Thursday, June 25, 2015

Idolatry? Here? || analyzing the human heart

In Isaiah 44, the prophet Isaiah speaks to the people and rebukes their idolatry. Now you might say, "Idolatry, I understand that happened in other countries, other nations, and in other points in history. But there is no idolatry now, is there?" 

Well, every day in a thousand ways I am tempted to make myself the center of the universe. I am tempted to make my problems, pains, desires, top priorities in my life. A priority over Christ. I become my own idol.

And then there are other kinds of idols. The idol of materialism, the idol of sex, the idol of significance, the idol of wealth, and so many others that are characterized and baptized into orthodoxy within the framework of contemporary culture. 
Isaiah 44:6 says, "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."
What a staggering claim into our post-modern thinking. "I am the first and I am the last; besides me there is no god."
"... Is there a God besides me? There is no Rock; I know not any." -Isaiah 44:8
In Isaiah 44, verses nine through eighteen, Isaiah speaks on the folly of idolatry.
"All who fashion idols are nothing, and the things they delight in do not profit. Their witnesses neither see nor know, that they may be put to shame." -Isaiah 44:9
And then Isaiah says, the person that shapes a god and casts an idol, will profit him nothing and he and his kind will be put to shame. Craftsman are nothing but men. Let them all come together and take their stand. They will all be brought to terror and to infamy (Isaiah 44:10-11). 

And then Isaiah goes down the line (He is having fun with this, as you see he illustrates it with metaphor and simile) and says look at man as he works with his chisels and his compasses, as he forms these things and puts them in shrines and so, goes out in the forest and gets a block of wood (Isaiah 44:12-14). But look, in verse fifteen it's man's fuel for burning: "Then it becomes fuel for a man. He takes a part of it and warms himself; he kindles a fire and bakes bread. Also he makes a god and worships it; he makes it an idol and falls down before it" (Isaiah 44:15). 
"Half of it he burns in the fire. Over the half he eats meat; he roasts it and is satisfied. Also he warms himself and says, “Aha, I am warm, I have seen the fire!” And the rest of it he makes into a god, his idol, and falls down to it and worships it. He prays to it and says, “Deliver me, for you are my god!” They know not, nor do they discern, for he has shut their eyes, so that they cannot see, and their hearts, so that they cannot understand." -Isaiah 44:16-18
Now look at this wonderful line here, verse nineteen: "No one stops to think..." Twentieth century left us a legacy, if you like, ugly twins: mindlessness and meaninglessness. How does this feel to you? What does this mean to you? Which side steps any notions of truth? 

But when you come to the Bible, it confronts us all the time. No one stops to think, no one has the knowledge or understanding to say, "Wait a minute, half of this I use for a fire, I bake bread over its coals, I roasted the meat and I ate it. Shall I make a detestable thing from what is left? Shall I bow down to a block of wood?" (Isaiah 44:19).
"He feeds on ashes; a deluded heart has led him astray, and he cannot deliver himself or say, 'Is there not a lie in my right hand?'” -Isaiah 44: 20
Now it is in contrast to that, that the Bible confirms that Jesus is the source, the sustainer, and the goal of all created reality. This is a staggering claim, but this is Biblical Christianity. 
"He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth..." -Colossians 1:15-17
"There is not one inch in the entire area of the human life about which Jesus does not cry, 'This is Mine. This belongs to me!'" -Abraham Kuyper
What are you putting your faith in?
Are there idols in your life that you have been holding on to? 

All text from a post originally written in 2012, updated in 2015 © Footprints in the Sand, inspiration from Alistair Begg's sermon Jesus Our King part 1 | Image © 2015 Charity Klicka, taken of the Houses of Parliament in London, England.

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