This may hurt a bit…
The act of idolatry has always been an offense to God. To place others, anything in a position of supremacy will always reap the ire of God. Israel knew that, and yet had willfully placed this, that and the other thing as objects of worship, over Yahweh. In Isaiah 44, God speaks through Isaiah and reminds the nation about the folly of such actions. The questions at the heart of it all are, “How could a mortal craft something by his own hands which merited being worshipped?” and, “How could the lesser create something of a greater status than himself which could be considered worthy of worship?”
The illustration, found in Isaiah 44:13-17, is simple, that of a man harvesting wood to be used for multiple purposes:
“…Another shapes wood, he extends a measuring line; he outlines it with red chalk. He works it with planes and outlines it with a compass, and makes it like the form of a man, like the beauty of man, so that it may sit in a house. Surely he cuts cedars for himself, and takes a cypress or an oak and raises it for himself among the trees of the forest. He plants a fir, and the rain makes it grow. Then it becomes something for a man to burn, so he takes one of them and warms himself; he also makes a fire to bake bread. He also makes a god and worships it; he makes it a graven image and falls down before it. Half of it he burns in the fire; over this half he eats meat as he roasts a roast and is satisfied. He also warms himself and says, ‘Aha! I am warm, I have seen the fire.’ But the rest of it he makes into a god, his graven image. He falls down before it and worships; he also prays to it and says, ‘Deliver me, for you are my god’”
We look upon these verses and brand him a fool… to think that a fabrication of materials would be considered worthy of such veneration. Yet, gods, things placed before the One True God, come in many forms, forms in which mankind engineers them, forms in which you and I may be guilty of embracing as well. Yet, we would not so label ourselves as “fools”, but would justify the fabricated positions of our silly little gods.
It started out as a need. The tree will warm…it will heat food. It was given, in part, by the Divine to be used for such actions. But it cannot hear, see or think; it cannot decree or respond, it is matter, lifeless organic matter. We may find them, build them, or buy them, but our actions of worship, are just the same as the errant woodsman we find in these verses. The gods I sought for deliverance, for happiness, for prosperity, and for protection as well. We harvest it. Develop it. Adorn it and…sometimes, worship it. And it will always fail to deliver what the Lord can.
Is this descriptive of a primitive people; or does it apply to us?
“You shall have no other gods before Me” (Exodus 20:3).
Is this prescriptive of a primitive people; or does it apply to us?
You know the answer…
I know how it goes; those silly little gods creep in, sit quietly in the corner, and wait for an opportune time to slither to center stage in an attempt to eclipse God. Don’t let it happen. As David demonstrated, perhaps, an entreaty to the Divine is in order.
“Search me, O God, and know my heart!
Try me and know my thoughts!
And see if there be any grievous way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting!” (ESV: Psalm 139:23-24).
Always a good time to invite God to take inventory. Don’t you think?