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Isaiah 46:1-7

YHWH vs. the gods

Introduction: New Year in Babylon

Babylonian New Year festival

Huge festival processions to the temple – ‘Mardok is re-enthroned’, ‘order returns’.

It is a spectacle. The re-enthronement is an important political act – guaranteed power to Babylon, the king is seen as Mardok’s, the chief Babylonian god, representative.

This represented and re-enforced the power of Babylon and Mardok.

The power of idols

Power, imagination and spectacle – Carnivale 560BC (v. 1)

To Israelites this re-enforced their powerlessness and the weakness of YHWH (as they and others saw it) – They/God have nothing, Babylon has Mardok, a king, a temple. Mardok is king.

Pomp, power and powerlessness – Israel in exile

Israel is in the middle of this huge empire, weak. Mardok is seen as more powerful than YHWH.

The power of idolatry – then and now

Danger of Israel trusting in Babylon’s gods, values, system, power. If they embrace Babylon and her gods, they will never be free, always in exile.

Now: Power of cultural values, system, spectacles (Olympic opening ceremony etc..), and etc. all represent values of culture. – Wealth, control, we feel powerless and drawn in. We’re in exile in this world.

The (un)reality of idols + ch. 44 – God shows them for what they are

Idols as human constructs (vv. 6-7a)

They represent cultural values, dreams etc.. We write ourselves and our cultures on the heavens - Gods made in THEIR IMAGE.

Idols do not hear, they cannot save (vv. 7b, 1-2)

They cannot answer

The unreality of idols – then and now

Idols are nothing, powerless. When the constructs fail, the system collapses. In the end the idols cannot deliver what they promise.

46:1 – Procession, gods carried on high, then scattered, fall to the ground and ‘crush people’.

(Also: 1Cor. 8-10 (esp. ch. 10) – Paul says that when you give offerings to idols, you are sacrificing to DEMONS)

The reality of God

The one true God has acted in the past (v3; c/f 8-10)

v. 3: This God carries its people, not vice-versa like with idols.

The one true God will act in the future (v.4, c/f vv. 7b, 11-13)

God constructs His people, not vice-versa like with idols.

Trust the one true God in the present

Fall of Jerusalem is not the fall of YHWH like they thought, but the demonstration of His value. We should represent His values, aspirations, dreams etc.. not vice-versa like with idols.

v. 4: Heavens with them at the beginning, will be with them to the end and carry them.

In whom will we trust?

Carnivale 2000 – the spectacle of 21st century idolatry

Wealth and control and technology is our world, our carnivale, our gods, we trust them.

This text talks to the people of God.

Repenting of false trust

Wealth, control, technology etc are all products of our culture and are not inherently evil, but if we trust them (and/or misuse them) they are our idols.

The call to trust

We should identify our idols and repent. Turn from idols, gods of this age, to the true, living God.