The Punch Line
Lord Jesus, I look to You today and ask to realize Your loving presence and leading in my life.
Read Isaiah 44:9-23
 All who make idols are nothing, and the things they treasure are worthless. Those who would speak up for them are blind; they are ignorant, to their own shame.  Who shapes a god and casts an idol, which can profit nothing?  People who do that will be put to shame; such craftsmen are only human beings. Let them all come together and take their stand; they will be brought down to terror and shame.  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.  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 human form, human form in all its glory, that it may dwell in a shrine.  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.  It is used as 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.  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.”  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!”  They know nothing, they understand nothing; their eyes are plastered over so they cannot see, and their minds closed so they cannot understand.  No one stops to think, no one has the knowledge or understanding to say, “Half of it I used for fuel; I even baked bread over its coals, I roasted meat and I ate. Shall I make a detestable thing from what is left? Shall I bow down to a block of wood?”  Such a person feeds on ashes; a deluded heart misleads him; he cannot save himself, or say, “Is not this thing in my right hand a lie?”  “Remember these things, Jacob, for you, Israel, are my servant. I have made you, you are my servant; Israel, I will not forget you.  I have swept away your offenses like a cloud, your sins like the morning mist. Return to me, for I have redeemed you.”  Sing for joy, you heavens, for the LORD has done this; shout aloud, you earth beneath. Burst into song, you mountains, you forests and all your trees, for the LORD has redeemed Jacob, he displays his glory in Israel. Scripture taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, NIV Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectHow does the prophet mock idols and compare them to God?
Here, Isaiah mines a rich vein of humor as he mocks idol worshipers. Like a stand-up comedian, he starts with a simple idea (9) and develops it systematically, making it more and more ridiculous. How could anyone in their right mind attribute divinity to a block of wood which is used for fuel for the fire and the oven, and which has grown from a tree planted by the worshiper himself? The whole idea is comical in the extreme. As Isaiah brings this to a conclusion, his entire audience applauds the realization of the idol worshiper: “Is not this thing in my right hand a lie?” (20). And then, just as everyone enjoys sharing the joke, the prophet drives home his devastating point (21): as the idol is to the pagan, so are you to God. He made you. If it is stupid to be devoted to a block of wood, why should God be devoted to you? And yet, says the Lord, “I will not forget you.” With great tenderness he appeals, “Return to me, for I have redeemed you” (22). So the passage concludes with an outburst of joyful praise from the whole of creation, including the trees (23)!
We become like the object of our worship (Psa. 135:18). What is taking your attention and devotion at the moment?
Great Lord God, I want to worship You alone and become more like You as I do.
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