We have heard over and over again that anything can be an idol. It’s not only a sculpture, a carving, or a cast-iron statue. It’s been jammed into our brains. But how many of us believe it?
Isaiah 44 shows how foolish it is to worship an idol. Isaiah’s logic goes something like this: a carpenter cuts down a tree, he cuts it into a log. He uses half of it to make food and keep warm. He uses the other half as a god to worship. How stupid!
Well, that’s primitive and we (21st century people) would never do such a thing. Or would we?
Consider this: instead of cutting down a tree and worshiping it, we use “half” of our job, if you will, to give our families warmth and food. We use the other “half” to obtain worldly success and fame and the praise of man. What we are actually doing is sacrificing our family and our spiritual life so that we can worship at the altar of profit and recognition.
More than that, think about what we “love” (i.e. worship). We “love” sports teams so that we can feel good when they win, and have an excuse to have self-pity when they lose. We “love” people so that they can be an avenue to get what we want. We “love” our jobs so that we might receive the praise of man and get a fat paycheck to suit our ridiculous life-styles. We “love” food so that it can be a comfort to avert our attention from the sadness and depression in our lives and around the world. We “love” movies because it puts us into a fairytale story where life always ends up rich, happy, safe, or in love. The list goes on and on.
Idolaters have fooled themselves into believing that idols can make their life fulfilling and satisfying. Instead, an idol is a life-draining, murdering, deceiving thing, because true idol-worship is actually self-worship. We worship idols for our benefit.
These functional saviors cannot and never will deal with our greatest problem: sin. Idols merely expose our sin and pride and desire to worship ourselves rather than God. And the worst part is that when we get so deep into idolatry, we are like this man in Isaiah 44 who “cannot deliver himself or say, ‘Is there not a lie in my right hand?’ (v. 20).
Jesus is the only Savior who can bring satisfaction and happiness. He said, “I came that you may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10b). Jesus made this promise, and he still delivers today. Every idol makes that same promise everyday, but not one has ever come through for anyone.