Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise: Living Ethically in the Light of the Bible
Luke 22:31-38; Hebrews 9:1-10; Proverbs 24:23-34; Isaiah 44
The passage in Isaiah denounces the pursuit of idols made by human hands, calling on people to turn to the God who pursues humans. God begins by declaring himself to be unique and the only one who can bring stability to our lives. Yet we as a race continue to turn to worthless idols to save us. In doing so, we treat ourselves as if we were worthless (Isaiah 44:9).
Isaiah describes the process of idol-making. Certainly, the work is painstakingly detailed. It requires great skill and effort. There is no suggestion that those who make idols are not sincere. People get hungry and grow weary as they exert great effort in building what they have envisioned (v. 12). Isaiah works through the process in reverse order, taking us back to where it all began. The beauty and details of the finished idol should not blind us to the fact that it all began with a lump of wood, half of which was burned in the kitchen fire.
Isaiah uses logic and clear thinking to expose the clouded reasoning of the idol worshipper. How could the tree that we burned do anything to save us? To think it could only highlights our mental and spiritual blindness. But no one stops to think about what they are doing.
In the same way, we are blind to the idols we manufacture in our lives. We don’t carve wooden idols, but we build idols of our careers and with our money. We likewise need to walk back logically from the things that consume our lives to expose their underlying inability to make our lives whole and meaningful. Do we invest our lives in building monuments to our wealth? Think clearly. How could a bigger house, a faster car, a newer processor truly make our lives meaningful? Do we wear ourselves out chiselling our bodies or allowing surgeons to cosmetically shape us? But beautiful bodies go into the same place as every other body. Do we twist our minds into tortuous knots worrying about what other think or might be thinking? Yet those people are just like me and you, fellow travellers whose opinions have no more power over who I am than anyone else’s.
There is one whose opinion is of supreme value; One whose desire to be in a relationship with us has the power to shape our eternal destiny; One who holds out eternal salvation for all who will return to him and be redeemed. That same One True God gave us minds to think seriously about these things. He formed and shaped us in the womb (Isaiah 44:2, 24). We think we have fashioned our lives, but in fact God is the true Creator. He knows what we were made for and how best we should live our lives. He gave us minds to think through the deception that lies around us. This passage calls on us to use those minds in the pursuit of the truth about who he is and how we should live the life he has given us.