I have a confession: I am a people-pleaser and perfectionist. I needed to throw away the idols.
Making mistakes makes me feel less than valuable in others’ eyes. But one week, God allowed me to feel as if mistakes overwhelmed me. I forgot an appointment, I was rude to a waiter, and I had writing errors on a document. I felt embarrassed and shameful—cringing inwardly, knowing friends had seen my imperfections. Until I read Isaiah’s words.
This is the way; walk in it. Then you will defile your idols overlaid with silver and your images covered with gold; you will throw them away like a menstrual cloth and say to them, “Away with you!”
~Isaiah 30:21b-22 NIV
God spoke to His people while the Assyrians antagonized them. God’s people had lost their joy and intimacy with God because they had fallen to godless idols. Although I might not have a shiny silver worldly item I bow and worship, I have inward idols that take importance over honoring God.
Isaiah uses several visual images to help us see how life could be if we placed God above our idols—whether they be worldly goods or inward struggles. If we throw out the value of perfectionism or our desire for more things and instead place God above these cravings, God will make the sunlight shine seven times brighter in our lives (30:26). He will restore singing and music (30:29). He will strike our enemies while we play music on tambourines and harps (30:32). When we give up what’s more important than God, He restores us with a heart of celebration that replaces our strife and unrest.
When we hate our idol, agree with God that we’ve made it larger than Him, and ask for His forgiveness, God will enable us to throw away our idol like stinky trash.
After all, why would we want to depend on our idols when they are not filled with the Spirit of God (31:3)? The Israelites sought the help of the Egyptians to fight their battle rather than relying on God. God reminded them that men and horses were only flesh. Likewise, my battle with perfectionism and peoples’ opinions is not all-knowing or all-powerful as God.
God also uses an image of a lion. As a lion growls over his prey and roars against shouting shepherds—such as Assyria over Judah and my idol growling over me—so God comes down to do battle (31:4).
Like birds hovering overhead, the Lord Almighty will shield Jerusalem; He will shield it and deliver it, he will pass over it and will rescue it.
~Isaiah 31:5 NIV
G0d will spread His covering over us when we give up our internal or external struggles. He will restore us with His light, His fighting Spirit, His music in our hearts, and His protection and deliverance.
What idol robs you of the Holy Spirit’s power and your joy?
Lord, examine me. Comfort me when the world and the opinions of people are too large. Forgive me if I let these things take precedence. I want Your Spirit to complete His work in my heart. Help me throw away these worthless values of the world and depend on You. Protect me from the evil one who seeks to turn my heart toward people. Instead, keep me seeking Your beauty, power, and will. Amen.
Copyright 2023: Throw Away the Idols: Lynne Head: All Rights Reserved