John 5:30-47 (ESV)
30 “I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge, and my judgment is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me. 31 If I alone bear witness about myself, my testimony is not deemed true. 32 There is another who bears witness about me, and I know that the testimony that he bears about me is true. 33 You sent to John, and he has borne witness to the truth. 34 Not that the testimony that I receive is from man, but I say these things so that you may be saved. 35 He was a burning and shining lamp, and you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light. 36 But the testimony that I have is greater than that of John. For the works that the Father has given me to accomplish, the very works that I am doing, bear witness about me that the Father has sent me. 37 And the Father who sent me has himself borne witness about me. His voice you have never heard, his form you have never seen, 38 and you do not have his word abiding in you, for you do not believe the one whom he has sent. 39 You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life. 41 I do not receive glory from people. 42 But I know that you do not have the love of God within you. 43 I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not receive me. If another comes in his own name, you will receive him. 44 How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God? 45 Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father. There is one who accuses you: Moses, on whom you have set your hope. 46 For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me. 47 But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?”
Isaiah 44:9-20 (ESV)
All who fashion idols are nothing, and the things they delight in do not profit. Their witnesses neither see nor know, that they may be put to shame. 10 Who fashions a god or casts an idol that is profitable for nothing? 11 Behold, all his companions shall be put to shame, and the craftsmen are only human. Let them all assemble, let them stand forth. They shall be terrified; they shall be put to shame together. 12 The ironsmith takes a cutting tool and works it over the coals. He fashions it with hammers and works it with his strong arm. He becomes hungry, and his strength fails; he drinks no water and is faint. 13 The carpenter stretches a line; he marks it out with a pencil. He shapes it with planes and marks it with a compass. He shapes it into the figure of a man, with the beauty of a man, to dwell in a house. 14 He cuts down cedars, or he chooses a cypress tree or an oak and lets it grow strong among the trees of the forest. He plants a cedar and the rain nourishes it. 15 Then it becomes fuel for a man. He takes a part of it and warms himself; he kindles a fire and bakes bread. Also he makes a god and worships it; he makes it an idol and falls down before it. 16 Half of it he burns in the fire. Over the half he eats meat; he roasts it and is satisfied. Also he warms himself and says, “Aha, I am warm, I have seen the fire!” 17 And the rest of it he makes into a god, his idol, and falls down to it and worships it. He prays to it and says, “Deliver me, for you are my god!” 18 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. 19 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?” 20 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?”
Let’s be honest about something, shall we. When we read the Gospels or the Prophets we really don’t like to identify with the Pharisees or the rebellious nation of Israel. We like to believe that we are beyond this type of blind antagonism toward God and His word. We want to believe that we are the remnant, the faithful few that will be there in the very end. Like Peter, we cry out, “I will lay down my life for you.” And the Truth is that those of us whom God has called and preserved are the remnant. The Truth of our lives is that God through Christ laying down His life has made us the True Israel. We are this but the true that we often operate in right now tends to reflect a heart posture of the Pharisees, Sadducees and rebellious Israel.
“You refuse to come to me that you may have life” Jesus says in John. “How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?” Your systems of righteousness, your interpretation of Scripture and expounded has led to blindness and not sight. You look for a revelation that meets your own desires. The fulfilment of Scripture is in front of you and you refuse to see it because you are too busy patting each other on the back about how you have figured out what God is doing.
Isaiah reminds us that we fashion idols out of the very things we value most. We do work, eat, provide shelter and warmth for ourselves and fashion gods out of the same material. Vs.19,20 says, “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 lead him astray, and he cannot deliver himself or say, ‘I there not a lie in my right hand?”
Our descriptive hearts so quickly convinces us that our adherence to right doctrine is what saves us. Our hearts so quickly convinces us that our diligent worship and bible study make the way of entrance into God’s favour. Our hearts so quickly convinces us that our courageous acts of mercy and service wash us clean of our selfishness and present us holy for God’s acceptance. A cause, a system, a style, a method can quickly become God for us. They are the things that we put our hope in for salvation and righteousness. We think that we are feasting on the goodness of God’s Truth and find our mouth full of the ashes of our burned true. The thing we have elevated in place of the Gospel.
Jesus, His life, death, and resurrection is the only thing that matters. This is the Truth. It is only through Jesus that we can become sons and daughters of God. It is only through Jesus that we become who we were created to be. Jesus is our all in all. I am to believe. Trust. Rest. Worship.
Father, turn my eyes away from all my idols. Turn my eyes toward your Son Jesus Christ. Let me look fully at Him and see His sacrifice and victorious resurrection as my only hope. Teach me to trust that you have done everything that is need for my salvation. Keep me from trusting the things that do not lead to righteousness but away from it. Keep me from putting my faith in my own actions and desires. Keep me from trusting the good things I do to provide me anything. Let them be acts of devotion, worship and thanksgiving springing from a broken and soft heart that is being lovingly restored by your Truth and righteousness. Amen
Often our striving and clinging to idols springs from the thought that we could not possible be loved by God the way that we are so we think and feel that we need to do something first before coming to God. Take time during this Lenten season to put to memory Romans 8. Don’t do this to gain anything but to serve as a reminder that God has already gained all that you need. This is the Truth of who you are.