Crazy! That’s what it is. Isaiah doesn’t use the word, but that’s kind of what he’s saying. Crazy!
Give your head a shake, man! The same tree that you cut down and burn for fuel, you also fashion into a god and worship. Half you burn in the fire, and the other half, before it you fall. What you don’t deliver to become ashes you design as an idol, and to it you cry, “Deliver me, for you are my god!”
How does that make any sense at all? How does the inanimate have such rule over a living being fashioned in the image of the living God? Short answer: a deluded heart.
They know not, nor do they discern, for He has shut their eyes, so that they cannot see, and their hearts, so that they cannot understand. No one considers, nor is there knowledge or discernment to say, “Half of it I burned in the fire; I also baked bread on its coals; I roasted meat and have eaten. And shall I make the rest of it an abomination? Shall I fall down before a block of wood?” He feeds on ashes; a deluded heart has led him astray, and he cannot deliver himself or say, “Is there not a lie in my right hand?”
(Isaiah 44:19-20 ESV)
The sub-heading in my Bible says The Folly of Idolatry. How true.
It makes no sense. But what power the worship of gods that are no gods can have over the hearts and minds of people. How deep is the pit it baits. How firm a grip the trap it lures the undiscerning into. So that its victims essentially try and feed on ashes. Becoming prey beyond the ability to deliver themselves. A deluded heart having led them astray.
What a warning of the insidious allure and entanglement of idols in the lives of men and women. Those things that are pursued to such a degree that they command a person’s allegiance–as evident in their priorities and where their time, talents, and treasures are spent. Things that displace worship, sucking away the love and adoration intended for the only One worthy of our love and adoration. Things that harden the heart, making callous the spirit, deceptively saying, “This is life,” when, in fact, they are no life at all. Things that so consume the heart that, eventually, God gives the heart over to its fake gods (Rom. 1:24, 26, 28). The result? Eyes that are shut and cannot see. A heart that is hard, unable to understand.
A deluded heart. A deceiving heart. A heart that leads astray. Cheating both God and man of worship that is true worship. Offering meaningless counterfeits instead of a cause which is a true cause. Faking death as life and robbing those created for life of the life which is true life, life to the full.
So gripping the man, so enveloping the woman, that they cannot deliver themselves, unable to recognize that they are holding onto a lie.
But what idol worshipers are unable to do for themselves, the God worthy of worship is able to do for them. To bring sight to the blind. To bring clarity to the deceived. To remove the darkness and replace it with light.
And our part? Ours is to return to Him.
I have blotted out your transgressions like a cloud and your sins like mist; return to Me, for I have redeemed you.
(Isaiah 44:22 ESV)
The remedy for a deluded heart? His redemption.
The way of escape of idolatry’s allure and entrapment? “Return to Me!”
By His grace. For His glory.