Isaiah 44:9 All who make idols are nothing, and the things they delight in do not profit; their witnesses neither see nor know. And so they will be put to shame. 10 Who would fashion a god or cast an image that can do no good? …14 He cuts down cedars … Part of it he takes and warms himself; he kindles a fire and bakes bread. …17 The rest of it he makes into a god, his idol, bows down to it and worships it; he prays to it and says, “Save me, for you are my god!”
This word from the Lord via Isaiah seems to me to be dripping with sarcasm. Someone cut down a tree, used most of it for warming himself and cooking – then fashioned an idol with the rest and prayed to it. Two thoughts cross my mind as I read this.
First, let’s assume for the moment that people living in the ancient near East were at least as smart as we are. No intelligent person would make an idol with his own hands, pray to it, then lament when it offered no help. I’m thinking such idols were not understood to be gods themselves but were objects of focus for worship – much like a cross functions for Christians. We don’t worship the cross itself, but we might kneel before a cross as we pray to our Lord.
That said a “god” might well be defined as that in which we place our trust in times of trouble.
I have lots of resources available to me in times of trouble. I’m sure the same can be said of most of you as well. In a medical emergency I have hospitals and medical personnel of all kinds within a few minutes of my house. In a financial emergency I have various financial instruments and resources at the ready. In a professional emergency I have colleagues and regional/national organizations prepared to advise me. In a relational emergency there are counselors and therapists and networks of friends/loved ones to support me.
In fact, I often have so many other resources available… it doesn’t always occur to me to go to the Lord. In that sense, I’m little better than the man who makes a wooden god and worships it in a time of need. It’s just too easy to place my trust in something other than God. I’m seeing that today and asking the Lord to change my heart.
Gracious Lord, you know my sin and shortcomings. I want the resources you’ve given me to be a blessing and not a curse. Give me grace to approach You first and foremost when I’m in need – as a sign of worship and a recognition of my dependence on you. I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.