Isaiah- Session 9- Isaiah 46:1-13

Session 9- Prioritizing God

Isaiah 46:1-13

Lesson Resources:

 

Subject:  God

Central Theme: Prioritizing God

Objective Sentence:  We should prioritize God over idols because of 3 contrasts made in Isaiah 46.

Keyword:  Contrast

Contrast #1- Idols are carried by their worshippers. God carries His worshippers. v.1-7.

Contrast #2- Idols cannot work. God is at work. v.7-11

Contrast #3- Idols cannot save. God will save. v. 12-13

Introduction:

  • It has been said, “Show me your schedule and your bank account and we can see what you worship.”
  • There is some truth to this statement.
  • All of us make decisions every day about what we value by how we prioritize our time, money, and energy.
  • It is not wrong to enjoy the things that God has made. The Bible states clearly that every good gift comes from God.
  • The concern is when the gifts of God becomes substitutes for God Himself.
  • This idea of a “substitute for God” is a good definition of an idol.
  • Anything that receives the worship that only God deserves is an idol for us.
  • Anything that we look to for what we should only receive from God is an idol for us.
  • Our idols therefore may not look like the graven images found in the time of Isaiah, or in remote parts of the world today. Yet they are still very much idols.
  • In today’s text we see God contrasting Himself with the idols that were found in Babylon.
  • As we study this passage we will see God pleading for His kids to prioritize Him in their lives.

We should prioritize God over idols because of 3 contrasts made in Isaiah 46.

Contrast #1- Idols are carried by their worshippers. God carries His worshippers. v.1-7.

(1)  Bel boweth down, Nebo stoopeth, their idols were upon the beasts, and upon the cattle: your carriages were heavy loaden; they are a burden to the weary beast.  (2)  They stoop, they bow down together; they could not deliver the burden, but themselves are gone into captivity.

(3)  Hearken unto me, O house of Jacob, and all the remnant of the house of Israel, which are borne by me from the belly, which are carried from the womb: (4)  And even to your old age I am he; and even to hoar hairs will I carry you: I have made, and I will bear; even I will carry, and will deliver you.  (Isaiah 46:1-4)

 

Explanation:

  • Bel is a pagan God of Babylon, and is another spelling for Baal.  Nebo is a Babylonian God.
  • Names like Nebuchadnezzar were names given to prominent figures in Babylon as a tribute to this god.
  • When times of crisis came, like when Cyrus, King of Persia, came to take over Babylon, these idols had to be defended and carried on beasts of burden.
  • These idols that were worshipped by these people had to be carried and defended by these people when things got bad.
  • In contrast, the God of Israel says that He has carried his people from the womb and will carry them until old age and beyond.  From conception beyond grey-headedness God will carry His people.
  • He says in verse four that he made them, he will bear them, and he will deliver them.
  • So, what is the contrast?  The worshippers of false idols have to carry their idols in times of crisis.  God carries His worshippers at all times.

Application:

  • For most of the people to which I minister, and for myself, bowing down to a graven image of some false idol is not my temptation.
  • Yet, that does not mean that we do not have a problem with idolatry.  The truth is we give ourselves over to created things in worship all the time.
  • In times of crisis these created things that we worship will not ultimately sustain or save us.
  • Sure, things that are created can help us, but the truth is none of these things can really carry us, especially in ultimate things.
  • We need to be saved, and the only one who can ultimately do that is God Himself.
  • Our cars, houses, jobs, spouses, hobbies, devices, careers, or money cannot ultimately carry us.  Only God can do this for us.

(5)  To whom will ye liken me, and make me equal, and compare me, that we may be like?  (6)  They lavish gold out of the bag, and weigh silver in the balance, and hire a goldsmith; and he maketh it a god: they fall down, yea, they worship.  (7)  They bear him upon the shoulder, they carry him, and set him in his place, and he standeth; from his place shall he not remove: yea, one shall cry unto him, yet can he not answer, nor save him out of his trouble.  (Isaiah 46:5-7)

 

Explanation:

  • God continues and asks what may seem like an obvious question to the one who knows the reality of who God really is.
  • Can God be compared to other gods?  Many have certainly tried, and yet there really isn’t much that dead idols have in common with the living God.
  • Other gods are crafted using created things.
    • In those days they would hire a craftsman to make a god.
    • If an idol was to go anywhere it must be carried and set down.
    • Idols must be shaped so that they don’t fall over.
    • Think about this: people hire someone one to craft an idol, pick it up and take it to a place of worship, and then bow down to worship idols seeking for them to move in their lives.
  • Idols cannot save!  Idols cannot answer, much less save anyone from trouble.

Application:

  • Again, we don’t craft images that look like the ones described in this passage in our western culture.
  • Yet we do worship created things.
  • There is no doubt that we give our lives over to things that replace the True and living God.
  • The same kinds of statements can be made of these things we give ourselves to as are made of the idols in this passage.
    • We purchase the goods and set them up in our houses and then allow them to control the way we think, behave, and yes, even worship.
    • We prioritize these created things over the God of the Universe who has made us and redeemed us.
    • Worshipping these things will always cause there to be a void left in our lives that only God can fill.

We ought to worship the God that carries us, and not the gods that we have to carry.

Response:

  • The passage this week really is about idolatry.
  • An idol is anything that receives worship that is due to God.  Is there any idol in your life that you are tempted to worship?  The first step to rejecting it is naming it.

We have already asked you to identify any potential idols in your life.  Have you done that?  The right response to any sin is repentance.  Take some time to offer up repentance today if it is needed.

 

We should prioritize God over idols because of 3 contrasts made in Isaiah 46.

Contrast #1- Idols are carried by their worshippers. God carries His worshippers. v.1-7.

Contrast #2- Idols cannot work. God is at work. v.7-11

(7) They bear him upon the shoulder, they carry him, and set him in his place, and he standeth; from his place shall he not remove: yea, one shall cry unto him, yet can he not answer, nor save him out of his trouble. (8)  Remember this, and shew yourselves men: bring it again to mind, O ye transgressors. (9)  Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me,  (10)  Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure:  (11)  Calling a ravenous bird from the east, the man that executeth my counsel from a far country: yea, I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it.  (Isaiah 46:8-11)

Explanation:

  • There is yet another contrast between the True and Living God and idols.
  • Notice what is said of the idol in verse 7.

“Yea, one shall cry unto him, yet he cannot answer, nor save him out of trouble”.

  • You can cry all you want to the false, dead idol, but they can do nothing for you.
  • Now notice what God says rightly about Himself.
  • God calls for us to remember the “former things of old”.  He’s referring to things that He had done in the past.
  • The Jews to which Isaiah was writing certainly could recount all that God had done in the past, from creation, to the flood, the exodus, and all that he had done for them when they were entering into the Promised Land.
  • God’s reputation for working in their history could not be questioned.
  • God also pointed out His track record for predicting His works.
  • Notice in verse 10 where He reminds them that He had been “declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times that things that are not yet done”.
  • God prophesied over and over again things that had already been accomplished and things that have yet to be accomplished.
  • Then he makes this definitive statement based on this track record.  He says, “my counsel shall stand”.   If He says it is going to happen, it will happen.
  • He goes on say “I will do all my pleasure”.  God is going to do what He wants to do and whatever He wants to do and does will be right.
  • An example of this is also described here when He said: “Calling a ravenous bird from the East, the man that executeth my counsel from a far country”.  Many commentators think that this is speaking of Cyrus, King of Persia, who in this context would be used to conquer Babylon.
  • Notice four action verbs that God attributes to Himself when He says, “I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it“.
    • Spoken it
    • Bring it
    • Purposed it
    • Do it.
  • All of these expressions describe a God who is both active and authoritative.

Idols cannot work, while God is at work in the past, the present and will accomplish what He says He will accomplish in the future.

 

Application:

  • God has an amazing track record.  He is predictable in that what He says will happen will happen.
  • He is worthy of our worship and none other is worthy of our worship.  We should worship him because of what he has done.
  • We should worship Him because of what He will do.  He is active.  We should prioritize Him over everything else.

Response:

  • How has God worked in your past?  How is God working in your life now?  Take a few moments to praise Him for His activity in your life!

 

We should prioritize God over idols because of 3 contrasts made in Isaiah 46.

Contrast #1- Idols are carried by their worshippers. God carries His worshippers. v.1-7.

Contrast #2- Idols cannot work. God is at work. v.7-11

Contrast #3- Idols cannot save. God will save. v. 12-13

Hearken unto me, ye stouthearted, that are far from righteousness:  (13)  I bring near my righteousness; it shall not be far off, and my salvation shall not tarry: and I will place salvation in Zion for Israel my glory.  Isaiah 46:12-13

Explanation:

  • Now God calls on his audience, his people to “Hearken”.  It is as if he is saying, “listen up” or “pay attention”.
  • It is not as if what he has already been saying isn’t important already.
  • Now by calling their attention we realize the importance and value to which He is ascribing what He is about to say.
  • He calls these people that he is referring to “stout-hearted” as it is translated here.  Some translate it as stubborn-hearted.  Others as “mighty in heart”.
  • No matter how it is translated, they are referred to as people who are “far from righteousness”.
  • This is the problem for those who need salvation.  We are unrighteous.  The Bible refers to this problem in Isaiah 64:6:

But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away. (Isaiah 64:6)

  • How can someone who is already unrighteous get righteousness?
    • The only way is to give an “alien righteousness” as it has been referred to, and to credit that alien righteousness to those who are unrighteous.
    • This is what God says He will do!  “I bring near my righteousness; it shall not be far off, and my salvation shall not tarry”.
    • To bring the unrighteous righteousness is to bring them salvation.
    • How will he do this?  He says, “I will place salvation in Zion for Israel my glory”.

For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.  (26)  And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob:  (27)  For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins.  (Romans 11:25-27)

  • We know that God will do this in the person of Jesus Christ.
  • He was crucified in Zion.  “He became sin, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.”
  • One day Israel will also see their salvation realized when this same Jesus rules and reigns in Jerusalem.

God should be prioritized in worship because He is the only One who can save.  Idols cannot save.  Idols have no power of plan for salvation!

Application:

  • The application here is very straightforward.
  • Do you know for sure that you are saved?
    • This passage is speaking of salvation for Israel.
    • The truth is that through Israel God planned to bring salvation to the whole world.
    • If you do not know that your sin has been forgiven, and that you have been made righteous, we want you to know that not only is this your greatest need, it is also available.
    • God loves you so much that He sent Christ to live a perfect life, and then to die as your substitute on the cross.  Romans 10:9-13 says this:

That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.  (10)  For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.  (11)  For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.  (12)  For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.  (13)  For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.  (Romans 10:9-13).

  • For those who know Christ as Savior, are you prioritizing Him in your life.  He has saved you.  The reasonable response of our lives is worship and obedience.

Response:

  • Are you saved?  If you are not today is the day of salvation.  Contact me below!
  • If you are saved, are you prioritizing God in your life?  Leave the idols behind and prioritize God!

Conclusion:

We should prioritize God over idols because of 3 contrasts made in Isaiah 46.

Contrast #1- Idols are carried by their worshippers. God carries His worshippers. v.1-7.

Contrast #2- Idols cannot work. God is at work. v.7-11.

Contrast #3- Idols cannot save. God will save. v. 12-13.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *