He said of Israel: "They are full of superstitions from the East; they practice divination like the Philistines and clasp hands with pagans. Their land is full of silver and gold; there is no end to their treasures. Their land is full of horses; there is no end to their chariots" (Is. 2:6-7).
In the first words of verse 6, Isaiah wrote, "You have abandoned Your people." Isaiah concluded that he saw no sign of God's presence there.
God had promised not to abandon them, and He didn't. But where sin is rampant He is certainly capable of removing the signs of His presence.
The nation of Israel had been given everything, yet they refused to receive and be satisfied. They traded in what their hearts could know for what their eyes could see.
Isaiah reminds us that a person's idols can profit him nothing and will ultimately reap shame (Is. 44:10-11). He gives us several glimpses at the destructiveness of idols.
In Isaiah 44:12, he wrote, "The blacksmith takes a tool and works with it in the coals; he shapes an idol with hammers, he forges it with the might of his arm. He gets hungry and loses his strength; he drinks no water and grows faint." People can become so engrossed in their idols that they no longer pay attention to their physical needs.
According to Isaiah, idols can also take the form of humans. "[The carpenter] shapes it in the form of man, of man in all his glory, that it may dwell in a shrine" (v. 13). We can apply this point literally. At some time each of us has exalted someone to a place where only God belonged.
Even after such a catalog of idolatry, God promised, "'I will not forget you'" (v. 21). The mercy of God is indescribable, isn't it?
He swept away their offenses like a cloud, their sins like the morning mist. As we face some of the idols we have worshiped in our quest for satisfaction, we need never doubt the mercy of God. He asks one thing: "'Return to Me, for I have redeemed you'" (v. 22).
There is a strong tie between our quest for satisfaction and the worship of idols. This is due to the fact that the void God created in our lives for Himself will demand attention.
Filling the Void
We look desperately for something to satisfy us and fill the empty places. Our craving is so strong that the moment something or someone seems to meet our need, we feel an overwhelming temptation to worship it.
In my opinion, one of the most thought-provoking verses in Isaiah 44 is verse 20. Read it carefully: "He feeds on ashes, a deluded heart misleads him; he cannot save himself, or say, 'Is not this thing in my right hand a lie!'"
Fresh conviction washes over me like a squall. How many times have I fed on ashes instead of feasting on the life-giving Word of God?
How many times has my deluded heart misled me? How many times have I tried to save myself?
I could fall on my face at this moment and praise God through all eternity for finally awakening me to say, "This thing in my right hand is a lie."
I can remember one thing in particular I held on to with a virtual death grip. I also remember the harrowing moment God opened my eyes to see what a lie I had believed. I cried for days.
I originally thought this lie was a good thing. My heart, handicapped in childhood, had deluded me. Although I didn't realize it at the time, I eventually worshiped it.
My only consolation in my idolatry is that I finally allowed Him to peel away my fingers and, to my knowledge, I have grasped only His hand since.
I plunged to the depths before I discovered satisfaction. And I pray to settle for nothing less the rest of my days.
I am very aware that Satan will constantly cast idols before me. But I hope never to forget that I could fall again.
Beloved, whatever we are gripping to bring us satisfaction is a lie—unless it is Christ. He is the Truth that sets us free (John 8:32).
We easily can be led into captivity by seeking other answers to needs and desires that only God can meet. Perhaps you've experienced an empty place deep inside that you tried your best to ignore or to fill with something other than God.
If you are holding anything in your craving for satisfaction right now, would you be willing to acknowledge it as a lie? Would you lift it before Him and confess it as an idol?
God does not condemn you. He calls you.
Will you open your hand to Him? He is opening His to you.
Beth Moore is a writer and teacher of best-selling Bible studies whose public speaking engagements carry her all over the world. She's also the founder of Living Proof Ministries. A dedicated wife and mother of two, Moore lives in Houston with her husband, Keith.
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