Tuesday Morning Devotion – 2/20/07 (If You Can Buy It, It’s Not God!)

(6) Those who pour out gold from a bag, and weight out silver on scales,
Hire a smith, to make it into a god, then adore it and worship it.
(7) They take it up on their shoulders, then set it firmly in place, it can’t move from that spot.
If anyone cries out to it, it cannot answer, it can’t save him from his trouble. — Isaiah 46:6-7

I’ve been talking a great deal about idolatry lately, and my best excuse is that the Bible does much the same thing, particularly in the book of Isaiah, which is one of my devotional study items at the moment.

This passage reminded me of recent ads by a certain income tax firm lately. A man is working on his taxes, and he’s in trouble. His wife says something like, “Why don’t we ask the person who prepared our taxes? Oh, that’s right! We don’t have a person, we have a box! OK, let’s ask the box!” At which point she speaks pointlessly to the box, which is not capable of answering her.

That could be a parable to teach Isaiah’s message about things that are not God. We often regard these passages about idolatry as something that’s just historical. Ancient people worshiped idols. We don’t. Or perhaps we relate these passages to the images in certain churches.

But the fact is that we are all capable of having idols. We can create idols in our head. Our idols might be images in our head of who God is. We may think of God as the great dispensing machine in the sky. Just insert a prayer (or 2 or 3) and out comes the thing you want. If you are depending on that idol, you will soon be disappointed. There will come the time when you insert the prayer, and the desired candy bar doesn’t appear. That’s because God wants you to relate to him, to depend on him, not on something you imagine.

But we can also depend on our own plans, and then when they are disturbed or rearranged, we feel betrayed. Where was God? Well, were those his plans, or your plans?

We can try to buy our own security through saved money, insurance, houses, or investments. But will all of those things respond to us in our need?

I’m not suggesting that making plans, thinking about God, saving money, or buying insurance are bad things. But if you pour out your money, as our text says, to get a god made for you, then watch out! Bad things are about to happen.

What do I mean by pouring out your money to make a god? If you’re making those expenditures to provide something to depend on ultimately, to make your final hope of salvation, to give your attention to instead of God, then you’re pouring out that money (that time, that mental energy) to make a god. You’ll have to carry that god, it won’t carry you. You’ll have to put it in its place, it won’t go there itself, and when the time comes for prayer, you’re going to have to provide your own answer, because it won’t.

Why not just let God be God in your own life?

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