Isaiah 44

Isaiah 44

Throughout the Jewish Scriptures we find mocking remarks directed against idols and idolatry. The prophets describe the idols as: “… those who do not see or hear…” (Deuteronomy 4:28, Psalm 115:5, see also Habakuk 2:18). The prophets ridicule idols of wood and stone (Deuteronomy 28:36, 29:16, 2Kings 19:18, Ezekiel 20:32). The Scriptures describe idolatry as worshiping the handiwork of men (Deuteronomy 27:15, 31:29, 1Kings 16:7, Isaiah 2:8, 37:19, Jeremiah 10:3, Hosea 14:4, Micah 5:12, Psalm 135:15).

In this same spirit, Isaiah presents us with a vivid teaching on the subject of idolatry (Isaiah 44:6-20). The prophet describes how the craftsman exerts himself to create an idol. The prophet then speaks of the wood that is used to make the statue. Isaiah points out how one part of the wood is used to provide heat and cooking fuel for the same person who worships the image that had been fashioned from the other half of the same piece of wood.

What is the point of all this? Most idolaters would argue that it is not the statue that they are worshiping, but rather they worship the spirit that the statue represents. Furthermore, throughout history, many idolaters worshiped natural objects such as the sun, the moon, cats, cows and various people. How do the Scriptural lessons on idolatry pertain to these idolaters? Why is there so much emphasis on mocking the physical statue when in many cases the actual statue is not the focus of the idolater’s devotion?

When we understand the underlying principle of worship and devotion we will be able to appreciate the Scriptural lesson.

Worship of the Divine demands that one submit totally and unconditionally to God. Such absolute submission is only appropriate from created towards Creator, from one who is intrinsically a subject to One who is intrinsically the Master. The One who created everything and continuously sustains everything already owns every facet of our existence. It all belongs to Him and to Him alone. In submitting ourselves to Him we are merely acknowledging the truth of our complete dependence upon His mercy.

The key principles of worship and devotion are: Creator, the One to whom we belong, and the Master who is inherently the Master of all.

With this understanding we can now look at the Scriptural mockery of idolatry with clarity. Every statue is but a symbol, a representative of some concept or some entity. The statue will have to share some commonality, real or imagined, with the concept or entity that it is meant to represent. A statue can be used to symbolize almost any concept or entity. One can create a statue to represent the concepts of prosperity, of good fortune, of fertility, of strength, of forgiveness from sin and of human excellence.

There is one concept that can never be represented by a statue. There is one entity that can share no commonality with any physical body. That concept is the concept of “intrinsic Master” and “Creator of all”. When we think in the terms of “Creator versus created” and “the true Owner of all versus His subjects” – every entity that can be encompassed by our finite minds – will fall on the side of created and subject. There is nothing that can be used to represent the true Master and Creator because everything that we might use is equally subject and created by the Master and Creator.

The mockery of the prophets focuses on the concepts of “Creator” and “Master”. When one creates a statue and submits himself or herself to it – then the concept of worship has been completely subverted. The human is the creator of the statue, and the wood from which the statue is formed is actually the servant of man in the heat and light with which humanity is served. Whoever bows to a statue cannot be thinking in the terms of “Creator” and “Master”, because the statue is both “created” and “servant”.

Any worship aside from the worship of the One infinite Creator of all can be represented by a statue. Let us take the Christian devotion to Jesus as an example. Jesus was contained in a physical body that walked this earth. There is no intrinsic reason why he cannot be represented by a replica of his physical body. Since Jesus was limited to a physical body there is no reason why a finite physical body cannot be used to represent him.

In fact those who worship Jesus do not think in the terms of “Creator” or “the One to whom all belong”. The Christian devotees of Jesus think in the terms of obtaining forgiveness from sin, escaping the fires of hell, and acquiring a place in eternal life. If these followers of Jesus were to ask themselves: “does this man already own every facet of my existence?” – “is this man the Creator of all existence?” – they would not be directing their worship and devotion to a finite inhabitant of God’s earth. It is only when these crucial questions are ignored that the path is open for idolatry.

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Yisroel C. Blumenthal

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24 Responses to Isaiah 44

  1. Brian Jamieson says:

    I spent the majority of my life having been raised christian; “as an expectation” not really caring one way or the other; what did I really do to deserve damnation to a lake of fire?
    It was always everyone else that was mean to me, and or someone else’s idea, what I considered evil in my mind, only through frustration, hurt and inevitably anger did I act out towards others in like manner, with the desire for others to in fact feel what I had.
    Certainly this was my subconcience calling out for help.
    I am much older now, and life takes on a whole another aspect of importance for me; after much study only did I realize everything I had ever been led to believe was completely false.
    I have taken a stance leaning towards Judaism, and sternly rejecting christianity, and refuting it, I only wish others could see the fallacy of it, and the implications, that obviously point to Idolatry.
    Very nice documentary, keep up the good work
    שלום

  2. Paul Evans says:

    Quite fitting you should post this on Independence Day. After all, don’t we begin most sporting events and patriotic parades by mass worship of a red, white, and blue idol? Reminds me of the plight of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.

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  5. Annelise says:

    A lot of the principles in this article are really well expressed… I need to spend time understanding them more deeply. I really agree with you that the prophets emphasised the fact that God is Creator and Master as the reason why idolatry is ridiculed. Part of the nature, role, and identity of a human being is to worship God as the true Owner of all His subjects… even though He let humans rule over creation, we stand with every single thing within creation in looking to Him as our maker.

    I don’t believe that all Christians ignore the terms of ‘Creator’ or ‘the One to whom all belong’. It’s not just about being rescued from judgment and having sins forgiven; it’s an actual belief that the very self of Jesus was the person of the God who made everything. It’s complicated and it does mix the categories, but in a way that tries very hard to avoid idolatry/heresy.

    Still, everything you’re saying here has a powerful and deep bearing on the issue at hand. The fact that God alone is our source, the source of everything we love and need, and the only one who owns and deserves us, is the reason for our worship and a big part of our identity as humans. The incarnation claim changes the nature of what humans, and God, are understood to be from that time forward… and tears at the nature of what relationship Biblically means between Himself and us. Thanks for the depth and honest love for Him with which you’ve seen these things and passed them on in writing.

  6. TMD says:

    I’m not sure where this argument is supposed to be going. The New Testament repeatedly teaches that Jesus is the creator of all things. An example in Colossians 1:

    He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. (Colossians 1:15-17)

    Quick note: firstborn (πρωτότοκος) in Greek is a title of rank, and does not imply being created in the way that the English term does.

    The author of Hebrews echoes this notion:

    But of the Son he says,
    “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever,
    the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your kingdom.
    You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness;
    therefore God, your God, has anointed you
    with the oil of gladness beyond your companions.”

    And,
    “You, Lord, laid the foundation of the earth in the beginning,
    and the heavens are the work of your hands;
    they will perish, but you remain;
    they will all wear out like a garment,
    like a robe you will roll them up,
    like a garment they will be changed.
    But you are the same,
    and your years will have no end.” (Hebrews 1:8-12)

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  8. Eliyah Lion says:

    Yisroel, your view of Christianity is deformed for you are interacting with sects of Christianity that are heterodox, heretics that deformed the true Revelation. Talk with Orthodox theologians than you will be able to understand better true Christianity which is the accomplishment of the true Judaism. Actually true Judaism is equal to true Christianity.

    The Man Yahshuo(Yeshua) is the visible expression of the DABAR ELOHIM from which everything was created.

    YHWH his DABAR and his RUAH are ONE Essence
    ELOHIM(YHWH-DABAR-RUAH) is ONE

    YHWH is not ALONE but ELOHIM meaning HOLY-COMMUNION-ALLIANCE
    ELOHIM appears much more in the Tankh than EL or ELOAH or ELOHAI all words used to express a REALITY not being grasp by the common people.

    EL express the DIVINE PERSON of the FATHER ALMIGHTY
    ELOHAI (an ancient dual) express TWO DIVINE PERSONS
    ELOHIM express the COMMUNION of ALL DIVINE PERSONS

    All through Tanakh the real Hebrew and real Christian THEOLOGY is expressed. The Greek express it in Greek but that does not mean it is false but the Hebrew is more powerful to express the Mysteries.

    Stop bashing what you do not know for like Gamaliel said: if it is a fade the Messihim Religion it will disappear. Obviously I am still there two thousand years after Gamaliel pronounce his warning.

    Yisroel are you able to fight against the Elohim??

  9. Concerned Reader says:

    Lion, the Jewish Church of Jerusalem did in fact die out as a Jewish founded and Jewish lead movement. The last of the Torah observant followers of Jesus (the Ebionites and Nazarenes,) died out in the 4th century, and the Jewish headship in Jerusalem ceased with the appointment of the bishop Marcus, the first gentile bishop of Jerusalem.

    Gentile Christians do not observe the law of Moses as Jews, so, therefore, they ARE NOT JACOB!

    The early Jewish messianic sect of Jesus did in fact cease to exist, it became exclusively gentile. Jesus himself allegedly appointed seventy Jewish disciples, and had Peter, James, and John headquartered in Jerusalem in charge of the Church of the circumcision there. That church ceased to be Jewish with the sacking of Jerusalem.

    • Eliyah Lion says:

      If it were just one reminder of the Yerushala’im church it will still stand. I am a living testimony that Yerushala’im church is still standing. And I am sure that I am not alone.

      During the time of Eliyahu how many were still standing against Baal. Eliyahu was standing with only 7000 thoushand YHWH worshippers.

      Plus the Ebionites are sect of Judaism believing in a human messiah. They are not the Yerushala’im church who believed and still believe that the Messiah is Elohim the Dabar in the flesh.

      • Concerned Reader says:

        That’s it Lion. I can’t take your blatant refusal to have honest discussion anymore. See what HYPICRISY you are employing here Lion? You are not interested in A BALANCED discussion, you are just flatly dismissing every plain contextual understanding of Jewish history, scripture, and culture in favor of a theology WHICH YOU AND YOUR TEXT ADMIT IS built on RIDDLES AND PARABLES GIVEN BY JESUS.

        The Ebionites were JUST Toeah observant Pharisaic people who followed Jesus. Not unlike the disciples, when they first met Jesus, they saw him as anyone of the day would have seen him, as a human rabbi.

        The difference between them and you, is that they saw him as only fully human, and born normally, not at all divine, chosen to be messiah.

        Why are they labelled as heretics simply for believing that?

        EVEN THE NT ITSELF SAYS AND SHOWS ALL OVER THE PLACE THAT JESUS’ DISCIPLES DIDNT HAVE THE SLIGHTEST IDEA about Church doctrines like Jesus’ atoning death, (WHEN PETER OBJECTED TO THE THOUGHT OF HIS TEACHER DYING, JESUS CALLS HIM SATAN!) his deity, (THOMAS DIDNT KNOW UNTIL JESUS PERSONALLY SHOWED HIM.) etc.

        WE SEE THAT CORE CHRISTIAN THEOLOGY WAS NOT REVEALED AND EXPLAINED OPENLY UNTIL LONG AFTER JESUS DIED AND ALLEGEDLY ROSE UP FROM DEATH.

        WHEN JESUS FIRST SHOWED UP, EVEN YOUR GOSPEL SAYS EVERYONE (UNDERSTANDABLY) ASSUMED THAT HE WAS LITERALLY THE BIOLOGICAL SON OF JOSEPH, AND A HUMAN MESSIAH CANDIDATE LIKE EVERY OTHER MESSIAH CANDIDATE HAD BEEN AT THAT TIME!

        How can the Church possibly lay blame on religious Jews for clinging to their bible and traditions (WHICH TORAH ORDERS THEM TO DO?) CONSIDERING THAT JESUS HID HIS MESSIAHSHIP AND DOCTRIBES FROM THE MASSES?

        In Mark 4 IT IS PLAINLY STATED HOW JESUS SPOKE IN PARABLES SO THAT PEOPLE WOULDNT UNDERSTAND THE MYSTERIES. The Torah says G-d does not hide his will, but he reveals it openly to his servants.

        JESUS BY HIS OWN ACTIONS AND WORDS DID NOT OPENLY SPEAK, HE EXPECTED EVEYONE TO GUESS. FALSE MESSIAH, FAILED MESSIAH, AND ITS HIS OWN FAULT!

        • Eliyah Lion says:

          Con your accusation are full of emotion for you can not stand the truth plus you can not face a real Yehudi-Christian (not protestant, not catholic, not messianic or what ever) from the Davidic Race from Shama’im proclaiming the truth and the real Eternal Torah.

          Mosheh gave only the mitzvot and the path to life. The mysteries were not revealed nor to you nor to the masses for they can not bear it. You heart must be pure first. Purify your heart with the fire of the Ruah Holy than you will see…

          The Greek who received the Revelation understood the mysteries with their language. The ancients holy of the churches were purified in the desert (monasteries) first in order for them to articulate what they wrote as their understanding of the Mystery. But only with the Hebrew Tongue, the Holy Tongue can you understand all with a pure heart all the unsealed mysteries of Eloah.

          For you , you are right be obedient to all the mitzvot and also being a mitzvah do not insult a son of Israel that is not permitted to you nor anybody else.

          Shalom!!

          • Dina says:

            Lion, you wrote: “Do not insult a son of Israel that is not permitted to you nor anybody else.”

            If there are no exceptions, then you are much more the guilty one, as Con is a thousand times more respectful than you are. You insult people right and left here on this blog, whether Jew or Gentile. Practice what you preach.

      • Concerned Reader says:

        Are you a descendant of that first generation of Jesus followers Lion? Are you a Desposyni? (A descendant of Jesus?) No? Then you are not a preserved remnant of the Church of the circumcision at Jerusalem. Did a Jewish father teach you the tradition you believe in, or was it a gentile preacher?

        How can Ebionites be called heretics for believing that Jesus was only a human messiah when Jesus didn’t openly teach Christian mysteries to everyone that would imply otherwise? I believe the Ebionites were honest followers of Jesus who sought to live the Torah ethic as Jesus taught it, emphasizing the message of poverty that Jesus taught, and they merely viewed him as all Jews historically traditionally viewed the messiah, namely as a normal human being like Moses or David were normal human beings!

  10. Concerned Reader says:

    During the time of Eliyahu how many were still standing against Baal. Is traditional Judaism Baal worship Lion? Do Jews not strive to observe the commands that G-D gave Moses to the best of their ability? That’s what G-d commanded them, so are they blind for following that which they were given?

    • Eliyah Lion says:

      Your conception of EL is foreign to the Torah. You can not even say the Holy Name in prayers. That is not Torah!

      Eliyahu, in the combat against the priest of Baal, invoke the Holy Name YHWH to call for the holy fire to consume the watered sacrifice.

      Baal means Lord. True Judaism invoke EL with is Name for we are his beloved. What beloved invoke his Beloved by the expression Lord. That is not the Bereshit the Alliance of Love that YHWH wanted for his beloved Israel.

      You have been misled by Babylonian teaching not Sinai!!

  11. Concerned Reader says:

    If the Jewish people are blind and dumb to the Christian mysteries, it is because they are in the exact same boat that Peter and Thomas were in. Jesus’ teachings were not openly revealed. Only a tyrant would punish Jews for refusing to accept what they were not clearly shown.

    • Eliyah Lion says:

      Peter proclaimed that Yahsuo is the Messiah Ben Elohai!
      Thomas at the Resurrection apparition thinking it was a ghost asked the Messiah if he could put his fingers in his wound. He did and proclaimed: You are Adoni Elohi!

      For the rest of Yehudah you are right that they can not be blamed but now is the time to be educated for those who seek the truth. The debates we are having are necessary to purify our faith and test it. We must be confident that YHWH will not led astray his Beloved People.

      • Neither of you have a clue what you are even talking about, and both of you are blowing up my e-mail; with that said; please keep on topic; if you want to have xtian battles please take it elsewhere.

      • Dina says:

        Right, Hashem does not lead His beloved people astray. That is why they, alone among the many peoples and cultures of Europe, were able to resist the forcible imposition of Christianity upon the continent despite their weakness, small numbers, being scattered, and horrific persecution.

        Hashem does not lead His people astray and has therefore provided clear teachings about Whom to worship, and how, not only in Scripture but in the context of national revelation. He does not expect us to rely on hints buried deep in verses quoted out-of-context by idol-worshiping Christians.

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