Uselessness of Idols

Isaiah 46:7. “ They bear him upon the shoulder, they carry him, and set him in his place, and he standeth; from his place shall he not remove: yea, one shall cry unto him, yet can he not answer, nor save him out of his trouble.”

 

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The gods man creates are actually pretty useless.  They need to be carried from one place to another; they just stay wherever they are set down; they can’t respond in any way. They can’t work miracles, they can’t answer prayer, they can’t save us from our troubles.

And yet we continue, even these “enlightened” times, to create what we think certain beings must have looked like, and we set them up in high places and worship them, even leaving them food and drink although we KNOW they are unable to consume anything.

If you’ve wondered why God returns to the topic of idols so often in Isaiah, it is because idolatry was one of Israel’s most besetting sins.  As they assimilated into the idol-worshiping cultures around them, married into them, they also adopted their gods and their practices of worship. Time after time, idolatry ended in disaster for Israel throughout their history.

But, you may say, WE don’t worship idols.  And I would point out just one thing:  The ubiquitous cell phone. Can you turn it off?  Does it follow you even into the bathroom?  Are you able to hold a face-to-face conversation with a live person without interrupting it to say, “Sorry, I need to take this?” whenever  your cell beeps?  Do you sleep with it within arm’s reach?  Do  you feel frantic if you misplace it?  Do you check  your cell the minute you shut off your alarm?

Maybe we need to rethink what we consider to be idols.

Challenge to Comparison

Isaiah 46: 5-6.

To whom will ye liken Me, and make Me equal, and compare Me, that we may be like?

They lavish gold out of the bag, and weigh silver in the balance, and hire a goldsmith; and he maketh it a god: they fall down, yea, they worship.

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This is a picture of the Mesopotamian God Nabu, god of  literacy, the rational arts, scribes and wisdom. How  strange that something man makes with his own hand and then worships is considered to be a god at all, never mind the god of the rational arts, and wisdom.

God’s question in verse five is simple:  Who are you going to compare to Me, and say is equal to Me?

He goes on to point out that idols are often expensive, made by  a goldsmith who costs a great deal of money. He then takes the gold or silver men have given him, and makes it into a god that the people fall down and worship. I supppose it makes sense in a twisted way, since mankind has always had a propensity to worship money itself.  But to create a figure out of gold or silver and then worship it, God say, makes no sense.

He cannot be compared to gold or silver. He created gold and silver!  Certainly the creation is not to be worshiped over the Creator.

 

Sunday Morning Coffee: Make it Today

Proverbs 29:1. “He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.”

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Romans 6:23 tells us that the wages of sin is death, but that God’s gift to us, through Jesus Christ, is eternal life in heaven with Him.

If we refuse to acknowledge the sinful nature with which we all are born, turning our backs on the sacrifice Jesus made when He accepted the job of dying in our place, paying the penalty of our sin, we are hardening our necks. We are stiffening our hearts under the Holy Spirit’s prompting to humbly confess our sin and accept his gift of salvation.

This verse in Proverbs makes it crystal clear that there will come a time for every person who, having constantly hardened his neck against God’s reproof,  will suddenly find himself with no more opportunity to repent. He will be cut off from all chance of salvation,  with no second chances.

That’s a most sobering reality.  No remedy, no chance to change one’s mind when one dies without every having come to faith in Jesus Christ. II Peter 3:9 says, “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”

God is patient. He is giving us all the time we need to turn our hearts to Him.  Let me invite you to  accept Jesus Christ as your Savior today. He is waiting for you.  He loves you.  He wants you to be in heaven with Him.  Please don’t harden your heart.

 

Omnipotence of God

Isaiah 46:3-4

Hearken unto Me, O house of Jacob, and all the remnant of the house of Israel, which are borne by Me from the belly, which are carried from the womb:

And even to your old age I amHe; and even to hoar hairs will I carry you: I have made, and I will bear; even I will carry, and will deliver you.

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God reminds Israel (Jacob) of their unique origin and support. No other nation has been promised and has experienced the protective and delivering hand of God in the same way Israel has. For their future, God promises to carry them through old age, and to continue to deliver them.  He will not forsake His people, but will carry them through  whatever they must endure.

This passage, for some reason, reminds me of a time when I was maybe five, but no older. We lived in Minneapolis.  It was winter, and apparently there had been a thaw and then a re-freezing.  Where Dad had parked the car, there was nothing more than a sheet of ice.  I was wearing my “church shoes”—only older folks will identify with that 🙂  They were dressy shoes, with slick, hard soles. I remember this very clearly because it was rare. Apparently my dad was worried that I would slip and fall, because I suddenly found myself being carried in one arm.  I felt so safe!  I don’t remember if he was helping my mom or sister with his other hand.  I just knew I would be fine as long as he was holding me.  It never crossed my mind that he would drop me or that he might fall. I trusted him absolutely.

This is the picture that came to mind when I read this passage today.  God is carrying Israel as a father would carry a child through danger.  That picture has made this passage even more precious to me.

Powerless Idols

Isaiah 46:1-2. “Bel boweth down, Nebo stoopeth, their idols were upon the beasts, and upon the cattle: your carriages were heavy loaden; they are a burden to the weary beast.

They stoop, they bow down together; they could not deliver the burden, but themselves are gone into captivity.”

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Bel was the chief domestic god of Babylon, worshipped also by the Phenicians, Canaanites, Moabites, and surrounding nations. It was supposed to be the god or idol used in worship of the sun; and Astarte or Astareth the one used in worship of the planet Venus.

Nebo was used in worship of Mercury; he was the scribe of the heavens, supposedly, and recorded all earthly and heavenly events.  He was the same as the Greek Hermes, the Latin Mercury, and the Egyptian Thoth.  Nebo’s job  was to interpret for the other gods. He was the scribe of Bel; his symbol was a wedge or arrowhead.  The whole picture here is that of conquest.

Bel is more familiar to us as Baal and Nebo formed a part of the name Nebuchadnezzar.  It was fairly normal for these conquering kings to adopt the names of gods into their own names.

Our passage yesterday made it clear that every knee shall bow, every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. No matter how powerful these gods may have been seen by those who worshipped them, at the end they are nothing more than luggage that slows the progress of the animals that pull the carts.  There is no supernatural power in a piece of wood, a chunk of marble,  or a painting of some supposed deity.

 

Rebels Humbled

Isaiah 45:23-25

23 I have sworn by Myself, the word is gone out of My mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, That unto Me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear.

24 Surely, shall one say, in the Lord have I righteousness and strength: even to Him shall men come; and all that are incensed against Him shall be ashamed.

25 In the Lord shall all the seed of Israel be justified, and shall glory.

 

Deliverance from the Tribulation period and from pagan idolatry will be followed by the worldwide acknowledgment of God.God, swearing by Himself, pledges the absolute accomplishment of His purpose that every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that he is Lord.This prophecy is repeated in  in Romans 14:11 and Phil. 2:10.

Righteousness and strength are the sum of true religion and all that man needs. These can be found in God alone, and not in idols.

All God’s enemies will eventually be ashamed, even if forced to bow the knee, and confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of the Father.

All the seed of Israel: The whole of the tribes, including the half-tribes, will be gathered back to their land and be saved.

 

 

 

Look Unto Me

Isaiah 45:20-22

20 Assemble yourselves and come; draw near together, ye that are escaped of the nations: they have no knowledge that set up the wood of their graven image, and pray unto a god that cannot save.

21 Tell ye, and bring them near; yea, let them take counsel together: who hath declared this from ancient time? who hath told it from that time? have not I the Lord? and there is no God else beside Me; a just God and a Saviour; there is none beside Me.

22 Look unto Me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.

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God is speaking to the nations now, not just to Israel.  Salvation is for all mankind, not just the Jews. He call the nations to assemble together, and it would seem that the time here is after the Tribulation judgments. He is speaking to those who have escaped, and He warns them that those who make idols of wood and pray to graven images are praying to gods who cannot save anyone from anything.

God, speaking to Isaiah, tells him to summon the nations and let them present their arguments for the  worship of gods they have made with their own  hands, lifeless gods who can do nothing.

Once again, He declares that He alone is God, and there is no other. He alone can save us.