“All who make idols are nothing, and what they treasure does not profit. Their witnesses do not see or know anything, so they will be put to shame. Who makes a god or casts a metal image for no profit? Look, all its worshipers will be put to shame, and the craftsmen are humans. They all will assemble and stand; they all will be startled and put to shame” (Isaiah 44:9-11).
All those who worship idols will be put to shame. This is because, of course, idols are made by men. They are crafted with human hands out of gold, silver, wood, or some other material which was, ironically, created by the one true God. As Isaiah 44 continues to say, a human will cut down a tree, use it to warm himself and cook his food, and then take some of the same material and fashion an image to which they bow down. And no matter how fervent their worship, no matter how deep their devotion, no matter how strong their belief, they will be put to shame in the end because their god is of their own making. An imaginary deity with made up powers.
It reminds me of the story of Elijah and the prophets of Baal, when all those who worshiped the false god were aligned against the prophet of the true God. Elijah had challenged them to call out to their god, asking him to consume an altar with his fire. And so the prophets called. And so they danced. And so they cut themselves. And they did so all day long with no response from their god. It must have been humiliating. Shameful. To be standing there, dripping with sweat and blood, exhausted with the exertion, and to have no response or validation from that which you have bowed down to.
Such is the fate of all of us who either knowingly or unknowingly dedicate ourselves to false gods. Whether the false god is made of wood, or whether it’s made of money, sex, power, ambition, or anything else, we will eventually be put to shame.
And though those idols cannot speak, they will all, in a way, ask us to shame ourselves.
Shame is the end result of the worship of any idol. That’s because false gods always end up asking you to do things that, at least in retrospect, are shameful. They ask you to lie. To cheat. To live in the shadows. They ask you to spend. To gratify. To obtain. These false gods compel you to go places you never thought you would, do things you never thought you would, and say things you never thought you would.
The false god of money asks you to sacrifice your integrity for more.
The false god of sex asks you to throw away the relationships most dear to you.
The false god of power asks you to use people and then throw them away when you have what you need.
And at the end, if we give ourselves to these gods, we might have been temporarily pleased but we will be eternally shamed.
But the God of Elijah? The God of Isaiah? The God of Jesus? This God will never ask you to shame yourself. There will never be a single time you look back on what the Lord God has told you to do with regret. There will never be a single time when you hang your head or avert your eyes.
Today, Christian, look to the future and see the road of the false gods. Look forward and see that the destination in one way or another is shame. And then turn to the one true God, who will indeed demand much from you, but will never ask you to shame yourself.