Consult together, argue your case, and state your proofs that idol worship pays. Who made these things known long ago? What idol ever told you they would happen? Was it not I, the LORD? For there is no other God but me – a just God and a Savior – no, not one!
– Isaiah 45:21 (NLT)
I stumbled upon this passage in Isaiah tonight. I find the passages in Scripture such as this one where God engages His people in debate intriguing and powerful.
Here God seems to be nearly smacking us over the head, as if to say “are you guys nuts?!”. Frankly, in my observation, fallen humanity is nuts. I’ve marvelled at the crazy behavior of even the relatively sane people around me, and I don’t fare well either in this analysis. We humans have this mad tendency to set up our own gods. This isn’t a post where I plan on listing the evils of modern idol worship – the worship of money or pleasure or sports teams or fill-in-the-blank. I only make the observation that not much has changed in the last 2700 years since Isaiah penned these words. The human race still runs after idols at the drop of a hat – and usually we are the ones dropping the hat. Will we ever learn?
We can learn if we will just listen to the Lord. He continues, inviting, ever inviting us back to reason and to Him.
Let all the world look to me for salvation! For I am God; there is no other. I have sworn by my own name, and I will never go back on my word: Every knee will bow to me, and every tongue will confess allegiance to my name.”
I find in that last declaration several pivotal truths. First, God is not kidding – we can chase after idols as much as we want, we can be angry with God, we can shake our fist at Him or bargain with Him like He was some petty diety. We can pay Him lipservice one hour a week and live like hades the other 167. We can ignore Him in times of plenty, taking the credit for our own good fortune, and then complain to Him when times are tough. We can do all these things, but it won’t change the central Truth of the universe: there will come a day when every knee will bow, and every tongue will confess. This will happen – He has sworn it by His own name and has made very clear that He will not go back on His word.
And, not only will we bow and confess, some of us will also finally get our theology right:
The people will declare, “The LORD is the source of all my righteousness and strength.”
Yes He is. He is the Source of anything good or strong residing in me or you, much like an artist is the source of the beauty on a canvas. Paul takes up this theme in the second chapter of Ephesians, reminding us that we are God’s workmanship, created for the good works in Christ that God had in mind before He created the world. Today I was thinking about the artistry of God and His workmanship in our lives – what can we do but praise Him when we think of his patience and care in molding us, often painfully, into creatures that will truly reflect His glory?
Paul takes up the soaring refrain of Isaiah 45 in the second chapter of Philippians. Written anno dominie, Paul has the blessed advantage of knowing the One whom Isaiah could only glimpse dimly from his vantage point pre-Christ.
God raised him up to the heights of heaven and gave him a name that is above every other name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
“. . . to the glory of God the Father.”
Amen – may it be so.