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Isaiah17 Man's Trust_Idolatry

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Isaiah (17)

Man’s Desire to control  – Idolatry!

8 Welcome and announcements

8 Doxology                 Hymn 323:  “Into Your presence we come”

8 Call to worship and Greeting

8 Hymn no 1:              “Rejoice, the Lord is King”

8 Prayer of adoration and Confession of sins

8 Declaration of pardoning

8 Hymn no 385:        “What shall I do my God to love?”

8 Bible Reading:                            New Testament:                                  1Corinthians 10:6-22 8 at verse 21

8 Offering and Dedication

8  Prayer of Intercession

8  Bible Reading:                            Old Testament:                    Isaiah 2:6-9; 22 ; 8  at verse 8

8  Singing:                                            “These are the facts”  (Screen)

8  Sermon                                            Autonomous man’s desire to control : idolatry


Dear Brother and Sister in the Lord,

Just a quick look once again at the paragraph of Isa 2:6-9.  We hear repeated in these verses the phrase:  “their land is full of …”  8  This tells the story of man who wants to be autonomous. 8  Man wants to be a law unto himself.  8 A desire to know his own future:  Superstition.  8  A desire to secure his own future:  Money8  A desire to defend his own future:  Power.  And lastly, according to our text:  8  A desire to control his own future:  Idols. 

If we sum it up, we way say:

•       8 In his arrogance man wants to cut himself loose from God.  He substitutes God with something else in an effort to become his own god.

•       8  But God will rise up against arrogant man and destroy him and what he put his trust into.

•       8  Stop trusting in man, who has but a breath in his nostrils. Of what account is he? (Isaiah 2:22)

There is a philosophy as old as Time.  In our day it has been given a name.  This destructive philosophy is called 8  Humanism.  It was only during the period of the Renaissance that it was given its name. 8  This destructive philosophy makes of man an independent being with supposedly unlimited possibilities within himself that needs to be explored.

Man stands in the centre of his own existence. 8  His own reason, his own intellect and his own standard form the pivot of his existence.  What he cannot work out or understand by means of his own reasoning, does not count. There is no room for the metaphysical, because it cannot be proven by science.  8  Science is the new yardstick, the new religion, the new god. Education is seen is the means of liberating man.  Man believes in himself, his potential, his natural goodness, in his perpetual development through science.

By his own development 8 man does not discover meaning in this world; no, man ascribe meaning to his environment.  In his freedom as human being, he selects what meaning and significance he wants to bestow on certain things, 8  and while doing this he finds freedom.  Anyone standing in his way to find this fulfilment stands in the way of human dignity and human rights. In his search for human rights and freedom, humanistic 8  man does not want to be bound by laws, at least not God’s law, the law of the Bible, because man is a law unto himself.  He is his own god.  He is in control.  He is autonomous. 8  Autonomous man wants an autonomous universe:  the goal is the independence of all things from God, and from one another.  8  Sir Francis Bacon writes of the humanistic mind:

“When his negotiations are finished, the universe – the world of things – is in business for itself.  We will shape, experience, and know it at our pleasure – let God be circumspect in His complaints.”

•          8 Paul Kurtz (“Humanist Manifesto 2000 : A Call for New Planetary Humanism”)

–         8 We believe “that man is part of nature and that he has emerged as the result of continuous process” [evolution]

–         8 “Ethics is autonomous and situational, needing no theological or ideological sanction”

Our study of Isaiah 2:6-8 reveals something of this age-old rebellion against everything God has made and given.  It tells of man who wanted to be his own god.

Man wants to shape his life and destiny. He wants to be in control as he wants to get rid of God and place himself in God’s place.  8  In Isa 2:8 we read:

Their land is full of idols; they bow down to the work of their hands, to what their fingers have made. (Isaiah 2:8)

Further down the book of Isaiah, in more than one chapter, the prophet comes back to this theme. He compares these idols with God.  For instance, in Chapter 40:19-20 and 41:22

8  As for an idol, a craftsman casts it, and a goldsmith overlays it with gold and fashions silver chains for it. A man too poor to present such an offering selects wood that will not rot. He looks for a skilled craftsman to set up an idol that will not topple. (Isaiah 40:19-20)

8 “Bring in your idols to tell us 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 we may know that you are gods. Do something, whether good or bad, so that we will be dismayed and filled with fear. But you are less than nothing and your works are utterly worthless; he who chooses you is detestable. (Isaiah 41:22-24)

The sin of Idolatry

Idolatry is forbidden by the Law of God.  Exodus 20:2

8  “You shall have no other gods before me.
“You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. (Exodus 20:3-4)

In our New Testament Scripture of this morning we are warned not to be like some of the fathers of the Old Testament who were idolaters.  In that paragraph, in 1Corinthians 7-10 we are told of some episodes in its history when God struck down thousands of Israelites because of their idolatry.  On the surface, what they did, some of these episodes do not look like idolatry.

8  Localisation and manipulation

The first instance is idolatry in its purest form.  It’s easy to define.  Moses was on the mountain in the presence of God, receiving the Ten Commandments.  He stayed away, and they felt themselves lost in the desert without their leader and without God.  Very soon they forgot about the commandment not make any idol for themselves.  So went to Aaron with the request:

8  “Come, make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him.” (Exodus 32:1)

They took every gold they had, gave it to Aaron, and he made them a golden calf.  This calf reminded them of the power of the Egyptian bull-god Apis.  They worshipped this idol as the god who brought them out of Egypt.  In other words, they made something themselves and ascribed to it the power of their delivery.  They made themselves, not God, the center of their salvation.  Further, they most probably indulged in a massive sexual orgy as they “danced and played”. Here the true corrupt nature of man revealed itself, apart from God. They were running wild and out of control the Bible says.  They became a laughing stock to their enemies.

This was utter sin before God.  It is idolatry.  The result:  God sent Moses down from the mountain.  He burned the idol, ground it to powder, scattered it on the water and made the people drink it.  On that day, God by the sword of the Levites, struck down 3,000 people.

What happened here?  8  Idolatry is sinful because it is an attempt of man to localize God. We want God where we want Him. He was away on the mountain and seemed far away.  8 If we made an idol, we have the power over God to have Him where we want Him (manipulation).  We can use him whenever we want, and if we don’t want him, we stow him away.  We can even lock him up in the church if we want, go our way through the week and come back next Sunday, unlock God and worship in our own way.  We feel comfortable this way.

8 We don’t need God! 

8 We are in control ! We are God !

8 God are we!

•          8 Paul Kurtz (“Humanist Manifesto 2000 : A Call for New Planetary Humanism”)

–         8 “As nontheists, we begin with humans not God, nature not deity”

–         8 “We can discover no divine purpose or providence for the human species”

–         8 We are committed “to scientific naturalism” [atheism]

8  Procreation

The next episode 1 Corinthians 10 refers to, is the episode in 8 Numbers 25.  We read:

While Israel was staying in Shittim, the men began to indulge in sexual immorality with Moabite women, who invited them to the sacrifices to their gods. The people ate and bowed down before these gods. So Israel joined in worshiping the Baal of Peor. And the LORD’s anger burned against them. (Numbers 25:1-3)

8 Sexual immorality puts man in control of his sexual desire, and thus his desire to create the way God created.  Also to be in control of what he does not want to see created.  We think of abortion, homosexualism and the ongoing debate over human cloning, the selling of human eggs and sperms, the possibilities of embryonic stem cell research.

8 Kurtz (2000 Humanist Manifest):

–         8  “Women should have the right to control their own bodies. This includes reproductive freedom, voluntary contraception, and abortion.”

–         8 The right to birth control, abortion and divorce should be recognized”

–         8 “The many varieties of sexual exploration should not in themselves be considered ‘evil’”

–         8 Through sexuality humans should not be exploited.  There must be respect and honesty.

–         8 “Moral education for children and adults is an important way of developing awareness and sexual maturity”

That day God struck 24,000 people in Isreal.

8  Participation

The next episode mentioned in 1Corinthians 10, is that of Korah, Dathan and Abiram in the Old Testament.  We read about this in

8  Numbers 16.  The main complaint of these people was: 

“You have gone too far! The whole community is holy, every one of them, and the LORD is with them. Why then do you set yourselves above the LORD’s assembly?” (Numbers 16:3)

8 They disregarded what was holy unto the Lord, and assumed unto themselves the role of priest to enter into the presence of the Lord.  We want to participate!  We have the right!

8 Man worked out a religion where he can be co-god. Where he can have a say.  Where 8  God has to listen to independent, autonomous man. The whole chapter revolves around the holy institution of God and man’s desire to participate and manipulate.  It is an offence against holiness.

God visited the rebellion of the people and killed 250 by fire. God opened the earth and the members of the families of the rebellious men were consumed.  On top of this, 14,700 Israelites died in a plague as a result of this revolt against the holiness of God.

8 Materialism

The next episode is recorded in 8 Numbers 21:4-9. 8 The people grumbled against God’s provision.  They were not happy with the way in which God provided in their everyday need.

They spoke against God and against Moses, and said, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the desert? There is no bread! There is no water! And we detest this miserable food!” (Numbers 21:5)

The Lord sent snakes, and many died.  We know the story, even of God’s mercy on them to provide in the bronze snake to heal those who had their eyes focused on it.  In this episode not being content with God’s providence and provision, 8 constitutes a sin.  And maybe we find it back in today materialism.


Autonomous man wants to shape his own future.  He does so by making his own gods.  He creates idols – in whichever shape.  He is not willing to faithfully and obediently wait upon God and let God be God.  No, he wants to be god himself.  That’s idolatry.

8  Lamont (Humanist):

“Humanism assigns to man nothing less than the task of being his own saviour and redeemer.”

8  Humanist Manifesto 1:

“Humanism is philosophical, religious and moral point of view as old as human civilization itself.”

8  Kurtz:

The American Humanist Association still retains it religious exemption.  “…its Counselor program is religious and performs ‘pastoral’ and ‘ministerial’ duties.”

8 Autonomous man rejects Jesus Christ as Saviour, the One lifted on high like Moses lifted up the snake so people who believe in Him can live and be cured from their deadly sin of idolatry.  Autonomous man rejects Jesus Christ as Saviour, because he wants to his own Saviour. He wants to control and manipulate. He makes his own gods – idols of all manner and kinds.  The Scriptures warn us: 

8  Stop trusting in man, who has but a breath in his nostrils. Of what account is he? (Isaiah 2:22)

8  We preach the depravity of mankind who is in desperate need of salvation.  8  We preach Christ the Saviour.  Whoever believes in Him, has eternal life.  8  Without Him no life is possible.


8  Prayer

8  Hymn no 366:                           “Arm of the Lord, awake, awake”

8  Benediction

8  “Mercy, Blessing, Favour, Grace” (Screen)

8  Summary

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