The Only God and the Absurdity of Idolatry (Isaiah 44:6-23) May 11
In verses 6-8, God declares that there is no other God. The Jews use these verses to deny the deity of Jesus Christ. "Orthodox" Christians use them to argue that God the Father and Jesus Christ are one singular being. But these verses do not support either premise. Rather, God the Father and Jesus Christ do indeed constitute one God—but that one God is the God family. The word Elohim, as mentioned in the previous reading's highlights, is a noun that is plural in form but often singular in usage, denoting, along with other evidence, that more than one being constitutes the one God. Apart from the true God family, there are no other gods. That is the point of these verses. To learn more about this subject, request or download our free booklet Who Is God?
Much of the rest of chapter 44 deals with the folly of idolatry. The NIV Study Bible points out in reference to verse 13 that, "man was made in the image of God…but an idol is made in the image of man." In Romans 1:23 Paul stated that idolaters had exchanged "the glory of the incorruptible God" into the images of various things, including that of "corruptible man."
The description of the craftsman who uses part of a tree to warm himself and cook his food, while worshiping the rest as a god is particularly graphic and even amusing (verses 13-17). Indeed, we can really see God's sense of humor here, as He describes the scene (verse 15) and then twice repeats it (verses 16-17, 19). It's almost like He's saying: "Hello? Hello? Don't you get it?" While idolatry is, of course, a serious matter, there is something to laugh at in the utter ridiculousness of it all. And yet God says that He has shut the people's eyes so that they cannot see the absurdity (verses 18-19)—which really means that because of their rebellious and stubborn refusal to acknowledge obvious truth regarding God, He has given them over wholly to their own twisted way of thinking, allowing them to be further confounded. They remain willingly deceived (verse 20) by the arch-deceiver, Satan the Devil (Revelation 12:9).
The margin notes in some Bibles state that the Hebrew for "shut their eyes" in Isaiah 44:18 literally means, "their eyes are smeared over." The New International Version renders it, "their eyes are plastered over." This presents a graphic picture of those whose spiritual blindness is complete.
At last God will rescue the Israelites from their own foolish descent into idolatry. Indeed, among the modern nations of Israel, Roman Catholicism is widely practiced, wherein people pray to lifeless statues for help. Even those who don't practice idolatry in that sense often do so in looking to mere created things for deliverance—such as possessions and money. God tells the people in verse 21 to remember the ridiculous word pictures He has painted in this chapter—to see the foolishness of relying on created things rather than the Creator. And now at last they will. For God will blot out their sin and redeem them (verse 22)—bringing them finally to right understanding. It will be a time of great rejoicing (verse 23).