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Lowell Brueckner

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God Creator or Gods Formed


41. An expository study of Isaiah, chapter 44


Have you considered the many things in your life over which you have had no control? The family into which you were born, the time and place of your birth, your name, and your physical features are all things, which were decided for you. You had no choice in the matter. In the earliest stage of your life, you were totally dependent on others for care and sustenance. You were left in their hands to be moved, fed and put to sleep. They did your thinking for you.

As children, we yearned for freedom and independence, for the day that we could leave our parents’ house and be on our own. So we got a job and lived in our own place. Soon we found that we were not as free, as we thought we should be. There were bills to pay and our employer thought that we ought to obey his wishes. Then we married and found that our area of freedom was smaller, because now we had to share our existence with another. Then children came and chipped away even more at our little independent world.

Let’s look at the other side… the times when we used our independence, and let’s consider the choices that we have made. Do these recollections give us any more pleasure or satisfaction? In many areas of our lives, we are living with the consequences of wrong decisions and, if we view our situation correctly, we will find that we have been and are slaves to our own will. We should come to the realization that our independence has not brought us any more happiness, and perhaps it would have been better, if someone else had made our choices for us.

Because of our fiercely independent nature, perhaps we do not find it very pleasant to think of another making decisions for us. We like to make our own choices and rule over every area of our lives. We want to control our future. It seems to me, this independence stems from fallen nature, for we were created to be dependent beings, made for God’s pleasure and to totally lean upon Him for subsistence.

So this chapter begins, reminding Jacob, that is, the nation of Israel, that he is a chosen servant of God. It is a continuation from the last chapter, where Jacob was suffering the consequences of rebellion against his God. Jesus told His disciples, “You did not choose me, but I chose you…” (Jn.15:16) They were chosen by God and so are all those who become His disciples. When praying to the Father, Jesus spoke of them as “those whom you have given me, for they are yours” (Jn.17:9). In the matter of discipleship, we do not choose, but are chosen.

Recipients of water and the Spirit

As in the last chapter, the Lord reassures his people that they should not fear, for He made them, formed them and will help them. The name “Jacob” is dishonorable, but here he is given another name, Jeshurun, actually an antonym with a root meaning right or straight (v.2). This is a prophetic and poetic utterance, a term of endearment.

Water is a precious commodity in Israel and the Lord frequently refers to water as blessing upon His people; not only physical blessing, but spiritual. “I will pour water on the thirsty land... I will pour my Spirit upon your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants” (v.3). Jesus also spoke of water as spiritual life and refreshment: “Born of water and the Spirit” (Jn.3:5) and “The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (Jn.4:14).

The entire expression in these first verses is of refreshment and vitality, a transformed people rejoicing in their God, and thrilled to belong to Him. They are satisfied and fulfilled in being a chosen people (v.4-5). Let’s review quickly the message: It speaks of a chosen people, fashioned by the Lord from the beginning of their existence, secure in Him, blessed in an atmosphere of abundant life, partakers of the Holy Spirit, and exultant in being Israel, His possession.

Have we not continually reiterated that the main purpose for studying the Bible is because it is a revelation of the nature and person of God? We want to know that the God, who has touched our lives and met with us, is the One revealed in His word. In verse six, He is the Lord, the King of Israel, his Redeemer, and the Lord of hosts. He adds, “I am the first and I am the last.” Jesus Christ was claiming deity, when He spoke of Himself as “the first and the last” in the book of Revelation (1:17; 2:8; 22:13).

Again He expresses His uniqueness as the one true God and tolerates no challenger: “Besides me there is no god… Who is like me?... Is there a God besides me? There is no Rock; I know not any.” He manifests Himself in and through His people, calling them from ages past and declaring to them the future (v.7,8). The church joins with Israel in this position and calling. Paul teaches: “You were at that time… alienated from the commonwealth of Israel… but now in Christ Jesus you… have been brought near… that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places” (Eph.2:12, 13; 3:10).

Do you see that we have been chosen by God, along with the Jews, not only to witness to the world, but to “rulers and authorities in the heavenly places”? I seem to glimpse these heavenly authorities, beyond any authority that we know, sitting upon thrones, gathered to observe and marvel at the works of God among His chosen people on earth. Would you have even dreamed to choose such a calling?

A lesson about idols

The reader of the writings of the prophet is ushered into a heavenly classroom, where he is privileged to learn from God’s viewpoint. In this place alone, he partakes of absolute truth, superseding anything that is taught by the most advanced thinking on this planet. God has revealed Himself in the previous verses and now He will school us in the subject of idolatry.

He tells us that an idolater is someone who delights in meaningless vanity. Time, energy and expense is lavished on something without value. “Their witnesses neither see nor know, that they may be put to shame” (v.9). Their practice is senseless and therefore they will inevitably bring shame to themselves. We will ponder the reason for making this statement.

The forming of an idol can be a very elaborate undertaking involving a number of people, including a designer and a craftsman. The time will come, when they will be gathered and singled out for fear and shame. “Who fashions a god or casts an idol?” The entire project begins and ends in human thought and endeavor, which in itself is enough proof to show us its fallibility (v.10-11). 

The ironsmith is brought in question to demonstrate his ability and part in making an idol. He has tools designed for his trade and he has developed skill and strength in his craft. However, he has his natural limitations and weaknesses. The unspoken question is: Does he have the wherewithal to create a supernatural object? (v.12).

Then the carpenter is brought to the front in carving the work. We are familiar, aren’t we, with the pencil and lines that he draws on the wood, with the plane and the compass to draw an arc? He skillfully shapes an image of a handsome being, fit to decorate any house. He uses cedar, or cypress, or hard, heavy oak wood. This carpenter starts from scratch: he plants his own grove and waits decades for it to grow and mature. Part of his wood is used as fuel for heating. Another part is used for a wood oven to bake bread. From the same tree, he chooses a limb to form an idol to religiously worship. He “falls down before it” (v.13-15).  The unspoken question: Is this piece of wood a worthy object for a human being to worship?

Follow the reasoning of the Holy Spirit: “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!’ 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!’” (v.16-17) Can something that comes from such a common source for common usage, be singled out and carved into something, which is divine? Can something made with human hands be helpful to provide that one with supernatural help?

An idolater, the Lord instructs us, cannot discern; that is, he cannot distinguish between the common and the holy. He is blind and his heart is dead to spiritual reality, so that he cannot understand. There is no wisdom from above to be able to say, “Half of it I burned in the fire; I also baked bread on its coals… Shall I fall down before a block of wood?” (v.18-19) Do you see the shame of it all? “A deluded heart has led him astray” (v.20). He cannot tell a lie from the truth, because he lives in a world of deceit. If he can build a god with his own materials and his own strength and skill, then… is he not the god of his god? Is he not the god over his own world? That is what it seems to boil down to.

God stands with His people

These are the things that God teaches His people, in order that they might be better informed and distinguished from the rest of the world. Even in Babylonian captivity, they are a light in a dark place, as the church should be in the New Testament dispensation, “blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world” (Phil.2:15).

In the midst of idolatry, God’s people are to remember the true God, to whom they belong. They did not form Him, He formed them; He does not serve them, they are His servants. Was there a danger that their sin would come between them and their Lord, so that He would turn His back on them? (v.21) Then, “I have blotted out your transgressions like a cloud and your sins like mist; return to me, for I have redeemed you” (v.22). Transgressions, thicker ones like a cloud, and thinner ones like the mist, which block the heavenly view, are blotted out of their account book. The problem of reconciliation belongs to them. They have strayed and must repent (v.22).

When mankind is freed through redemption, all of creation sings. The heavens, the depths, the mountains, and the forest, every area of creation and every single item in that area must join in the song. Nothing in the world is as great as redemption and nothing brings more glory to God (v.23).

In contrast to the world of idolatry, from the very onset of his existence, God forms His people. He, by Himself, is the Creator of man and He is the Creator of man’s ambiance, the heavens and the earth. He is the Redeemer, solving all the problems that might separate the people from Him (v.24).

He interferes with a corrupted world, which stands in opposition to Him, perverting His creation by false religion. He will deal with it. He is the Lord, “who frustrates the signs of liars and makes fools of diviners, who turns wise men back and makes their knowledge foolish” (v.25). He stands on the side of truth: “Who confirms the word of his servant and fulfills the counsel of his messenger.”   

Here is the word of the Lord to the Babylonian captivity: “Who says of Jerusalem, She shall be inhabited, and of the cities of Judah, They shall be built, and I will raise up their ruins” (v.26). He works through the power of His word. His spoken word is as sure as its fulfillment. All that comes between Him and His purpose, will disintegrate (v.27).

In this final scripture, the vessel that God has already said would be raised up to return the Jews to their land, is named, about 200 years before his birth. Cyrus will be His shepherd, guiding Israel back to their native country. The Lord raises up, whom He will, even a king of a pagan world empire, to carry out His purposes. Through Cyrus, Jerusalem will be rebuilt and so will its most important landmark, the temple.

Be sure of this, what God has done to fulfill His will in the past, is what He will do in the future. The idolatry of modern times is much more complicated and sophisticated, but He will shame it and put His fear upon the idolatrous generation. His truth will triumph and His word will defeat all enemies, including the final rebellion, led by Antichrist and the false prophet. He, who is called the Word of God with a sword proceeding from His mouth, will descend from heaven to capture the beast and false prophet and slay with the sword (Rev.19:13,15,20-21). He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords (Rev.19:16).


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