Chapter 44:9-20 shines logical light on the illogical actions of these god makers. "Who but a mad man, or one out of his wits, would think of forming a god, of making that which, if he make it a god, he must suppose to be his maker? The workmen that formed this god are of men, weak and impotent, and therefore cannot possibly make a being that shall be omnipotent." (Matthew Henry)
Here's the breakdown as Isaiah presents it:
2. Graven images are made of "stuff!" "Another shapes wood...." (vs 13). These particular images are made out of a tree fetched from a forest. At other times idols are said to be made of gold or silver or brass - perhaps considered a bit more precious to certain eyes than wood. Regardless they are all made of common, ordinary things. Even the most precious of gems and jewels are still "stuff." God, by virtue of what the term means must be more than "stuff," He is the Maker and Sustainer of all "stuff." He must be above the ordinary. He must be beyond the common.
3. Graven images are made in the "image" of some-thing. "Another shapes wood...and makes it like the form of a man, so that it may sit in a house" (vs 13). Here in this passage of Isaiah that image is a man. The Scripture teaches that we were created in the image of God and ever since the fall we've tried to distort that distinction by imagining God to be created in our own!
"He makes it according to the beauty of a man, but altogether unfit to represent the beauty of the LORD God. God put a great honor on man when, in respect to his soul, He made him after the image of god. But man does a great dishonor to God when he makes Him, in respect to bodily parts, after the image of man. All the beauty of the body of a man, when pretended to be put upon Him who is an infinite Spirit, is a deformity and dimunition to Him." (Matthew Henry)
Part of the tree was used for the image, part of the tree was used for heat, and part of the tree was used for cooking. It's a tree! An ordinary, everyday tree! It wasn't even able to protect itself from being chopped down, cut up, or burned. How will it ever protect you?!
Matthew Henry points out that "certainly the part of the tree which served him for fuel, the use for which God and nature designed it, does him a much greater kindness and yields him more satisfaction than ever that will of which he makes a god."
Verses 18-20 close this section with a clear declaration of the foolish inability to reason that these idolators are overcome by. "They do not know, nor do they understand, for He has smeared over their eyes so that they cannot see and their hearts so they cannot comprehend. And no one recalls nor is there knowledge or understnading to say, 'I have burned half of it in the fire, and also have baked bread over its coals. i roast meat and eat it. Then I make the rest of it inot an abomination, I fall down before a block of wood!"
Paul, speaking by inspiration of the Holy Spirit says, "For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks; but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four footed animals and crawling creatures. Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, that their bodies might be dishonored among them. For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen."" (Ro 1:21-25)
These idolators "fall down before a block of wood!" Sin makes us stupid! Sin makes me stupid! Whenever I turn from the living and true God, whenever I put anything or anyone before Him I am literally falling down before a block of wood!
Verse 20 states that the idolator "feeds on ashes; a deceived heart has turned him aside. And he cannot deliever himself, nor say, 'Is there not a lie in my right hand?'" These folks are self-deceived. They need to heed Peter's admonition to "examine themselves." We need to heed Peter's admonition to "examine ourselves." I need to heed Peter's admonition to "examine myself!" "Self-suspicion is the first step towards self-deliverence" (Henry).
Suspicous of myself I must ask: What "wood" am I worshipping this day? While I may not be carving graven images from the cedars of the forest, I am quite likely creating images in the halls of my heart? What people, what desires, what "rights", what dreams, what goals of good intention are being formed into "god stuff" within me? What creatures, what creations am I placing above the Creator? Those things I need to lay on the altar. That idolatry I need to repent of while turning fresh and anew to loving the Lord my God with all my heart, mind, soul, and strength.
May God help me to view the things of this world rightly, to use them for their created purposes, and to have no other gods before Him.
A repenting idolator,