Isaiah 40 (Part 15) - Isa 40:16-20 - The Foolishness of Idolatry

Watch the video of this Bible study on YouTube: Isaiah 40 (Part 15) - Isa 40:16-20 - The Foolishness of Idolatry For a master copy of the outline and the other sermons in the series, click here: Isaiah 40. To listen to the previous sermon in the series, click here: Part 14 To listen to the next sermon in the series, click here: Part 16 XVI. Isa 40:16 1. "And Lebanon is not sufficient to burn,..." A. Lebanon was known for its many cedar trees (2Ki 19:23; 2Ch 2:8; Psa 104:16). B. If the Lord needed to start of fire, all the trees of it wouldn't even be enough for kindling. 2. "...nor the beasts thereof sufficient for a burnt offering." A. There were innumerable beasts creeping through the forests of Lebanon. B. But all those beasts burning upon a heap of all those trees could not be sufficient to satisfy our Mighty God. XVII. Isa 40:17 1. "All nations before him are as nothing;..." A. God is so wondrous that He considers all the nations of the world as nothing. B. Nothing - I. Not any (material or immaterial) thing; nought. C. God reputes all the inhabitants of the earth as nothing (Dan 4:35). D. God views fallen man as good for nothing (Jer 13:10). E. Man at his best state is altogether vanity (Psa 39:5). i. Altogether adv. - 1. Everything being included; in all respects, in every particular; entirely, wholly, totally, quite. ii. Vanity - 1. a. That which is vain, futile, or worthless; that which is of no value or profit. iii. Man's best state is entirely, wholly, totally, and in all respects worthless. iv. How much worse his normal state or worst state! v. The princes of this world will come to nought because they are nothing (1Co 2:6; Isa 40:23). F. This is why all nations before Him are as nothing. 2. "...and they are counted to him less than nothing, and vanity." A. Not only are all nations as nothing to God, they are counted to Him less than nothing. i. All nations have a negative value in God's sight. ii. A good illustration of less than nothing is to write the number zero on the board, and then erase it. B. God considers men of both low and high degree to be lighter than vanity (Psa 62:9). i. Both 1st degree masons and 33rd degree masons are worthless in the eyes of God. ii. The reprobate with an associate's, bachelor's, master's, or doctoral degree is worthless in God's sight. iii. If God put all nations on one side of His balance and nothing on the other side, the empty side would go down. C. Man is as an unclean thing to God and all his righteousnesses are as an filthy rags to Him (Isa 64:6). i. Uncleanness often refers to the state of a woman on her menstrual period in the Bible (Lev 15:25; Lev 18:19). a. Filthy rags were rags that were used to absorb the blood of uncleanness (maxipads). b. Even today, menstruating women are said to be "on the rag." ii. God considers all man's righteousnesses to be used maxipads which are worthless, and even worse than worthless. iii. If fallen man's righteousnesses are as filthy rags to God, how much more his unrighteousness? D. In summary, God is not at all impressed with man. Isa 40:18-27 - The Glory of God in Creation and the Folly of Idolatry XVIII. Isa 40:18 1. "To whom then will ye liken God? or what likeness will ye compare unto him?" A. Compare v. - 1. trans. To speak of or represent as similar; to liken. B. To whom could we possible liken God considering His attributes? C. Let's review some of the basic characteristics of God. i. God is omniscient (Psa 147:4-5; Rom 11:33-34; Psa 139:1-6). ii. God is omnipresent, being everywhere at one time (Psa 139:7-12). a. All the heavens cannot contain God (2Ch 6:18). b. God fills heaven and earth (Jer 23:24). c. God sees everything (Pro 15:3; 2Ch 16:9). iii. God is omnipotent (Rev 19:6; 1Ch 29:11). D. What other person or being could be pointed to, or even conceived in the mind, who is like God? i. God is infinite; everything else is finite. ii. God has no beginning; everything else was created. iii. God knows everything that is, was, will be, or could be; everything else knows next to nothing. E. God doesn't think like we do; His ways are not our ways, nor His thoughts our thoughts (Isa 55:8-9). F. His ways are past finding out (Rom 11:33). G. God will not give His glory to another (Isa 48:11). H. We therefore can't even fully comprehend God, let alone liken Him to another being or compare Him to anything. XIX. Isa 40:19 1. "The workman melteth a graven image, and the goldsmith spreadeth it over with gold, and casteth silver chains." 2. God cannot be likened or compared to anything since He is entirely unlike anything else (Isa 40:18). A. Therefore, man should not even attempt to make something that he thinks looks like God. B. Since no man has ever seen God (Exo 33:20; Joh 1:18; 1Jo 4:12; Joh 5:37), trying to make an image of Him is futile. C. God has forbidden men to make an image of Him (Exo 20:4). D. But men love to use their imaginations. 3. The idolater makes him a graven image to represent God in defiance to God. A. He might even rationalize His foolishness and rebellion by telling himself and others that it helps him remember God. B. In truth, idols make us forget God (Deu 4:23). C. He may justify it by saying that the gold represents the purity and durability of God. D. He used gold and silver, he tells himself, to show that God has worth. E. No amount of rationalizing it will make it acceptable with God though. F. This what people do with their Christmas and Easter celebrations, claiming that they help them to remember Jesus Christ. 4. Idolaters are diligent (Isa 44:9-15), but deceived (Isa 44:16-20). 5. Idolaters are stupid (Psa 115:4-8). 6. Idolatry didn't end with the nation of Israel. A. Doing the practices of the heathen unto the Lord is idolatry (1Co 10:7 c/w Exo 32:3-6 c/w Act 7:41). i. This is exactly what people do when celebrating Christmas. ii. They bring a tree into their homes and decorate it, which is idolatry (Jer 10:2-4). iii. They do it unto the Lord and think that God is pleased with it. iv. He is not. B. Covetousness is idolatry (Col 3:5; Eph 5:5). C. Worshiping any god but Jesus Christ, who is the true God, is idolatry (1Jo 5:20-21). D. Idolaters will be put out of the church (1Co 6:9-10). XX. Isa 40:20 1. "He that is so impoverished that he hath no oblation chooseth a tree that will not rot; he seeketh unto him a cunning workman to prepare a graven image, that shall not be moved." A. This particular idolater was so poor that he couldn't afford a quality tree, so he went with one that wouldn't rot. B. He hired a cunning workman to make him an idol that would last. 2. Who would do such a foolish thing?, one will say! A. This happens all of the time today. B. A person is too poor or lazy to go get a real tree out of the forest, so he pays some crafty manufacturer to make him an artificial Christmas tree that will not rot. C. He then can reuse his idol year after year. D. There's nothing new under the sun (Ecc 1:9).