Bowing Down to a Block of Wood (Isaiah 43:22-44:23)
What is striking in this section is Isaiah’s depiction of idolatry. He points out how ridiculous it is to use half of a block of wood to provide fuel for the fire while fashioning an idol from the rest, and calling out to it for salvation. It does seem rather absurd when described this way.
Now, of course, it could be objected that the idol-worshipers in question didn’t really look at the block of wood as their god, but rather as a representation of their god. This is true to a certain extent. But Isaiah’s main point is that any god, no matter how depicted, cannot measure up to the true God, whose very real salvation is described in 44:1-5. Whether viewed as a block of wood, or a god represented by a block of wood, it is still a made-up god who cannot save.
Idolatry is alive and well in our western culture. Not the overt burning-incense-to-statues kind of idolatry. But the kind of idols that the human heart endlessly manufactures and bows down to. An idol is anything that we esteem higher than God, to whom we look for guidance instead of God, on whom we depend instead of God, which gives us fulfillment instead of God. You don’t have to watch too many commercials, or glance through too many magazines or web ads to see the worship of the idols of wealth, beauty, youth, pleasure, fame, power, and more. We (the culture) make up the definitions for these idols, set before us the goal for each, and then let it run our lives. Truly, it is idol worship. And when all is said and done, not much different from bowing down to a block of wood.
These idols cannot save any more than a block of wood. None will deliver on the promises that we imagine they are making to us. All will disappoint. And yet the lure of idolatry clings to our hearts and seeks to derail us in life.
So my prayer today flows from thinking about this passage along with the end of 1 John: “Dear children, keep yourselves from idols” (1 John 5:24). Once again, simply praying the Lord’s Prayer as a pattern is a good grounding in true worship and turning away from idolatry. Hallowed by the name of the Lord alone. May His kingdom come in my life. And may His will be done in me, through me, by me, and to me. For He is God alone. Amen.
(Sorry that the devotion has been rather sporadic lately. It is distributed electronically through our website, and we have been experiencing problems with the website.)
What is the Word leading you to pray about today?
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