Friday, July 23, 2010

A World With No Idols

"God's goal is a world without idols."  (wait, read that again!)  "GOD'S GOAL IS A WORLD WITHOUT IDOLS.  Therefore, in the end, he will be either the Savior or the Judge of everyone" (ESV Study Bible notes on Isaiah 45:23-25).

God's goal is glorifying himself alone in all the universe - showing off his amazing glory to all of creation, which also brings ultimate joy to the creatures!  Seeing God's glory is the highest joy, and delighting in other things that are not God (idolatry) robs God of glory and robs us of ultimate joy.  So ridding the universe of all idols is God's goal, which we see throughout Scripture. 

This creates a problem for us, because we are all idol worshipers!  Some actually, physically bow down to carved images, but others are idolaters of the heart, worshiping the created rather than the Creator; loving the gift but not the Giver.  Even if we were to be forgiven of our past idolatry, our hearts are idol-factories which continually look for new things to treasure and delight in rather than in God. 

So to achieve this goal of a world without idols God will be, for EVERYONE, either Savior or Judge.  He will either judge the idolater for his sin, ridding the world of idolatry through righteous judgment, OR (praise God!) he will RESCUE the idolater from his sin, ridding the world of idolatry through gracious salvation (in their case Jesus' death on the cross, where he paid the fine for idolatry and bore the wrath of God in the place of sinners will be applied to them through faith!).  So, whether by acting as Judge or as Savior, God will destroy all idolatry.  It will be destroyed in those he judges by pouring out on them the righteous wrath of God for eternity so that the universe sees the glory of God in his wrath, or it will be destroyed in those he saves by pouring out that wrath on Jesus in their place at the cross and setting them free from the power of idolatry so that they worship God alone.  The result is that God alone will be glorified.  Even those he judges for idolatry will ultimately bow the knee to God and confess he is Lord!

Here are all the pieces to this idea in one passage of Scripture:
By myself I have sworn; from my mouth has gone out in righteousness a word that shall not return: 'To me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear allegiance.' (this is the world without idols). "Only in the LORD, it shall be said of me, are righteousness and strength; to him shall come and be ashamed all who were incensed against him (this is the judging of idolaters, which is the immediate context of Isaiah 45).  "In the LORD all the offspring of Israel shall be justified and shall glory" (this is the saving of his covenant people to glory in God alone!)  Isaiah 45:23-25, ESV (my comments in parentheses)
Praise God!  He WILL realize his goal, for "the counsel of the LORD stands forever, the plans of his heart to all generations" (Psalm 33:11).  The earth WILL "be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD as the waters cover the sea" (Habakkuk 2:14)!!  There WILL be a world without idols.  We will be rescued from what hinders our freely delighting in God, and God alone will be glorified.  What a day!!!

Therefore God says,
They have no knowledge who carry about their wooden idols, and keep on praying to a god that cannot save.  ...there is no other god besides me, a righteous God and a Savior; there is none besides me. Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth!  For I am God, and there is no other.  (Isaiah 45:20b, 21b-22, ESV)

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