Monday, November 13, 2017

Babylon's Idols

"Bel boweth down, Nebo stoopeth, their idols were upon the beasts, and upon the cattle: your carriages were heavy loaden; they are a burden to the weary beast. They stoop, they bow down together; they could not deliver the burden, but themselves are gone into captivity. Hearken unto me, O house of Jacob, and all the remnant of the house of Israel, which are borne by me from the belly, which are carried from the womb: And even to your old age I am he; and even to hoar hairs will I carry you: I have made, and I will bear; even I will carry, and will deliver you." (Isaiah 46:1-4)

As Cyrus, Babylon and her kings were instruments in the hand of the Lord to deal with Israel and the world as God saw fit. Unaware of her servitude, Babylon continued proudly in her idolatry only to be cast down by the Persians whom God had stirred.

Bel and Nebo were Babylonian deities. Isaiah presents them as being carried off by the enemy. Crafted of silver and gold and being of great weight, they were a wearisome load for the animals which carried them on carts. There is no need to pinpoint the exact time in history at which these events took place. Whether under the hands of the Persians or of some other people, all of Babylon's idols eventually came to nothing. On the night of his blasphemy, Belshazzar rested in the power of his gods to deliver him, but they too fell.

In opposition to Babylon's powerless idols stands the God of Israel. He is not presented as being carried off by the enemy but rather as carrying His people through the countless attacks of the enemy. The Lord's care is from conception to death. Even over faithless Israel, God presided; and one can hear in His declarations a call for repentant faith in His saving power. Ultimately, the Lord's ability to carry Israel through all hardships will manifest itself fully in Christ's kingdom.

"To whom will ye liken me, and make me equal, and compare me, that we may be like? They lavish gold out of the bag, and weigh silver in the balance, and hire a goldsmith; and he maketh it a god: they fall down, yea, they worship. They bear him upon the shoulder, they carry him, and set him in his place, and he standeth; from his place shall he not remove: yea, one shall cry unto him, yet can he not answer, nor save him out of his trouble." (Isaiah 46:5-7)

The Lord presents His incomparable nature. God cannot be duplicated. He has no "beginning of days nor end of life (Hebrews 7:3)." The word lavish means to provide abundantly. The idolater is not afraid to spend great wealth on his idol. His god lacks no physical beauty or monetary value, yet it is worthless. It is spiritually destitute, and its physical beauty and worth only serve to distract further the unwise man.

Isaiah continues to emphasize the fact that man's gods cannot carry but must be carried. Their physical helplessness reflects their spiritual helplessness. Over against them stands the true God Who graciously carries mankind and is "the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe (I Timothy 4:10)."

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