Kia Ora Cambridge Baptist and our friends in Taumarunui, how’s the cabin fever going?
One of the biggest ironies for me about being in lock down as a sports lover is now that I have the time to watch sports and a free pass to do so, there is no live sport to watch. No rugby, no basketball and no Premier League. In one foul swoop the Coronavirus has taken a hammer to that Kiwi idol and laid waste to it.
In today’s passage we see that God through the prophet Isaiah has a few things to say about idolatry and God’s desire to free us from its insidious slavery. Who knew that he could use a virus to do it. So, let’s get into the passage.
Isaiah 42: 1-9
“Here is my servant, whom I uphold,
my chosen one in whom I delight;
I will put my Spirit on him,
and he will bring justice to the nations.
2 He will not shout or cry out,
or raise his voice in the streets.
3 A bruised reed he will not break,
and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.
In faithfulness he will bring forth justice;
4 he will not falter or be discouraged
till he establishes justice on earth.
In his teaching the islands will put their hope.”
5 This is what God the Lord says—
the Creator of the heavens, who stretches them out,
who spreads out the earth with all that springs from it,
who gives breath to its people,
and life to those who walk on it:
6 “I, the Lord, have called you in righteousness;
I will take hold of your hand.
I will keep you and will make you
to be a covenant for the people
and a light for the Gentiles,
7 to open eyes that are blind,
to free captives from prison
and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness.
8 “I am the Lord; that is my name!
I will not yield my glory to another
or my praise to idols.
9 See, the former things have taken place,
and new things I declare;
before they spring into being
I announce them to you.”
In the previous chapters of Isaiah God lays out a case against Israel for continuing to pursue false idols. Although, they ultimately enslaved and failed them. But in this passage, Isaiah prophecies that God’s chosen “servant” will bring about justice and free those bound in “the dungeons” (v. 7) because God will not continue to yield his glory to another or his praise to an idol.
We don’t normally equate idolatry to being in a dungeon, but it does bring to my mind many of our teenagers and young men who lock themselves in their darkened rooms for hours wasting some of the best years of their lives playing computer games online.
God hates idols because we are worshipping and sacrificing both time and money to things that really don’t deserve it. As we have seen in this current crisis when we turn to them, they can’t save us - or even bring us comfort.
However, the Christian message is that Jesus Christ “the Chosen One,” truly deserves our worship and praise because he first loved and served us, and he comes to open our eyes to our idolatry and free us from it.
The question for us is how can we know God and delight in who He is in such a way that we begin to replace the idols in our lives with true worship? In verses 1-4, we see the answer is by beholding the one in whom God himself “delights.” The one who has given everything for us, including laying down his life. To “behold” means to both see and consider. Isaiah calls Israel to see and consider the Lord through his servant; appointed by God and supported by his Spirit. And we would do well to take this same message to heart.
In beholding this servant, we can clearly distinguish what is real from what is counterfeit (Isaiah 41).
Verse 3 tells us that this servant, who has from afar long beheld us, knows that we are weak and fragile like a bruised reed, that we struggle to leave our idols behind, so he will complete his task with the gentleness of a friend (v. 3).
So, during this lock down period why don’t you spend time beholding and considering the Son, consider how he found joy in serving the Father even unto death, for you. Then, through the work of the Spirit the delight you will find in Jesus will loosen the grip that idols like sport will have on your life and you will truly be free of your dungeon when the lock-down ends.
Father, Son and Holy Spirit, we praise you that the fullness of the Godhead is at work and in full view here in this passage to bring an end to idolatry and the suffering that comes from it. We thank you for your Word that we may gaze into it. We delight in you for sending a servant-king, Jesus Christ, who truly has come to “set the captives free”. In Christ’s Name, Amen.
May God’s peace and protection be on you all.