Where Does Salvation Lie?

Isaiah 44:9-20

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. Who fashions a god or casts an idol that is profitable for nothing?  Behold, all his companions shall be put to shame, and the craftsmen are only human. Let them all assemble, let them stand forth. They shall be terrified; they shall be put to shame together.

The ironsmith takes a cutting tool and works it over the coals. He fashions it with hammers and works it with his strong arm. He becomes hungry, and his strength fails; he drinks no water and is faint.  The carpenter stretches a line; he marks it out with a pencil. He shapes it with planes and marks it with a compass. He shapes it into the figure of a man, with the beauty of a man, to dwell in a house.  He cuts down cedars, or he chooses a cypress tree or an oak and lets it grow strong among the trees of the forest. He plants a cedar and the rain nourishes it.  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. 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.  No one considers, nor is there knowledge or discernment to say, “Half of it I burned in the fire; I also baked bread on its coals; I roasted meat and have eaten. And shall I make the rest of it an abomination? Shall I fall down before a block of wood?”  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?”

The English Standard Version of the Bible titles these verses: The Folly of Idolatry”.

Isaiah speaks of how we take man-made objects and give them powers they do not possess.  We turn them into false gods that meet our human expectations.  We do this today just as it was done in the time of Isaiah.  It is done within the conventional organized religions, where symbols are professed to deliver us from evil.  And there are those who claim that some man-made objects can possess evil powers.  These are obvious examples of idolatry.  But many of us fall to the folly of idolatry in a more subtle manner.

Isaiah talks of the craftsmen who shape the objects of nature into a god that people then fall down and worship.  We do the same today.

The engineer designs, the craftsmen and operators assemble a consumable object with a name and logo.  We then dedicate our lives to obtaining the man-made object, forsaking reason to possess these idols.  We give them power over us, a power that causes us to not only forsake reason, but God and family for the false hope these objects give to us.

The modern day priests and leaders preach to us of the necessity of these idols.  We are bombarded with images of their perception of happiness and fulfillment.  They tell us these idols, these false gods, possess the power to fulfill our lives and make it meaningful.  The idols will make us attractive, popular and happy, for you will be the envy of those who do not possess these man-made gods.

Isaiah is also telling us that in the process of making these gods, we completely miss the works of God that are right in front of us.

In verse 14 Isaiah talks about the cedars.  The cedars were not made by man and neither was the rain which nourishes them and helps them to grow strong and tall.  Isaiah speaks of the forces of God that can take a seed only a few millimeters in size and have it grow into a tree over 100 feet tall.

We can then cut down this miracle of God and use it to warm us, cook our food, and build our homes.  And using the skills given to us by God, we take what is leftover and carve some strange half man half cow figure and then say to ourselves here is where my salvation lies.

In verses 18 and 19 Isaiah tells us just how ignorant we are with this line of thought.

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.  No one considers, nor is there knowledge or discernment to say, “Half of it I burned in the fire; I also baked bread on its coals; I roasted meat and have eaten. And shall I make the rest of it an abomination? Shall I fall down before a block of wood?”

After all that God has given to the world, and all that God has given to us, we look at an object made by man and say; ah, here in lies my salvation.

In verse 20 Isaiah sums it up.

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?”

Your soul is being starved, your heart is empty and you are blinded by covetousness.  You do not realize that what you hold in your hand is not happiness or salvation.  It’s just a man-made piece of crap that has led you away from the salvation of God.

© Otis P Smith and About the Groove, 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Otis P Smith and About the Groove with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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