The Folly of Idolatry
13 The carpenter stretches a line; he marks it out with a pencil. He shapes it with planes and marks it with a compass. He shapes it into the figure of a man, with the beauty of a man, to dwell in a house. 14 He cuts down cedars, or he chooses a cypress tree or an oak and lets it grow strong among the trees of the forest. He plants a cedar and the rain nourishes it. 15 Then it becomes fuel for a man. He takes a part of it and warms himself; he kindles a fire and bakes bread. Also he makes a god and worships it; he makes it an idol and falls down before it. 16 Half of it he burns in the fire. Over the half he eats meat; he roasts it and is satisfied. Also he warms himself and says, “Aha, I am warm, I have seen the fire!” 17 And the rest of it he makes into a god, his idol, and falls down to it and worships it. He prays to it and says, “Deliver me, for you are my god!”
18 They know not, nor do they discern, for he has shut their eyes, so that they cannot see, and their hearts, so that they cannot understand. 19 No one considers, nor is there knowledge or discernment to say, “Half of it I burned in the fire; I also baked bread on its coals; I roasted meat and have eaten. And shall I make the rest of it an abomination? Shall I fall down before a block of wood?” 20 He feeds on ashes; a deluded heart has led him astray, and he cannot deliver himself or say, “Is there not a lie in my right hand?”
The Lord Redeems Israel
21 Remember these things, O Jacob,
and Israel, for you are my servant;
I formed you; you are my servant;
O Israel, you will not be forgotten by me.
22 I have blotted out your transgressions like a cloud
and your sins like mist;
return to me, for I have redeemed you.
23 Sing, O heavens, for the Lord has done it;
shout, O depths of the earth;
break forth into singing, O mountains,
O forest, and every tree in it!
For the Lord has redeemed Jacob,
and will be glorified in Israel.
Isaiah 44: 9-23
THE "SAVIORS" WE CREATE
It’s easy to read this passage in judgment of the fool fashioning something to worship from the same wood he used to cook his meal. Our idolatry may be less overt, but it is no less foolish. We may not carve images from wood, but we build up ideal pictures of what Christmas with our family needs to look like; we count down the days eagerly awaiting unwrapping that one gift we hope to receive; we build up the “perfect gift” we got for our kids or our spouses and just cant wait to see their reaction as they open it.
Our Christmas cheer rises and falls on the bliss of those moments and the reception of those gifts. The Christmas Season is often a playground for the idols of our hearts to come out to play. It exposes all the things that we tend to worship that aren't Jesus. These idols aren’t wooden carvings, but they are the worship of peace above all else, the image of the perfect family, the acquisition of a possession, or the gaining of the approval of man.
We ask any or all of these things to “save” us just like the man in Isaiah 44… from our fear of being alone, from the disappointment of not living the life we envisioned, from our terrible guilt over failing as a parent, from boredom and dissatisfaction, or from self-loathing.
Arguably the most alluring idols for us as mamas are our children.
We did not fashion them from wood, but they resulted from our action, they grew within us, and we nurture them to grow outside of us. We look to their behavior to gauge our success. We look to their affection to measure our worth. We look to their pleasure to ensure our goodness. And they are far too small to bare such a burden. Far too small, and far too finite.
A TRUE SAVIOR PROVIDED
Isaiah urges us to remember that we have already been redeemed, a savior has already been provided.
This is excellent news for us, but it is also life saving news for our children. Not only is salvation from death available to them, but if we place our hope in Jesus, they are released from an immense pressure to perform for us, to comfort us, ... to "save" us. And we are free to love them without those demands and point them to the one who can satisfy theirs.
What better occasion to recall this cause for singing and rejoicing (v. 23) than Christmas itself. Christmas is a celebration of the incarnation. God sent a true savior to redeem us, to “sweep away our offenses like a cloud” and to make our “sins like the morning mist.” He sent a true savior to save us from death, and to save our children and our spouses from a burden that they could not bear. He was not created by man, in fact all things were created through him. He is worthy of our worship and does not disappoint.
Let your children be children. And let Christ be your savior.
QUESTIONS FOR APPLICATION/ REFLECTION:
1. How does Christmas expose your idolatrous heart? What is your hope rising and falling on during the advent season as you gather with family to celebrate? Your children? Their outfits? The moments? The experience? The Gifts?
2. Be courageous and take an honest look at whatever may be in your “right hand.” Can you call it a lie? Spend some time in prayer and repentance for placing hope in that thing and ask God to grace you with the recollection that it is only Christ who satisfies!
3. How might this season be different if you burned up your idol with the rest of the wood and simply clung to Jesus?
Abbey Wedgeworth lives in the SC low country with her handsome husband and their 9 month old baby boy, Will. She is passionate about honesty, discipleship, and biblical literacy. She struggles to maintain hobbies since becoming a mama, among them: baking, sewing, making music, and writing. You can find some of that writing at gentleleading.com .