The things we fear and the things we trust are the things that become our idols. Because idolatry holds that captive power over us, the Bible treats it as not just something morally wrong but as something foolish, something to ridicule. The aim is that as we learn to laugh at our idols and at our foolish idolatry, they lose their power over us.
Read Isaiah 46-47
Isaiah names some of the gods that Israel and Judah have become beholden to. He points out that these idols have to be carried around, the people will even carry them off into captivity with them (46:1-2). In contrast, God is the one who has carried his people. That’s the difference between a false god and the true God (46:3-4).
Again, God invites the people to attempt comparison between him ad the gods, he is te uncreated one but these idols are made by the very hands of those who then worship them. Their idols are fixed in place, unable to hear, unable to act, unable to help (46:5-7).
So, once again, God reminds them of his unique qualities, that he is without rival, incomparable, eternal, infinite and invincible. So, God is dependable, his word can be trusted. He is the one we should both fear and trust (46:8-11). His specific promise is that he will bring salvation to “Israel my glory”. Notice there that if he will not share his glory with anyone else and Israel is his glory, then he will not share his people, their worship and love with another god (46:12-13).
So, if the false gods are not to be feared or trusted, then so too, Babylon. The people are not to fear their coming captors and so not to compromise in order to appease. Remember, that going back to Genesis 11, Babel/Babylon is set up as the rival to God and his people, the gateway to the gods which is in fact just a place of hubris and confusion. Therefore, God now pronounces judgement on that city (47:1).
The people of Babylon are likened to a daughter, a princess who, in shocking language, is stripped, humiliated and shamed (47:2-4). If Babylon had become proud and believed that the nations around looked to her and depended on her, then she was like a mistress with suitors. However, Babylon would lose her appeal and the New Testament would refer to her as nothing more than a common prostitute. Babylon had been given permission by God to act against Judah for his purposes but in pride and vanity, like Assyria gone beyond that. Now she will experience judgement. If those who walked in darkness got to see light, so those who thought they had light would find themselves in darkness (47:5-7).
Babylon’s idolatry is made explicit in verses 8-11, she made her own enjoyment her chief goal, she saw herself as unique, without rival and she believed herself to be indestructible. All of those claims belong only to YHWH and now Babylon will discover that they were false. God challenges Babylon, can her own gods and superstitions save her? Of course not and so judgement us surely coming (v12-15).
Meditate on 46:9
for I am God, and there is no other;
I am God, and there is none like me,
- What idols have you been allowing to share the love, fear, trust, worship that belong to God alone?
- What will it mean for those idols to be ripped from the altar of your heart?
Lord God, keep us from idols.