by Pastor Mark Hudson
In Isaiah 46, Isaiah contrasts the idols of the nations with the One true and living God. How counter-cultural that was in Isaiah’s day, in the first century, and in our day. God, through the prophet, is saying that the gods of the nations are not an alternate way to truth. Unbelievers have always thought people who think this way are arrogant, dismissive of other cultures, and self-righteous. We might be all those things. If we are, we should thank people who point that out, question ourselves if we are arrogant or self-righteous at times. Then repent. And then rely on Christ to do better but our sinfulness does not change what God says.
The key word in the first few verses is carry. In the idols case, the idols are carried around by their worshippers or carried around on beasts and livestock. They are carried by animals and people and are carried by people . . . into exile. Of course they are carried. They cannot move or carry others, let alone help other.
Be prepared for the criticism of Isaiah that he is confusing the idols itself with the God the idol represents. Scoffers claim Isaiah does not understand the difference. But clearly Isaiah understands the distinction. Yet, the idol was manufactured, and the gods were not able to deliver them and certainly could not predict the future.
Isaiah, beginning in verse 3 tells them the God carries them. Isaiah uses three different images: a father carrying a child (Dt. 1:31), a shepherd carrying a lamb (Ps. 28:9), and an eagle carrying eaglets (Ex 19:4; Dt 32:11). See also Is. 63:9. Look how tenderly God speaks to His people. I have borne you from before your birth. Borne you from the womb. Nor does God tire of carrying us. He will carry us to our gray hair and carry us into heaven. Notice the piling on of verbs in v. 4 I have mad, and I will bear; I will carry and will save.
God is pleading for His people to see that no one compares with Him. No one can predict the future v. 10. They need to recognize what we need to see. The gods that people worship – and they do worship – are futile. The American dream is empty. A life of more things will never satisfy. Having a following will not provide the hope we need. If you are a Christian, you know this. But unbelievers do not. They think we are deceived, and they are woke. They think they are enlightened, and we are following tradition or in the dark.
Believers have always been mocked, at times persecuted, sometimes killed. As bad as it can get, we need to keep our eyes on God. “remember this and stand firm, recall it to mind v. 8 and “Listen to Me, you stubborn of heart” v. 12. We need to remind ourselves of who God is and what He has done and will do.
As chaotic as the world may seem, God’s will is being done. “I have spoken, and I will bring it to pass; I have purposed, and I will do it” v. 11. This does not mean that God is pleased when certain things happen. God was not pleased, on one hand, with the wicked treatment of His beloved Son. “Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him; he has put him to grief” Is 53:10 states this with clarity. So those wicked men who nailed Him to the cross, who mocked Him, who hated Him will be judged yet they ultimately did His will.
God has used unrighteous and wicked rulers to accomplish his purpose in various times and diverse places. God can even use our sin for His greater purpose without ever once forcing us to sin. This does not mean we should sin since everything is under His sovereign control. However, all things are doing His bidding. There is not a maverick molecule. No one or no thing is out of His providence.
If you are discouraged or feeling listless, remember the God you worship created the world in six days out of nothing. If you feel overwhelmed by rejection or difficulties that will not just go away, recall that your God brought His people out of Egypt with a mighty hand. If you have lost or are losing your spouse, tell yourself that there is no marriage in heaven. That heaven will be so glorious, so awesome, so overwhelming exciting that you will never get over God’s grace. If you believe in Christ, you have a magnificent future.
“Father, I am so attached to this world. I forget I am an alien and stranger in this place. This is all I know, and I lack faith and imagination. I pity myself and forget what it took for You to endure the pain and suffering of the cross. Lift my eyes to You. Help Me to savor every bit of You, Your grace, Your mercy, and Your deep, deep love. If I truly understand who you are, I will not be envious of the wicked but will pity them. Open my eyes to adore and obey You. In the Name of the One who died but was raised from the dead, our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.