As a people they had experienced it all. Having been delivered from bondage by God’s mighty hand, they experienced what it was to live under the cloud of His presence by day and the pillar of His light by night. Then, once they were in the land of plenty, they started exalting themselves, taking credit for the blessings of land, cities, and harvest as if it were the result of their own doing. But things went south fast as everyone lived to do what was right in their own eyes. And so, God used the peoples around them to discipline them.
Then they decided that what was needed was a king like the nations around them in order to defend their borders. Political structure, they thought, would be the answer. Not so much. Under the kings there was division and a growing “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” mentality. Thus the wooden and metal gods of the nations surrounding Israel became the idols of the people within Israel. Spiritual arrogance gave way to spiritual adultery.
And God will not share His glory with any other thing–whether that thing be wood, metal, or human in nature. Thus judgment. Thus the prophets. Thus Isaiah.
But the tone shifts dramatically in Isaiah when you hit chapter forty. Warnings of judgment shift to pleas for repentance. Though God would judge, though His people would find their beloved Zion in ruins and many of them would be sitting in Babylon, yet through His prophet, God calls them to return. And the heart of that call, at least based on my current readings in Isaiah, is an appeal to remember something. And that something is that there is no other.
“Remember this and stand firm, recall it to mind, you transgressors, remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose . . . ‘”
(Isaiah 46:8-10 ESV)
Repeatedly throughout Isaiah 44, 45, and 46 the call for clarity echoes:
“I am the first and I am the last; besides Me there is no God” (44:6b)
“Is there a God besides Me? There is no Rock; I know not any.” (44:8b)
“I am the LORD, and there is no other. I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create calamity, I am the LORD, who does all these things.” (45:7)
“There is no god besides me, a righteous God and a Savior, there is none besides me.” (45:21b)
To a people created to worship and prone to worship everything but the Creator, God cries out, “Give your head a shake! See the fruit of your self-worship. Behold the waste of following the world’s lead. Look at the emptiness of your idol worship. And return to Me. For there is no other.”
And it’s in remembering this that we stand firm. In recalling this that we maintain equilibrium. In believing this that we keep on keepin’ on.
To be sure we’re prone to wander. And equally to be sure storms of trial and suffering have a way of blowing us off course. But when we remember that there is no other God but our god it has a way of drawing the wandering heart back to heaven. A way of directing the wayward ship toward safe harbor.
My heart stirred this morning, my soul calmed, as I’m reminded that He is God, and there is no other.
Because of His grace. Only for His glory.