A Study of Isaiah 44:20
“He feedeth on ashes: a deceived heart hath turned him aside, that he cannot deliver his soul, nor say, is there not a lie in my right hand?”
In our “enlightened” age we might look with amusement on those who would hew out an idol of stone or wood and then fall down and worship it. Yet the reality of “idol worship” is actually as much with us today as it was in more primitive times. While it would seem odd in our society, to see someone prostrate themselves before some statue or totem pole, idolatry is still very prevalent, perhaps even more so than in ancient times. The real error of idolatry is not found in the fashioning of a piece of wood, stone, or metal but in the mind which believes it can shape and fashion GOD according to its own design and in giving misplaced devotion to objects(or ideas) which the flesh delights in.
The natural man is a religious creature and is not opposed to having a god as long as he maintains control over that god. However an unregenerate man will not seek out the true GOD and even worse cannot discern that the gods that he chooses are no gods at all, (“he cannot deliver his soul, nor say, is there not a lie in my right hand”). Men will go to great lengths of service and devotion to those gods which they fashion and will defend them even unto death (see Isaiah 44:9-19; I Kings 18:28).
Men are most comfortable with a god who can be defined and understood. As long as there are limitations and definable parameters which encompass his actions, then he poses no real threat to their happiness. It is amazing that the god of most men and women somehow always seems to think like they do. The things that they want are the very things god seems to want them to have. As astounding as it may seem, god even adopts their value system. There are prevailing notions about the nature of god that are seemingly universal among most of mankind.
The idol gods will value the good deeds that men have done and will weigh them in a balance against any sins they may have committed, in essence overlooking their sin. How often have we heard someone say, with great satisfaction, “well I just try to do the best I can.”? Speaking of the true GOD,Job said, “If I sin, then thou markest me, and thou wilt not acquit me from mine iniquity.” (Job 10:14) Of the same ONE, David said, “The foolish shall not stand in thy sight: thou hatest all workers of iniquity.” (Psalms 5:5)
The idol gods will allow men to make “sacrifices”, or do “penance”, or extend extra devotion to religious things to pay for their bad deeds, the equivalent of “make up work” after a missed assignment.
“And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.”
(1 Samuel 15:22)
David, referring to the LORD said, “For THOU desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: THOU delightest not in burnt offering.”(Psalms 51:16)
The idol gods will always be where their followers want them to be and will be at the beck and call of those worshippers. Job tells us of the true and living GOD when he said “Behold, I go forward, but HE is not there; and backward, but I cannot perceive HIM: On the left hand, where HE doth work, but I cannot behold HIM: HE hideth HIMSELF on the right hand, that I cannot see HIM: But HE knoweth the way that I take “ (Job 23:8-10).
Solomon, speaking as the church , said, “I opened to my BELOVED; but my BELOVED had withdrawn HIMSELF, and was gone: my soul failed when HE spake: I sought HIM, but I could not find HIM; I called HIM, but HE gave me no answer.” (Song of Solomon 5:6)
The idol gods will always be limited by the “freewill” of man. Unless men “allow” them to work they will not be able to do anything. David said, “THY people shall be willing in the day of THY power “ (Psalms 110:3) and “Our GOD is in the heavens: HE hath done whatsoever HE hath pleased” (Psalms 115:3)
We must bow down before the true and living GOD who is not fashioned in any way by the hands or ideas of men. HE has no limitations. HE answers to no one. HE sets all things in motion. HE needs no advice and asks none. HE will only be worshipped according to the dictates that HE sets down. HE will determine the severity of punishment to be meted out for sin. HE will set the bounds of our habitation. HE has no obligation to show any form of mercy to any of HIS creation. HE will dictate the provision and terms of any means of redemption for men. HE will determine the revelation of truth that HE gives to men. (see II Corinthians 4:6)
“For thus saith the LORD that created the heavens; GOD himself that formed the earth and made it; HE hath established it, HE created it not in vain, HE formed it to be inhabited: I am the LORD; and there is none else. I have not spoken in secret, in a dark place of the earth: I said not unto the seed of Jacob, Seek ye me in vain: I the LORD speak righteousness, I declare things that are right. Assemble yourselves and come; draw near together, ye that are escaped of the nations: they have no knowledge that set up the wood of their graven image, and pray unto a god that cannot save. Tell ye, and bring them near; yea, let them take counsel together: who hath declared this from ancient time? who hath told it from that time? have not I the LORD? and there is no GOD else beside me; a just GOD and a SAVIOR; there is none beside me. Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am GOD, and there is none else.”
Praise HIS name forever!
By M. McInnis