Israel’s God is a powerful redeemer. In our text for this evening Isaiah paints a picture of a the true and living God, and the powerlessness of idols. It is a lesson the Church needs to be taught from time-to-time. he prophet introduces this theme (44:6-8) by exalting Jehovah as king and redeemer of Israel, and the one eternal living God, who founded Israel and revealed himself to him as his impregnable Rock.
“This is what the LORD says— Israel’s King and Redeemer, the LORD Almighty: I am the first and I am the last; apart from me there is no God. Who then is like me? Let him proclaim it. Let him declare and lay out before me what has happened since I established my ancient people, and what is yet to come— yes, let him foretell what will come. Do not tremble, do not be afraid. Did I not proclaim this and foretell it long ago? You are my witnesses. Is there any God besides me? No, there is no other Rock; I know not one.” (Isaiah 44:6–8, NIV84)
After proclaiming the glory, and majesty and power of the Lord Almighty, the prophet turns his attention toward the idols that Israel is so prone to worship. He reminds them of the shame of idol worship. He reminds them of the folly of idol worship. Why would the people of God turn their backs on the Lord Almighty to worship such insignificant imposters? He gets the heart of the issue in verse 20: “ ... a deluded heart misleads him; he cannot save himself, or say, “Is not this thing in my right hand a lie?” (Isaiah 44:20, NIV84)
As we shall see, Isaiah’s attack against idolatry is a satirical description of the manufacture of idols. Idols were constructed by clumsy tools and weak workmen. The same wood used to make an idol is used to make fires for cooking. Those who worshiped idols practiced grand self-deception.
Isaiah tells Israel that while the heathen fashioned their gods, Yahweh fashioned his people. They must ever remember their calling as God’s servant. God had not forgotten his people. In his grace he would blot out their sins. God therefore invites his people to respond to that grace by returning to him with all their heart. The undeserved redemption of Israel called forth universal praise to the Lord (44:21–23).
What must you do if you’ve set up idols in your heart? The answer comes from an OT passage. Israel had set up idols throughout the land. It was a low-point in the life of the nation. Manasseh, the king, experienced a spiritual awakening and his eyes were opened to the ungodly corruption and moral depravity which had consumed the nation because of idolatry. His response was to take the idols that had been set up in the Temple of God and cast the out of the city. He then repaired the altar of God and offered sacrifice.
“He got rid of the foreign gods and removed the image from the temple of the LORD, as well as all the altars he had built on the temple hill and in Jerusalem; and he threw them out of the city. Then he restored the altar of the LORD and sacrificed fellowship offerings and thank offerings on it, and told Judah to serve the LORD, the God of Israel.” (2 Chronicles 33:15–16, NIV84)
You must do the same ...
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:1–2, NIV84)