“Sure” came out of my mouth before really thinking. My brain searched frantically into the recesses of mind for my notes on that Prophets class I took many moons ago in seminary. Who preaches out of Isaiah 41?
“Would you come answer some questions from our students on the topic of sex? It’s the prom and summer season…so…you know…it’s kinda relavant.”
Again – the word sneaked out before I really thought about it.
So that is how I got the honor of speaking the next two Wednesdays to Generation Next. Tonight the topic is sex and the audience is our senior high students. The next week is Isaiah 41 and the audience are the college students of Sterling University in Newman, Kansas. Pretty radically different topics and audiences.
At least that is what I thought at first. But read Isaiah 41 and there might just be a huge message to both audiences – maybe to that entire generation as a whole.
“Tell us, you idols, what is going to happen. Tell us what the former things were, so that we may consider them and know their final outcome.
Or declare to us the things to come. Tell us what the future holds, so that we may know that you are gods. Do something – whether good or bad, so that we will be dismayed and filled with fear.”
Can you hear the sarcasm? The Lord is talking so besides this being a proof-text that sarcasm is okay to use (it really isn’t), the Lord is basically calling out the false idols that Israel is worshipping instead of the Lord.
His two biggest charges – they don’t know anything and they don’t do anything. They exist as leaches, parasites on the community of Israel. I was on a trip in Croatia when the reality of idol worship hit me. Everywhere there were these headless statues – in ruined buildings, in the middle of the street, on the side of the road with weeds growing up around it. It hit me — all of these things were objects of worship and they probably never saw this coming. A day when I would walk right by them eating an ice-cream cone with no thought what-so-ever as to who they were.
The Lord says this next…
“You are less than nothing and your works are utterly worthless; whoever chooses you is detestable.
See! They are all false! Their deeds amount to nothing; their images are but wind and confusion.”
Isaiah 41:24; 29
That’s the reality and litmus test of false gods in our lives – they don’t know anything and they don’t do anything of any importance. In the end, all they lead to is wind and confusion. It’s just an image – not reality.
Put any of our common false gods in the equation and it’s the same result – sex, money, position, achievement – it’s all an image, an illusion that – at best – leads to confusion. At worse – leads to death.
But all of that isn’t what pokes my heart. The Lord says “whoever chooses you (false idols) is detestable.”
That’s pretty harsh. No, it’s very harsh. Detestable? And while I’m still wrestling with how to marry that with the cross and grace and forgiveness, this much is clear – God is not happy with those who choose to orient their life around a false god – no matter how shiny it may be.
The larger question that I will push these students to wrestle with is why. Why would God say this? The “why” is important because if you get the wrong “why”, we’ll miss the whole point of the story of God.
No answers this week. Wrestle with it yourself. I’ll report back in next week.