With whom will you compare God? Part 2 – Isaiah 40:18-25


Continuing the Isaiah 40 quotation from last week – verses 18-25 contrast God with kings and princes, and the gods we set up in his place.

Idolatry is a topic that runs right through the Bible. It is explicitly mentioned from the first books right the way into the New Testament, and while the word ‘idol’ can summon up something of an outdated idea, it actually speaks into every culture. A while back I read Tim Keller’s excellent book, Counterfeit Gods, the introduction to which sets this out very well:

“To contemporary people the word idolatry conjures up pictures of primitive people bowing down before statues. The biblical book of Acts in the New Testament contains vivid descriptions of the cultures of the ancient Greco-Roman world. Each city worshipped its favourite deities and built shrines around their images for worship…

… Our contemporary society is not fundamentally different from these ancient ones. Each culture is dominated by its own set of idols. Each has its ‘priesthoods,’ its totems and rituals. Each one has its shrines – whether office towers, spas and gyms, studios or stadiums – where sacrifices must be made in order to procure the blessings of the good life and ward off disaster…

… the human heart takes good things like a successful career, love, material possessions, even family, and turns them into ultimate things. Our hearts deify them as the center of our lives, because, we think, they can give us significance and security, safety and fulfilment, if we attain to them…

… What is an idol? It is anything more important to you than God, anything that absorbs your heart and imagination more than God, anything you seek to give you what only God can give.”

I would highly recommend a read of the whole book – it discusses the problem of idolatry and some of its most common forms, and also offers some encouraging and useful instruction on dealing with our idols – rooting them out where we have made a good thing into an ultimate thing – and looking instead to our incomparable God to give us what only he can provide.

This is available as a print


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