December 18 in Advent

(If this day is the Fourth Sunday in Advent, please refer to that day

in the list of devotions.)

Isaiah 46:1-13

Only He Is God

“I am God, and there is no other; I am God and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘my counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,’ … I have spoken, and I will bring it to pass; I have purposed, and I will do it.”

Isaiah 46 is a chapter of comfort as it follows chapter 45 and the theme of God’s sovereignty, even adding irony to the mix.  It begins with a picture of Bel and Nebo, two of the chief gods of the Babylonians, being carried on beasts of burden.  If the beast stoops or stumbles, the idols fall.  Together, beast and idol go into captivity.  In contrast, the Lord of Israel has carried Israel from before birth, from the womb, even to old age: “I have made, and I will bear; I will carry, and will save.”  So the Lord of Israel, Maker of heaven and earth, has carried His people, while Bel and Nebo must be carried aloft and even fall into the dust.  Then the sheer stupidity of idolatry is shown: a rich man buys gold and silver that a goldsmith may fashion for him an idol.  He falls down and worships it, though it must be carried, though it must be set in its place, though it cannot move, though it cannot answer, though it cannot save.

And here is the essence of sin, even the primal sin.  Sin is ultimately idolatry.  It is the placing of myself in God’s stead and my saying to God, “I will have matters my way.”  God said, “You may partake of any tree in the garden, but not of that one.”  But I said, “I do not want the other trees in the garden; I will have that one.  God said, “You may have this woman to love and cherish for the rest of your life.”  But I said, “No, I’ll have this man’s wife as well.”  God said, “Be content with all the blessings I have bestowed upon you.”  But I said, “No. I must have more, even if that means others must go without.”  Sin is me shaking my fist at God and demanding my own way, putting myself on the pedestal, serving myself at the expense of others.  Idolatry is always self-worship, for we fashion the idol to suit our passions; that is, the idol we worship always looks a lot like ourselves as it approves our selfish desires and misdeeds.  Thus idolatry is rooted in pride as we say with Satan, “I will be God!”  And like Bel and Nebo, we stumble and fall. But the foolishness of such thinking is plainly obvious.  Peace comes to the trembling heart when it hears that there is one true God that has revealed Himself as the sovereign God of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hears, answers, guides, and saves.  He carries us, and on Him we wait.

Author: The Reformed Baptist

My name is Stephen Taylor, ordained Baptist minister of eighteen years pastoral experience with a Ph.D. in Historical Theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Better than that, I am married to a godly woman, Karla, who has been very patient with me since 1989. I have two daughters, both of whom I homeschooled for extended periods of time, who became godly young women, and who ran off and married godly young men, all of which is very proper. The oldest daughter has even seen fit to bless me with a grandson and a granddaughter, and my youngest daughter with a grandson, all three of whom are bundles of exceeding joy. As you can see, I am quite blessed. This website is dedicated to helping people grow in the wisdom and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ through the gift of writing that the Lord has given to me. It is specifically about helping His people grow in godliness, the theme you see repeated above. I write devotions with this aim and hope that they might be of some help to God’s people. Full disclosure: I am of a Reformed bent, meaning that my understanding of Scripture is primarily informed by the Reformers and their successors of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. However, as a student of church history and theology, I strive to remain true to that teaching handed down once for all unto the saints through every age of the Church. I like to think of myself as a “catholic” Christian, as the Reformers thought of themselves. At any rate, feel free to read, pray, and contact me if you wish, or correct me if need be. As you can see, I tend to follow the church year. Of course, I make no special claims about these devotions. I know very well that others have written better and plumbed the depths of God’s word with greater insight. But if my musings help someone draw closer to the Lord, well then, I have my reward. Blessings to you and may the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ speak to you that word which He knows you especially need to hear. Grace & peace, Stephen Taylor

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