Each year I read through the Bible. This morning, these verses jumped out at me with a truth that I’d not noticed before. Isaiah is describing those who cut down a tree to cook supper and then make themselves. He concludes with this . . . .
“They know not, nor do they discern, for he has shut their eyes, so that they cannot see, and their hearts, so that they cannot understand. No one considers, nor is there knowledge or discernment to say, ‘Half of it I burned in the fire; I also baked bread on its coals; I roasted meat and have eaten. And shall I make the rest of it an abomination? Shall I fall down before a block of wood?’ He feeds on ashes; a deluded heart has led him astray, and he cannot deliver himself or say, ‘Is there not a lie in my right hand?’” (Isaiah 44:18–20)
The making of idols is a lie; the idol-maker cannot deliver himself from his idolatry, but even worse, he is oblivious to the lie that has deceived him.
Those verses in the context of today’s New Testament reading suggest that idolatry could be a large reason for spiritual blindness. Jesus said to His disciples:
“'See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written about the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished. For he will be delivered over to the Gentiles and will be mocked and shamefully treated and spit upon. And after flogging him, they will kill him, and on the third day he will rise.’ But they understood none of these things. This saying was hidden from them, and they did not grasp what was said.” (Luke 18:31–34)
The disciples, like most of the people of Israel, were expecting a Messiah that would deliver them from political oppression and restore to them the greatness of their nation. In other words, they preconceived a Messiah of their choice and when Jesus arrived and talked about deliverance from sin and His crucifixion they didn’t get it. Their notion of ‘Messiah’ blinded them to the reality of God’s plan.
A young woman we knew had the idea that Jesus would never allow pain or suffering. We were discussing how He uses the challenges of life to change us into His image, but she said, “My Jesus would never do that.” She had a Jesus in mind that was an idol, not the true Messiah.
The cults are the same. One of them believes in a created being that is secondary to God. One of their members indicated that Jesus was deceptive and would lie to his followers. That is not the Jesus of the Bible, but their determination created an ‘idol’ resulting in blindness to the real Messiah.
I once thought God was like my dad. I didn’t realize this was idol-making. My interpretation of God blinded me to much of what God really is, that He is far greater than my dad and certainly not going to treat me the same way. Without the revealing power of God, I’d be stuck with that and blind to His true nature.
Chambers’ words take a different path for this passage. However, a couple of lines give my heart reassurance about idols and spiritual blindness. Chambers says, “The call of God is like the call of the sea, no one hears it but the one who has the nature of the sea in him . . . A Christian is one who trusts the wits and the wisdom of God, and not his own wits. If we have a purpose of our own, it destroys the simplicity and the leisureliness which ought to characterize the children of God.”
Idols will fill our hearts with complications and unease because idols cannot satisfy like God satisfies. An idol leaves me craving more and more, but with God I have all that I need — I am content.