Isaiah 44 Devotional
by Pastor David Groendyk
Have you heard the expression, “You are what you eat”? It’s a pithy saying that teaches us that our health is directly linked to what kind of food we eat. Well, there’s also a Christian version of that saying: “You become what you worship.” Isaiah 44 is a good reminder of that. All throughout this chapter, there is a play on the idea of creating, forming, fashioning, making, etc.
God forms us (vv. 2, 21, 24). Isaiah tells us multiple times in this chapter that God is responsible for knitting us together even while we’re in our mothers’ wombs. He knows us deeply and intimately, and he cares about us deeply and intimately. More than that, though, God forms us spiritually (vv. 3–4, 22). Beyond just constructing our physical bodies, God pours out his Spirit upon us and gives us spiritual life. He redeems us, blesses us, and causes us to grow in our faith and godly living. He makes us to bear fruit for his glory. The upshot of God forming us in both of these ways is that we belong to him (v. 5).
All of God’s work to form us is contrasted directly with idols. Humans love to form their own idols (vv. 12, 17–20). John Calvin is famous for calling the sinful human heart an “idol factory”. Any time that we treasure, live for, prioritize, or exult something in our lives above God, we have fashioned an idol just the same as when an ancient Hebrew carved a face in some wood. And here is where the real ridiculousness of idolatry comes in. If you as a mortal, finite, weak human being are able to form your own god, then what makes you think that that god could ever possibly deliver you from anything? Anything that is man-made will only ever have the strength and ability of a human being. Anything that is man-made will only ever have the stability and surety of a human being. How silly is it to base all of your security and safety in life on a bank account filled with money that you could lose at any moment? How silly is it to base your worth and value on having the fastest car, the newest phone, the biggest house, or the prettiest looks? None of those gods have any real power. And here is where the danger of idolatry comes in. Idols form us to be like them. Psalm 135:18 says that all who make idols and trust them will become like them. In what way? Idols cannot speak, cannot see, cannot hear, and cannot breathe; likewise, all who put their trust in idols will lose their ability to see, hear, and breathe spiritually. You do not want to be made into an idol! Your idol will end up owning you.
This chapter is structured so that it focuses on the contrast between God (vv. 6–8) and idols (vv. 9–20), and it makes us ask the question, “Who do you belong to?” Do you want God to be your God? Or do you want an idol to be your god? Do you want the all-powerful, Lord of hosts, Redeemer-King, the first and last to be your savior, guardian, and ruler? Or do you want a green piece of paper or shiny hunk of metal to be your king? Read Heidelberg Catechism Q&A #1 below, and think about this: Who do you want to belong to?
Q: What is your only comfort in life and in death?
A: That I am not my own, but belong—body and soul, in life and in death—to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ. He has fully paid for all my sins with his precious blood, and has set me free from the tyranny of the devil. He also watches over me in such a way that not a hair can fall from my head without the will of my Father in heaven: in fact, all things must work together for my salvation. Because I belong to him, Christ, by his Holy Spirit, assures me of eternal life and makes me wholeheartedly willing and ready from now on to live for him.