fat of sacrifices simply meant to satisfy Him by meeting His requirements according to the law of Moses .

A paraphrase of verse 25 could be, “Instead of serving Me in holiness and righteousness, and worshiping Me with sacrifices and offerings to atone for sin, you have served in your sins and burdened Me with your iniquities.”

In spite if the sin of His people, God promises that He will indeed forgive them (this promise presupposes a period of their coming to repentance, which will not happen in a national sense until the Millennial reign. The idea of blotting out sins is taken from the custom of keeping accounts and canceling or blotting out the charge when the debt is paid. Thus God  promised to cancel the sins of Israel and blot them all out. When this is done no punishment can be exacted for sins, and the people forgiven must be treated is pardoned friends.

Truly, what a kind and loving God we serve.

Israel’s Failures

Isaiah 43:22-23. “But thou hast not called upon Me, O Jacob; but thou hast been weary of me, O Israel. Thou has not brought me the small cattle of thy burnt offering; neither hast thou honoured me with thy sacrifices. I have not caused thee to serve with an offering, nor wearied thee with incense.”

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The glaring error in this painting is that Jesus was NOT calmly walking, unscathed, through the crowd.  He’s been mocked, scourged,  His beard pulled out, His face marred by fists. But He was indeed rejected by His own people,  not just during the time when Isaiah was a prophet, but during the time He walked on earth, among His own, and His own received Him not.

In Isaiah’s time, the people had turned away from God to worship idols. They were no longer praying to Him. They were not bringing him the lambs for sacrifice. In verse 23, God points out to the people that He was not being unreasonable in the offerings He required, and that they were actually far less than pagan idols  were given.

How can we apply these verses today, in our own treatment of Jesus Christ?  I think that’s pretty easy.  We are becoming more and more secularized as we are drawn to the world’s entertainments and philosophies.  Even though we have the complete Word of God, I sometimes wonder, if Jesus were to appear among  us today, if He wouldn’t receive the same reception now as He did then.

I think His holiness makes us uncomfortable.

A New Thing

Isaiah 43: 18-21. Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth: shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert. The beast of the field shall honour Me, the dragons and the owls: because I give waters in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert, to give drink to My people, My chosen. This people have I formed for Myself; they shall shew forth My praise.”

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“Don’t dwell on the past,” God said. “Pay attention to what I will do! ”

These verses speak of the Millennial reign of Christ. The earth will be more abundant than ever before. The deserts will no longer be vast wastelands. God will create a path that will go through the desert, where He will provide rivers instead of dry sand. Israel will finally come into its own; they will return to God, the Holy One of Israel; even the animals of the desert will honor Jehovah.