Here Isaiah was lumping together any idol crafted by man…whether it was cut, carved, cast, or sculpted. He called them all worthless, or as he wrote in Isaiah 41:24, “Less than nothing.” But sadly from the beginning of time, mankind has coveted with selfish desire idols of their own making rather than worshiping the one true God. And this vanity has only led us to deceptively think we know more than God…which is so far from the truth, or as Isaiah lamented, “They are ignorant to their own shame.” Wow!
Earlier in this Chapter, Isaiah speaks of the power and magnificence of God and how there is no other God besides Him. He then addresses the many idols of Israel…man-made pieces that they have put their trust in rather than God. Finally, in these verses above, Isaiah sarcastically suggests they bring their idols to him so they may be questioned about past and future events in order to somehow legitimize their “godliness”. His sarcasm only continues as he urges these idols to, “Do something, don’t just sit there looking at me!” No man-made idol will ever take the place of God, for no man-made idol has the capacity, authority, dominion, or might as God does.
“For the Lord is the great God, the great King above all gods.” (Psalm 95:3) I added the emphasis to make us all think for a moment of just how glorious and awesome God is. He is deserving of our praise and worship… He is God (capitol G)… not all the “little” gods we allow in our life. For when we put our trust in idols (little gods), we’re putting our confidence in worthless and vain man-made objects…not the God that created the heavens and earth. He is the one and only great God above all, and is so worthy of our praise.
King Hezekiah had his priories where they needed to be from the very start. One of his very first acts as king was to open up the Temple, which his father Ahaz had earlier boarded up. Instead of keeping the Temple of the Lord open for worship, Ahaz had placed altars to foreign gods at every street corner for the people. (II Chronicles 28:24-25) Hezekiah’s superstitious dabbler in idolatrous cults father had even scorned the Prophet Isaiah’s promise of a coming Immanuel (Isaiah 7:14) to instead run after foreign gods. The new King Hezekiah, with God’s help, was finally able to launch the long-needed moral and religious reform within the nation of Judah.
The people of Israel and Judah had gathered in Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover. This great assembly rejoiced and praised God for being able to meet together once again. And as their prayers rose to God, revival broke out. For before they even traveled home, it says they went throughout the country-side smashing false idols, cutting down Asherah poles, and destroying other places of pagan worship. Their prayers had been heard, they caught the vision God had for them, and they could not help but act on it. I pray for the same type of revival to break out in us.
Queen Jezebel brought her false religion and idols with her and tried to force it on Israel. She was extremely intelligent, cunning, evil…and ruthless in destroying anyone who stood up to her…killing off many of the Lord’s prophets. This Jezebel spirit seeks to infiltrate, and once in, tries to attack, undermine and destroy people, marriages, Churches, and Ministries. This critical spirit worms its way in with charisma and manipulation slowly taking control only then to turn…causing major dissension, strife, in-fighting, and malicious gossip. Those in Leadership positions are especially in their sights to destroy. Even strong Christians can be brought down by this Jezebel spirit…look at Elijah. Even though he had just defeated 400 prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel…when Jezebel threatened him…he ran. Elijah was so distraught and depressed he wanted to quit and just walk away from God…until God strengthened him and gave him a Word.
Over the course of history there hasn’t been anything made by man that could take the place of Jesus Christ. From the wooden statues overlaid with gold to the modern-day idols we chase after today…they are and will always be fraudulent, deceitful, and totally worthless. I Samuel 12:21 warns us, “Do not turn away after useless idols.” For anytime we take God off His throne and place a man-made object there instead, we’re putting our trust in ourselves. And no man-made idol has or will ever have the power to save our souls…only Jesus can do that.
Stiff-necked is a great word picture. It comes from oxen resisting the yoke placed on them by the farmer. And when we turn away from God and His Word…we’re essentially doing the same thing. We stubbornly think God’s yoke is too difficult to bear and so in rebellion we throw off the yoke of obedience. But it warns us in Galatians 5:1, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” For we become totally deceived when we think that the yoke of sin is easy to escape out of…for in reality, the bondage of its yoke is far heavier and more difficult to carry.
Anytime we put a “thing” between us and God…that’s an idol. Anytime we take God off the throne of our heart and put that “thing” in His place…it’s an idol. We’d all vehemently deny that we engage in idol worship…but let’s stop and think about for a moment. An IDOL is – Iconoclastic Ideology that causes Deception Over Our Lives. An idol is something that attacks and opposes cherished beliefs and doctrines in a very misleading and crafty way…slowly and deceptively worming its way into our lives over time…until that idol has become firmly established on the throne of our heart. We may say we’re not into idol worship…but who’s sitting on that throne today? The newest smart phone…an addiction…unforgiveness? Anything can become an idol when it comes between and causes discord between God and you.
God had instructed Gideon to tear down his father’s false idols…and Gideon had obeyed, in a fashion. Instead of doing it in broad daylight though, he did it under cover of darkness, …all because of fear. He was afraid of what others would think. Fearful of retaliation, Gideon wanted to obey God, but also wanted to please people. It’s impossible to be a people pleaser and obey God at the same time…for you end up compromising yourself and your integrity.