Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Monday, 23 September 19:
Isaiah 41:22-24 – “Let them bring them, and tell us what is to happen. Tell us the former things, what they are, that we may consider them, that we may know their outcome; or declare to us the things to come. Tell us what is to come hereafter, that we may know that you are gods; do good, or do harm, that we may be dismayed and terrified. Behold, you are nothing, and your work is less than nothing; an abomination is he who chooses you.”
After all of Isaiah 40 proclaims the Sovereignty and immeasurable Greatness of God — “Behold your God!”, Isaiah 41 proclaims the assurance we have in God — “I have chosen you and not cast you off; fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand…. For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, ‘Fear not, I am the one who helps you’…. I am the one who helps you, declares the Lord; your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel…. Fear not…. And you shall rejoice in the Lord; in the Holy One of Israel you shall glory.” (Isaiah 41:9, 10, 13, 14, 16)
Interestingly, after the Bible encourages us with the confidence we can have in our perfectly loving, omniscient, sovereign Creator and Redeemer, Isaiah 41 closes by reminding us of the futility of idols, those powerless things in which we tend to place our hope and serve ahead of God, those things which we tend to honor and oblige instead of devoting ourselves entirely to God and trusting Him completely. Though the proof of God is more than apparent (revealed in His creation, our conscience, His works, and His word) as well as the proof of the powerlessness of all man-made idols, God knows His people still need a constant reminder; God knows how prone we are in our sinful condition to be fearful and prideful and to turn to idols rather than to Him, to walk in the flesh rather than in the Spirit.
– 2 Corinthians 6:16 — What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, “I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
– Luke 16:13 — No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.
– 1 Corinthians 10:14 — Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.
“For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry.” (1 Samuel 15:23) Today, our idols are not likely represented by statues but rather revealed in what motivates us and influences our behavior more than God and His word, what we really prioritize each day ahead of God. These are they which cause us to say things like, “I just don’t have enough time today to really study my Bible, pray, and share Jesus with others,” or that prevent us from giving our time, talents and resources to the church and to people around us in need. Just like it is spelled, idolatry begins with “I” – “I want…. I deserve…. I think…. I believe…. I fear….” The heart of idolatry is self-centeredness, which is the original sin – “But the serpent said… You will not surely die…. You will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Genesis 3:4, 5) Idolatry replaces “Thy will be done,” with “My will be done,” and adds sorrow and pain to what God intended to be blessings – work, relationships, provisions, belongings, etc: “The blessing of the Lord makes rich, and he adds no sorrow with it.” (Proverbs 10:22)
When the powerless idol of self lets us down, we can become more fearful, prideful, bitter, angry, joyless, and isolated from God and from others; or we can repent of our sin and return to the Lord so we may experience love, peace, rest, and the fullness of joy in Him. Perhaps you needed Isaiah’s reminder this morning, “Behold your God!” Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23) Cast out your idols today by denying self, taking up your cross, following Jesus, obeying Him, and trusting Him through all circumstances. Christ is sufficient.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 23 September 19: Today, consider whether knowing and sharing Jesus is really your priority today (your focus, your motivation, your desire, your goal) or something else. Consider your idols, and pray that God will help you serve only Him as Master.