Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel, And his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts: I am the First and I am the Last; Besides Me there is no God. Isaiah 44:6
The living God has chosen, formed and given birth to Israel. He is her only source of help. How foolish then to turn from the Rock, who can protect his people, to worship dumb, blind, and hollow idols.
Isaiah’s graphic description in this chapter is the OT’s most scathing denunciation of the foolishness of idolatry. An artisan cuts down a tree, burns some for warmth, more to bake his bread, and from the rest carves an idol for worship, begging it, “Save me; you are my god!” How glorious God stands in contrast to idols: the God who formed all peoples against the gods that people form!
What empty things do people today count on to save them from troubles and dangers? Why is it as foolish today to trust something other than God?
Key verse. 44:6: It is utter foolishness to trust in anything but God.
Personal application. A modern man’s idols can be CDs and stocks.
Idolatry 44:6-23 Idolatry dominated the ancient world, not only in OT times but in NT times as well. Some idol worshipers were superstitious, viewing their figures of wood, stone, or metals as deities themselves. Some idol worshipers were sophisticated, seeing the figures they bowed down to as representations of invisible spiritual beings. But idolatry in any form involved an explicit denial of the Creator.
Paul argues that the basic truth about God is made plain in Creation and that the slide into idolatry is a consequence of rejecting the true God (Rom. 1:18ff). Here in Isa., however, the Lord’s scathing contempt for idolatry is expressed in mockery of the “wisdom” of human beings who cut down a tree, burn soe of it as fuel, make a few utensils for the home, fashion an idol from the leftovers, and then pray to that idol to deliver them. Only a God who lives, who is capable of action, and who cares, could possibly help anyone – then, or now.
A detestable thing 44:19 The Hebrew word, siqqus, is a strong word which links idolatry to immoral practices. It is intended to express the fact that religious sins, which involve active rebellion and rejection of God, are extremely wicked.
And no one considers in his heart, Nor is there knowledge nor understanding to say, “I have burned half of it in the fire, Yes, I have also baked bread on its coals; I have roasted meat and eaten it; And shall I make the rest of it an abomination? Shall I fall down before a block of wood?” 44:19
The LORD the Only God
44 1 “Yet hear now, O Jacob My servant, And Israel whom I have chosen. 2 Thus says the Lord who made you And formed you from the womb, who will help you: ‘Fear not, O Jacob My servant; And you, Jeshurun, whom I have chosen. 3 For I will pour water on him who is thirsty, And floods on the dry ground; I will pour My Spirit on your descendants, And My blessing on your offspring; 4 They will spring up among the grass Like willows by the watercourses.’ 5 One will say, ‘I am the Lord’s’; Another will call himself by the name of Jacob; Another will write with his hand, ‘The Lord’s,’ And name himself by the name of Israel. 6 “Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel, And his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts: ‘I am the First and I am the Last; Besides Me there is no God. 7 And who can proclaim as I do? Then let him declare it and set it in order for Me, Since I appointed the ancient people. And the things that are coming and shall come, Let them show these to them. 8 Do not fear, nor be afraid; Have I not told you from that time, and declared it? You are My witnesses. Is there a God besides Me? Indeed there is no other Rock; I know not one.’ “
The Folly of Idolatry
9 Those who make an image, all of them are useless, And their precious things shall not profit; They are their own witnesses; They neither see nor know, that they may be ashamed. 10 Who would form a god or mold an image That profits him nothing? 11 Surely all his companions would be ashamed; And the workmen, they are mere men. Let them all be gathered together, Let them stand up; Yet they shall fear, They shall be ashamed together. 12 The blacksmith with the tongs works one in the coals, Fashions it with hammers, And works it with the strength of his arms. Even so, he is hungry, and his strength fails; He drinks no water and is faint. 13 The craftsman stretches out his rule, He marks one out with chalk; He fashions it with a plane, He marks it out with the compass, And makes it like the figure of a man, According to the beauty of a man, that it may remain in the house. 14 He cuts down cedars for himself, And takes the cypress and the oak; He secures it for himself among the trees of the forest. He plants a pine, and the rain nourishes it. 15 Then it shall be for a man to burn, For he will take some of it and warm himself; Yes, he kindles it and bakes bread; Indeed he makes a god and worships it; He makes it a carved image, and falls down to it. 16 He burns half of it in the fire; With this half he eats meat; He roasts a roast, and is satisfied. He even warms himself and says, “Ah! I am warm, I have seen the fire.” 17 And the rest of it he makes into a god, His carved image. He falls down before it and worships it, Prays to it and says, “Deliver me, for you are my god!” 18 They do not know nor understand; For He has shut their eyes, so that they cannot see, And their hearts, so that they cannot understand. 19 And no one considers in his heart, Nor is there knowledge nor understanding to say, “I have burned half of it in the fire, Yes, I have also baked bread on its coals; I have roasted meat and eaten it; And shall I make the rest of it an abomination? Shall I fall down before a block of wood?” 20 He feeds on ashes; A deceived heart has turned him aside; And he cannot deliver his soul, Nor say, “Is there not a lie in my right hand?”
The LORD the Redeemer of Israel
21 “Remember these, O Jacob, And Israel, for you are My servant; I have formed you, you are My servant; O Israel, you will not be forgotten by Me! 22 I have blotted out, like a thick cloud, your transgressions, And like a cloud, your sins. Return to Me, for I have redeemed you.” 23 Sing, O heavens, for the Lord has done it! Shout, you lower parts of the earth; Break forth into singing, you mountains, O forest, and every tree in it! For the Lord has redeemed Jacob, And glorified Himself in Israel.