READ: Isaiah 44-46
THINK: Bel and Nebo were ancient false gods of the Israelites’ neighbors. People would orient their lives around what they believed these gods were demanding or promising. Read this translation of Isaiah 46:1-7 from The Message:
The god Bel falls down, god Nebo slumps. The no-god hunks of wood are loaded on mules and have to be hauled off, wearing out the poor mules— dead weight, burdens who can’t bear burdens, hauled off to captivity. “Listen to me, family of Jacob, everyone that’s left of the family of Israel. I’ve been carrying you on my back from the day you were born, and I’ll keep on carrying you when you’re old. I’ll be there, bearing you when you’re old and gray. I’ve done it and will keep on doing it, carrying you on my back, saving you. So to whom will you compare me, the Incomparable? Can you picture me without reducing me? People with a lot of money hire craftsmen to make them gods. The artisan delivers the god, and they kneel and worship it! They carry it around in holy parades, then take it home and put it on a shelf. And there it sits, day in and day out, a dependable god, always right where you put it. Say anything you want to it, it never talks back. Of course, it never does anything either!”
After you read how God addresses Israel’s tendency to act like its neighbors – that than trusting and obeying him – consider what gods might be in your culture and in your life. These don’t have to be people or objects. They could be principles or beliefs that shape how we live, think, and feel every day. For example, “Having more money makes a person secure, “ or “If people just lost weight and worked out more, the opposite sex would be attracted to them.”
Identify a god that tempts you personally. Are there aspects of the true God that you find difficult to accept (such as his holiness or the facts that he is invisible and sometimes silent)? In what ways do these “no-god hunks of wood” capitalize on those doubts and make themselves appear more appealing than God? What do they promise you? Now consider: what do they really bring you? Anything lasting?
PRAY/LIVE: Read God’s plea to Israel from The Message once more. Tell God what you see in yourself and what you see in this god you’ve identified in your life. Be real. Now hear him ask you, “To whom or what will you compare me, the Incomparable?” Don’t answer immediately, but ponder the question. Ask him to help you stay committed to him and committed to working through the struggles you have with him. Watch today for when your ‘no-god hunks of wood” are the most appealing to you, for when you are most likely to “worship” them or believe their message.
By: Eugene Peterson in Solo