September 22, 2018
There is humor in the book of Isaiah.
Isaiah pokes fun at people who cannot think straight about reality. The following story is an example. A smile tickles my face every time I read it.
He wrote to people who have created “gods“ to worship. He shows contrast in chapter 44 between two aspects of their behavior. Don’t breeze through it. Let the picture he’s painting come to life for you.
Here is the quote (Isaiah 44:9 – 20)
All who make idols are nothing,
and what they treasure does not profit.
Their witnesses do not see or know anything,
so they will be put to shame.
Who makes a god or casts a metal image
for no profit?
Look, all its worshipers will be put to shame,
and the craftsmen are humans.
They all will assemble and stand;
they all will be startled and put to shame.
The ironworker labors over the coals,
shapes the idol with hammers,
and works it with his strong arm.
Also he grows hungry and his strength fails;
he doesn’t drink water and is faint.
The woodworker stretches out a measuring line,
he outlines it with a stylus;
he shapes it with chisels
and outlines it with a compass.
He makes it according to a human likeness,
like a beautiful person,
to dwell in a temple.
He cuts down cedars for his use,
or he takes a cypress or an oak.
He lets it grow strong among the trees of the forest.
He plants a laurel, and the rain makes it grow.
It serves as fuel for man.
He takes some of it and warms himself;
also he kindles a fire and bakes bread;
he even makes it into a god and worships it;
he makes an idol from it and bows down to it.
He burns half of it in a fire,
and he roasts meat on that half.
He eats the roast and is satisfied.
He warms himself and says, “Ah!
I am warm, I see the blaze.”
He makes a god or his idol with the rest of it.
He bows down to it and worships;
He prays to it, “Save me, for you are my god.”
Such people do not comprehend
and cannot understand,
for He has shut their eyes so they cannot see,
and their minds so they cannot understand.
No one reflects,
no one has the perception or insight to say,
“I burned half of it in the fire,
I also baked bread on its coals,
I roasted meat and ate.
I will make something detestable with the rest of it,
and I will bow down to a block of wood.”
He feeds on ashes.
His deceived mind has led him astray,
and he cannot deliver himself,
or say, “Isn’t there a lie in my right hand?”
He described with wonderment how a person can take a block of wood, use half of it to heat his food and warm his room, and use the other half to construct with great care a “god“. He says the people have no sense to understand that the same thing they burn for heat and fuel is the thing they are worshiping and saying “please save me”.
Just a block of wood.
We are too sophisticated these days I suppose to craft something that we would call a god. But I think we are quick to elevate things to worship status that are comparable in value to a block of wood.
There’s a strong human tendency to make things transcendent. We want transcendence. We are made to appreciate and desire transcendence.
In our culture we are in love with things that money can buy. We are in love with money. When we place such things at the center or top of our being and values, they are like blocks of wood. We attribute too much value to them. We expect them to “save us“.
Maybe we believe this will gain us more approval of other humans, or gain favor with God. Maybe we think our personal value will be enhanced.
These are blocks of wood which have no value, no power, do not change our human value, and which in the end will be swept away.
It is strange that we tend to attribute high value to worthless things. Meanwhile we miss the greatest values – values which come from the intangible, and which come from the Creator himself. We already have great value as humans because of who He is and what He’s done. But we decide to disbelieve it and try to find value in other ways.
What blocks of wood clutter your life? To what do you assign much time and value? It might be better for the long look to “burn” it in the fire of submission to God Almighty.