Idolatry remains the constant divisive problem between God and Judah and her neighboring nations. That sin in its many forms will meet God’s judgment. This scene is set in a courtroom. Nations are summoned to hear Yahweh’s accusations and testify for themselves (41:1). Yahweh’s instrument of justice already is summoned “from the east.” A nation capable of overwhelming one nation after another is enroute (41:2). Its power is awesome, yet it is no more than God’s instrument of justice (41:3-4).
Nations engaged in idolatry “tremble” at reports from the east (41:5). More gods must be the answer! Rather than seeking the Lord, they fervently make more idols (41:6-7). God never intended Israel to live like this. As God gave Abraham purpose (Gen. 12:3), Israel also was to serve His purpose, not their fears. Israel as “My servant” refers to the servant Israel should have been, not to what they actually became (41:8). God chose Israel out of all the nations to be His redemptive people (41:9). Consequently, Israel had no cause to fear anyone or any circumstance. God’s very presence should have given them confidence and is still available (41:10). With God at their side, no enemy could stand against them (41:11-12). He offers nothing less than Himself as the one true cause for confidence (41:13). God as Redeemer will overcome Israel’s enemies, then Israel can rejoice in what He accomplishes on their behalf (41:14-16). The bounty the Lord provides far exceeds Israel’s situation (41:17-20).
Nevertheless, in this courtroom God presents His case against the nations and Israel. He offers time for rebuttal (41:21-22). If only the false gods can do “something,” they can establish themselves as genuine deities (41:23). Since they cannot, they are of “no account” and their work “amounts to nothing.” Worse yet, anyone who considers them as viable alternatives to Yahweh marks himself as an “abomination” to Him (41:24).
They reject God’s challenge, however. Consequently, the agent from the east will enter Judah from the north through the Fertile Crescent. He “tramples on rulers as if they were mud” (41:25, GNB). God asks Israel, “Who told you about coming judgment?” Of course, no idol can predict such an occurrence (41:26-27). What an oddity in a courtroom: counselors are speechless! (41:28). But that is the way with idols, then and now, they are nothing more than “wind and emptiness” (41:29). This scene closes - but another opens.
Dr. David Moore is a Baptist preacher in Pampa and an online instructor in Bible and theology for Taylor University and Nations University. Email: email@example.com
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