Isaiah Chapter 41
Lessons from the text
Making a god
In contrast to Israel, God describes a people who encourage each other to create idols. In those days, these were often statues that were worshipped. They had no power of their own, for they were the creation of man.
Consider: is there a difference between a fictional character and an idol?
Obviously, Buddha was a real person. Sherlock Holmes was not. Yet the Buddha who is worshipped is a fictitious character; he has been attributed qualities that he simply did not possess as well as had a whole world-view created around him. Nirvana is nothing more than the figment of the human imagination.
An afterlife when all you will do is think and never move is purely imaginative. It has no basis on experience, for no one from that religion has returned from the dead to tell us how it is. It has no transcendental evidence for no one has reached Nirvana and transcended into a purely spiritual being. No one has heard form Buddha since he died. He has not proven that he had any divine powers in life and now that he is dead has not intervened in human history to display his authority.
The Lord, however, has throughout time made plain his existence. The flood, the plagues of Egypt, the parting of the Red Sea, and the supernatural survival of the Jewish nation are facts that no one can disprove. In fact, people do not deny that Jesus lived; they just deny His divinity. But unlike Buddha, Jesus has proven His divinity. You can literally talk to and feel a living Jesus within your soul but you cannot reach Buddha; he’s dead.
People choose to follow a god that has been created by man’s imagination, giving qualities that someone images a god should have or attributing spiritual truths about life and the afterlife that seem appealing to that person. But God is not created; He is the Creator. He informs us of truth, proving His sovereignty through His intervention in human history. Why believe in a created, imaginary god when there is a living, real God?
Verse by Verse Commentary
1 Continuing from chapter 40, God commands His people to be silent before Him. In stillness, one can be renewed by the Spirit of God. He desires one to shut out the world and draw near to Him. To enter into judgment is to reach a conclusion about a matter. Be it the state of one’s soul or issues in one’s life, God desires us to be reconciled to Him.
2-4 As encouragement for people to draw near to Him, God reminds man of His ability to exalt and save. When God is on one’s side, one’s enemies have to flee.
5-7 When God exalts His people, it is a witness to all the world of His power and authority. Considering the contrast to follow, the workman of these verses are not working for the Lord. Instead, this is a description of those who make graven images and have to hammer their gods in place so they do not move. See verse 19 and 20 of the previous chapter.
8-13 The Jews are special. The line of Abraham is the only peoples ever to be given the promise of God’s blessing on those who bless them and God’s curse on those who curse them (Gen 12:3). When one is born again, one is grafted into Israel and thus made a joint heir to this promise (Rom 17:11).
14 Even though the Jews are a special people, they are still worms compared to God. Compare with Psalm 22:6 and Mark 9:43-44.
15 God will enable His believers to beat down mountains. See Matthew 17:20. Noteworthy is that God will be performing those things—man does not have the ability to accomplish the work of salvation.
16 One has complete victory in God. When one accepts His salvation, one is able to scatter one’s enemies like chaff in the wind. These enemies are not other humans but spiritual enemies. See Ephesians 6:16.
17-20 God delights in not only meeting the needs of others but also in meeting them overabundantly. He likes to take what could not possibly amount to anything and cause it to grow. This display of grace is a witness to all that He created the world and desires to see it thrive.
21-23 God challenges the idols made by man to do the things that He is capable of doing. People today understand that a tree cannot possibly create new things, tell the secrets of the past, or proclaim the future. God decrees that if it could do such things, then it could be a god. Of course, a tree is just a tree. A statue is just a statue.
24 Those who choose to worship idols have turned from the One who is able to do all things and accepted something that can do nothing. Choosing to believe in nonsense, they are an abomination to God.
25 In response to man’s idolatry, God will raise up a destroyer who will conquer the mighty as if they are nothing.
26-29 God repeats His challenge to the idols and finds that they can not answer Him. Being man’s creation and having no life of their own, no statue can defend itself to God. Further, the worshippers and wise men who follow these false gods can not meet God’s challenge. In short, no one but God can see the future and proclaim righteousness. To trust in anything else for guidance is confusion and is pointless.
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