(If this day is the Fourth Sunday in Advent, please refer to that day
in the list of devotions.)
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. This 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.