Saturday 07 December 2013

Bible Book:

"All who make idols are nothing, and the things they delight in do not profit; their witnesses neither see not know. And so they will be put to shame. Who would fashion a god or cast an image that can do no good?" (vv. 9-10)

Isaiah 44:9-23 Saturday 7 December 2013


In Isaiah 44:7 God dares to invite thespeculation "Who is like me?", offering Israel a challenge torespond to the faithfulness of their creator and sustainer withthankful witness. In today's passage, the unique power and glory ofthe Eternal One is emphasised with a searching examination of thosewho try to answer that challenge with their own handiwork:idolaters.

The worship of idols, the prophet declares, is senseless (verse9a), profitless (verse 9b) and only the blindly ignorant cancommend it (verse 9c,d). The production of the idol is described asa combination of human skill and use of God-given naturalresources. However, this is precisely the reason for the idol'sshortcomings: it is the product not of divinity but of human skilland design with all its limitations (verses 10-13) , and of metaland wood, materials which can just as easily be used to preparefood as to be worshipped (verses 15-17). The passage has a slightlymocking tone, reminding us today perhaps of instructions for makinggifts on Blue Peter, with the completed idol being 'one I madeearlier'. Yet this is no innocent pleasure but has underlyingmenace: devotion to an idol leads to the idolater becoming grippedin a hold which is hard to brake and which misleads them as to thetrue nature and identity of God (verse 20). Whilst the idolaterholds the idol in their hand, in reality at the same time (despiteits inanimate nature) the idol holds the idolater even more tightlyin its grip.

Idolatry may seem a strange idea to us today. After all, why wouldyou want to worship something you have made yourself, or someoneelse has made for you? Yet if an idol is anything that distracts usfrom God, obscures the divine nature of the Eternal One, and holdsus in its thrall, the concept is perhaps not so alien as mightfirst appear.

To Ponder

  • You are created in the image of God (Genesis1:27). But how do you avoid creating an understanding of Godtoo closely in your image?
  • John Wesley said that "we are encompassed on all sides withpersons and things that tend to draw us from our centre" (Sermon 79: On dissipation). Who or what arethose people and things for you?
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