I opened my Bible to do my morning reading, and I recognized the chapter number: 46. I knew that this would be a sweet read, since Isaiah 46 contains a verse that is very special to me. However, this time when I read it, it wasn’t just about that verse; the Lord used this chapter to further teach and encourage me.
The title of the chapter in my Bible is “ Babylon’s Idols and the True God”. I suppose to get a greater context for what I want to share, I need to help you understand where we are in the text. The prophet Isaiah has been telling the people of Judah that due to their disobedience to His commandments, they will be taken by Babylon.
But when we begin reading chapter 46, we find ourselves in a section of Isaiah where the Lord is reminding the people of WHO He is, despite their promised exile. He’s told them in the previous two chapters of a man named Cyrus, whom the LORD refers to as His shepherd (44:28) and His anointed (45:1), who will overthrow Babylon and free the Jews from their exile, but this is all being written more than a century before it will actually take place!
When we get to chapter 46, Isaiah writes that Bel and Nebo, the gods of the Babylonians are “bowed down” and “stooped over”. Isaiah tells the people that these gods “could not rescue the burden, but have themselves gone into captivity” (v2).Matthew Henry writes, “When Cyrus takes Babylon, down go the idols. It was usual then with conquerors to destroy the gods of the places and people they conquered… Cyrus will do so; and then Bel and Nebo, that were set up on high, and looked great, bold, and erect, shall stoop and bow down at the feet of the soldiers that plunder their temples.”
Isaiah is penning words that promise the Jews that the gods of the Babylonians are no match in comparison to their God! As if those verses aren’t intriguing enough to ponder, Isaiah follows them with these words from the LORD,
“Even to your old age, I shall be the same, And even to your graying years, I shall bear you! I have done it, and I shall carry you; And I shall bear you, and I shall deliver you. To whom would you liken Me, and make Me equal and compare Me, that we should be alike?”
The LORD continues speaking the rest of the chapter, and it is GOLD! He says in verses 7 and 9 of other gods, “Though one may cry to it, it cannot answer; It cannot deliver him from his distress… For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me.”
Last week after reading this, I was reminded of all the things I place my hope in: my time, my sense of control, my family, my home, my comfort, etc. All of these are examples of things I lay my burdens on; yet as we read in this passage, they cannot rescue me! They stoop over and bow down at the weight of my needs!
I’ve heard people say, “Don’t put that on me; I make a lousy god.” And it’s true. There’s no one person or thing in this world that can carry your burden. Not our governmental leaders; not our spouses; not our jobs; not our children; not our bank accounts; not our college degrees. We could keep the list going, and include our false concepts of time and control. If we’ve learned anything this past year, it’s how not in control we are, right? None of these things can carry the load of needs that each of us has, including ourselves. We simply can’t bear the load, can we?
There’s something else the idols of this world can’t bear. Can you guess what it is?
In Genesis 4, we read the tragic story of Cain and Abel. We end chapter 3 with Adam and Eve leaving the garden. At this point, as a reader, we may not realize truly all that has transpired with the eating of the forbidden fruit, but in chapter 4 we begin to understand how deadly and costly this decision was, especially in the lives of their children.
With the LORD’s acceptance of his brother’s offering, anger is fueled within Cain. It is in verse 4 that we are introduced to the word “sin”, and the LORD tells Cain that it is crouching at his door, and that its desire is for him. It is sometime after this moment with the LORD that Cain does the unthinkable: he commits the first (recorded) murder, and his own brother is the victim.
We learn in verses 11 and 12 of his punishment from the LORD; “you are cursed from the ground… when you cultivate the ground, it shall no longer yield its strength to you; you shall be a wanderer and drifter on the earth.”
Cain responds to the LORD in verse 13, “My punishment is too great to bear!”
Though my study Bible comments that Cain’s response wasn’t one of repentance but of remorse, it reminds us that the punishment for our sin is too great to bear!
Fast forward to Isaiah again. In Chapter 53, Isaiah writes these things about the Suffering Servant:
- “it was our sicknesses that He Himself bore” (v 4)
- “For He will bear their wrongdoings” (v 11)
- “Yet He Himself bore the sin of many” (v 12)
You see, Christ is this Suffering Servant. He’s the One who bears all your sin and everything else we carry. He does not fall over by the weight of it all; He does not have to bend the knee before any other king. He is the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords! There is nothing too weighty for Him!
If you are in Christ today, I challenge you, as I do myself, to evaluate where you’re laying your burdens. Who or what is carrying them? Is it Christ? Because He is the only One able to do it!
Hebrews 14-16 tells us, “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let’s hold firmly to our confession. For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things just as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let’s approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace for help at the time of our need.”
If you do not have a personal relationship with Christ, I encourage you from Hebrews 4:4, “Today if you hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts.” Trust Him! Please reach out to us here at First Baptist Powell; we’d love to talk to you more about Jesus Christ!