Those who make an image, all of them are useless, and their precious things shall not profit; they are their own witnesses; they neither see nor know, that they may be ashamed. Who would form a god or mold an image that profits him nothing? Surely all his companions would be ashamed; and the workmen, they are mere men. Let them all be gathered together, let them stand up; yet they shall fear, they shall be ashamed together. (Isaiah 44:9-11)
Modern Day Idols
The destruction of Israel came from the desire of the people to be like the nations around them and as people succumb to the folly of idolatry. It is difficult to understand the concept of idol worship yet it is the most prolific cause of rebellion against God known to man. Many cultures are based on idolatry, wars have been fought through the influence of idolatry and the carnal desires of humanity have been fueled by the practice of idolatry. When the subject of idolatry is discussed, the first impression is that of a man bowing down to a stone or wooden figure of some mystical being created from the mind of the worshiper. Most of the gods are perverted compilations of man and animal or a place or a large stone dedicated to the purpose of the religion surrounding idol worship. The greatest appeal to idolatry is the ability to do anything desired by the worshiper including sexual perversions, murder, rape, pillaging, and a host of self-gratification acts of worship. There are no rules in idolatry except the rules established by the worshiper. In every culture built upon the stones of idolatry the people are corrupt, immoral and degraded to the likeness of the animal nature of man. Isaiah the prophet lived among the people of God corrupted with the practice of idolatry. He saw the destruction of Israel by the hand of the idol-worshipers and the impact it had upon the moral, religious and personal lives of those who once called Jehovah the only true God.
The failure of idolatry is how useless and empty it is. Idols are created by their creators. The blacksmith fashions the idol with his hammer and the craftsman stretches out his rule to make a totem of his religion. Idols are useless because they cannot see nor can they know anything. To form an image into an idol and then fall down and ask for the idol to deliver one is folly. Why would anyone form a god or mold an image that will not help him or protect him? If a man worships an idol and an earthquake threatens his home, who rescues whom? The idol of stone must be rescued by the worshiper. There is no mind in the form of the idol and no life. Falling down to an image of a Buddha or black stone or a man in Rome who calls himself ‘God on earth’ is sheer folly. Idolatry is useless because it is formed from the foolishness of men. The greatest failure of idolatry is the person believing his life consists of what that object will bring him when in fact it will come to nothing. And that is where the modern version of idolatry has a larger following than the ancients who worshiped Zeus, Baal, Thor and a host of gods.
Idolatry is not just falling down before a stone image but is found in the hearts of those who put their faith in the trappings of this world. Idolatry takes on many forms for the modern man. Possessions can become idols when the heart desires the finest things believing that the worth of a person is based upon where they live, what they wear, how they fix their hair, what cars they drive and how far their education has taken them. There is nothing wrong with stone, wood or precious gems but when taken to form idols it becomes a hindrance. Social status is a normal part of life unless it becomes the god that fuels the heart to despise others. Riches can be a blessing when used for good purposes yet become a god that drives the lives of the soul of man to trust more in riches than the one true God. The lesson from Isaiah is that whether it is the idols of mortar and stone or the modern conveniences and blessings of a prosperous nation, the precious things are useless and profit nothing. Parents will give their children everything but God. Jobs will keep the heart from serving the Lord. Life will be consumed by the accumulation of stuff to be left when death comes and for what purpose? The gods of this world cannot see nor can they hear. Isaiah’s plea resonates today that all men must see the value of this world and what is found here compared to what is found in a relationship with the eternal God who will judge all men. Where your treasure is found is where you will find your heart and where you find your heart determines your eternal path.