A Season of Transition, a Season of Prayer — Please join us each day at 11:30 a.m. in offering a personal but collective prayer for our congregation. Today’s focus for prayer is: Our Loaves and Fishes volunteers, who assist the working poor by sorting and distributing food.
Scripture: Isaiah 44:9-20
Key Verses 9-10: 9 All who make idols are nothing, and the things they delight in do not profit; their witnesses neither see nor know. And so they will be put to shame. 10 Who would fashion a god or cast an image that can do no good?”
Reflection: No matter how much Bible Study I do there is always a passage to read and think, “I’ve never read THAT one before!” This is one of those passages. There are plenty of other places in Scripture where the people of God are warned about worshiping idols, and bowing down to other gods. In this warning, the explanation of why, and the silliness of idols, is laid out so descriptively. Look at verses 14b-17:
[The carpenter] plants a cedar and the rain nourishes it. 15 Then it can be used as fuel. Part of it he takes and warms himself; he kindles a fire and bakes bread. Then he makes a god and worships it, makes it a carved image and bows down before it. 16 Half of it he burns in the fire; over this half he roasts meat, eats it and is satisfied. He also warms himself and says, “Ah, I am warm, I can feel the fire!” 17 The rest of it he makes into a god, his idol, bows down to it and worships it; he prays to it and says, “Save me, for you are my god!”
Can’t you see that carpenter? He works so patiently for his craft, nurturing a cedar tree from a seedling. He harvests the wood to be used in his carpentry. Some of it he also uses as fuel for the fire to warm himself. The fire helps him bake bread to feed himself. He is warm and well-fed and satisfied. Then he takes the same wood and carves an idol, or god out of it. He bows down and worships, praying “Save me for you are my god!”
To worship something made by human hands is foolish. Nothing we make ourselves is worthy of worship. As wonderful and beautiful are creations of our hands and of art and science and all knowledge, they cannot save. Not like God saves. We can see the foolishness in the example of the carpenter, who makes a little god out of the same stuff he uses to heat his home. But can we see the same inclination in ourselves? Do we let other things take the place of God; things of our own creation, or someone else’s, that we think will save us? Do we parse out our worship of God in terms of time and money and energy along with our heat, our food, and our home? Perhaps we are more like the carpenter than we care to admit.
Prayer: O God you are so much bigger than I can imagine. You created everything that is, and all that I create and do is only by your grace. Forgive me when I forget. Forgive me when I start to worship other things. Forgive me when I think I can save myself. Teach me to worship you alone. In the name of Christ I pray. Amen.
Author: Julie Hester
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].