Friday after Epiphany

Isaiah 65:1-25

Idolatry Makes a Difference

I have entitled this devotion, “Idolatry Makes a Difference,” because that is ultimately what I think this chapter is about.  But first I have to begin where it begins because it anticipates, indeed, prophesies, what came to pass in the New Testament Church, spoken of by Paul in Acts 28 and Romans 10.

But before I speak of that, we must be honest, as the Church of Jesus Christ, about our own sin, and, bless God, much of the Church has, at least by now, done so.  No, I won’t apologize for the text, but I will confess our sin – and the sin I speak of is “anti-Semitism.”  Unfortunately, much of church history is filled with unspeakable crimes against the Jews, and that by twisting God’s holy word for justification (a terrible sin).  However, Christ, “himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility…,” through the cross (Ephesians 2:14-16).  Indeed, Paul calls the “mystery of Christ,” “that the Gentiles are fellow heirs” and “partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus” with, of course, the Jews (3:6).  Christians (most of which are not of Jewish descent) are not to hate anyone, but especially the Jews, who were before us in the faith, who regarding election “are beloved [by God] for the sake of their forefathers” (Romans 11:28).  None of this is to deny what happened: The Jews rejected the gospel which the gentiles embraced, which was prophesied by Isaiah in 65:1-2, and cited by Paul in Romans 10:20-21.  But that is all the more reason for us to pray daily for their conversion, for “how much more will their full inclusion mean!” (Romans 11:12).

And now I turn to the meat of the passage.  The sin that is highlighted is idolatry: “sacrificing in gardens, and making offerings on bricks; who sit in tombs, and spend the night in secret places … who set a table for Fortune and fill cups of mixed wine for Destiny.”  Idolatry is our primal sin – the putting of something else in place of God first in our hearts.  It is so foolish when we consider that only God is truly authentic – the self-existing One.  The rest of us are totally dependent on Him.  God (of Scripture – the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ) is what is left when everything else is removed.  Why do we settle for the counterfeit – like our enslaving obsessions and passions – when we could have God, who is all that really matters?  Those who make Him their obsession will eat, drink, rejoice, sing for gladness of heart, and bless God in the new heaven and earth that is coming.  Those who don’t, won’t, but will have all eternity to worship the passions of their flesh while gnashing with their teeth.

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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