Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Isaiah, Chapter 44

Chapter 44 of Isaiah certainly takes on a different tone than some of the previous chapters. Instead of providing a warning or speaking in prophetic tone the author takes a position in defense of God. He attacks the other gods and false idols of the day as he defends God's position of authority. Basically, our author is calling out the religions and idols of other people and showing them that their gods and idols were powerless in the face of God. He even goes as far as to use sarcasm to show just how ludicrous people were in worshipping idols.

10 Who shapes a god and casts an idol,
       which can profit him nothing?

 11 He and his kind will be put to shame;
       craftsmen are nothing but men.
       Let them all come together and take their stand;
       they will be brought down to terror and infamy.

 12 The blacksmith takes a tool
       and works with it in the coals;
       he shapes an idol with hammers,
       he forges it with the might of his arm.
       He gets hungry and loses his strength;
       he drinks no water and grows faint.

 13 The carpenter measures with a line
       and makes an outline with a marker;
       he roughs it out with chisels
       and marks it with compasses.
       He shapes it in the form of man,
       of man in all his glory,
       that it may dwell in a shrine.

 14 He cut down cedars,
       or perhaps took a cypress or oak.
       He let it grow among the trees of the forest,
       or planted a pine, and the rain made it grow.

 15 It is man's fuel for burning;
       some of it he takes and warms himself,
       he kindles a fire and bakes bread.
       But he also fashions a god and worships it;
       he makes an idol and bows down to it.

 16 Half of the wood he burns in the fire;
       over it he prepares his meal,
       he roasts his meat and eats his fill.
       He also warms himself and says,
       "Ah! I am warm; I see the fire."

 17 From the rest he makes a god, his idol;
       he bows down to it and worships.
       He prays to it and says,
       "Save me; you are my god." – Isaiah 44:11-17

This passage does a good job of putting the practice of idol worship into perspective. Basically, the author is saying here that worshipping the idol and turning to it for guidance is the same as turning to the material it is made of for guidance. Here the material in question is wood. Isaiah asked the absurd question of whether someone would turn to a block of wood for guidance or salvation. That is what happens when we worship idols because the idols themselves have no power. How absurd would we be if we worshipped a block of wood? This carries over to today when people place too much faith in physical objects. How different is this from placing too much significance in a crucifix, or a rosary, or a stone like the Kabba?

We also have the potential to make certain things in our lives idols or false gods. Idols don't necessarily have to be made out of wood or stone. They can be other things like money, sex, power, or anything else we place too much emphasis on. For example, in high school I would say I had basketball as a false idol. For three years from late October until late March it consumed everything I was. I only went to school because it allowed me to be on the basketball team. I savored going to practice and games more than anything. Because we were a very good team losses were few, but when we did lose it affected my mood for days, especially if it was a tournament loss. Even now I still feel this somewhat, as Purdue's loss to Ohio State ruined my good mood and still has me feeling down this morning. I have realized though that this is not everything. I realize that my true strength and what defines me comes from God, and that is what Isaiah is trying to teach us here.


  1. What do you feel is your false God?
  2. Is Isaiah's use of sarcasm here more powerful?
  3. How is God like a rock when other idols fail?

No comments: