Posted July 22, 2013
3 “Listen to me, O house of Jacob,
all the remnant of the house of Israel,
who have been borne by me from before your birth,
carried from the womb;
4 even to your old age I am he,
and to gray hairs I will carry you.
I have made, and I will bear;
I will carry and will save.
God spoke these words to Israel through the prophet Isaiah, and through them reveals some powerful truths about Himself and while providing a contrast with two of Babylon’s chief gods Bel and Nebo (see Isaiah 46:1-2).
These verses start with God crying out to His people, “Listen to me...” Why don’t we wonder at this truth more often? Though God could be silent, He is not! He wants to be known. Do you want to know God? Read God’s words in the Bible and ask Him to reveal Himself to you! See the culmination of God’s revelation in the face of His Son Jesus Christ who died on the cross for our sins. Whereas Babylon’s idols were mute, God was indeed not!
The Babylonian idols were formed and fashioned by man’s hands out of materials that were already created and in existence. God, on the other hand, created all that is, forming and fashioning ex-nihilo (out of nothing). He is an endless well of power and creativity, the source by which we derive our power and creativity! He is always in the place of Creator and we always exist as creatures and co-creators (never solo, independent of God).
We are carried by God from the womb to the tomb! This is a way of saying that sustains us in each and every season of our lives. There is never a “God-less” season, but His faithfulness extends to each and every one, no matter how hard or difficult. In his commentary on Isaiah, Ray Ortlund talks about Babylon’s gods:
”Who are Bel and Nebo? Bel was the patron-god of Babylon, the king of the gods and determiner of the destinies of nations. Nebo was his eldest son, the secretary of the council of gods and custodian of the Tablets of Destiny. (The Bible has already introduced us to them indirectly through the Babylonian names Belshazzar and Nebuchadnezzar.) These gods represented the ideals of Babylonia. In the official view of things, it was the authority of these gods that validated Babylon as the lead culture of the world. This was acted out annually at their New Year Festival. The images of Bel and Nebo were carried in grand procession through the city as tokens of good fortune for the coming year.
But Isaiah looks at the same procession and what does he see? He doesn’t see Bel and Nebo triumphantly leading the way into the future. He sees them wearying the poor pack animals that have to lug these big, heavy idols through town. He isn’t dazzled by the official line. He sees the obvious. What’s that? If a god has to be carried, how can it carry you? If a god can’t help itself, how can it help you? If a god needs your strength, how can it strengthen you?”
God is always in the position of Carrier, never being carried. He does not need us, but rather we are always in need of Him... To be carried and sustained by Him.
Not only did God contrast Himself with the Babylonian gods by their “carrying” abilities, but also their “saving” abilities. The Babylonian idols were carried by the Babylonians and led them into captivity, whereas God carried His people and led them into salvation. In our generation, we have our own set of idols that we carry along, believing they will lead us to salvation but only have led us into increasing captivity. God, on the other had, still holds out salvation to those who will turn to His Son Jesus and trust in Him alone for their salvation!
This week’s song was written by Brad Kilman (http://www.bradkilmanmusic.com/) and recorded & mixed by Chris Clark. The artwork was created by Ty Wayne Carlson (www.tywayne.com), a designer out of Oklahoma City.