A Lifeless Log from the Backyard

Stupid. There’s just no better word for it. I have just never heard of anything so stupid.

Imagine this guy. He cuts down a tree to get some logs for his wood-burning fireplace. He starts a fire, enjoys its warmth, even bakes his bread on the coals.

But he saves one log and starts carving away. He marks it with pencil and shapes it with plane and compass, and soon this chunk of wood transforms into a human figure. As if to bestow on it some great value, he hires a goldsmith to cover it in gold. And he takes great delight in his masterpiece.

And while this golden block of wood sits in front of him – unable to move, unable to do anything for him – he bows down and worships it.

He bows down and worships it. He raises his hands in praise of this thing, and he gives up his soul to it. He trusts it to bring him some deliverance. This lifeless log from his backyard.

There is nothing so utterly ludicrous.

The thing cannot know. It cannot discern. It cannot see or hear or understand. It has no heart. Truth be told, this man just threw its sister branches in the fireplace. The burning of its frame produced more for him than the overlaying of it with gold. And he is left dangerously unaware of how absurd his logic could possibly be.

Yes. These are idols. And idols are stupid, every last one of them.

Every possession no matter how great. Every pursuit no matter how noble. Every relationship no matter how pure. Every enjoyment no matter how biblical. Every obligation. Every choice. Every all-consuming passion. Every thought on which my heart and mind dwells.

When my knees and my soul bow to its glory and my heart rests there, I have joined the ranks of the ludicrous who have somehow so lost sight of their Maker and Keeper that a lifeless log from the backyard seems better.

Oh may every idol reek of stupidity to me that I may never cease to bow my knee and worship the incomparable Lord whose glory must not be shared and in whom is the greatest of delights.

To whom then will you liken God, or what likeness compare with him? An idol! A craftsman casts it, and a goldsmith overlays it with gold and casts for it silver chains. He who is too impoverished for an offering chooses wood that will not rot; he seeks out a skillful craftsman to set up an idol that will not move.

I am the Lord; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols.

They are turned back and utterly put to shame, who trust in carved idols, who say to metal images, “You are our gods.”

Is there a God besides me? There is no Rock; I know not any.

All who fashion idols are nothing, and the things they delight in do not profit. Who fashions a god or casts an idol that is profitable for nothing?

The ironsmith takes a cutting tool and works it over the coals. He fashions it with hammers and works it with his strong arm. He becomes hungry, and his strength fails; he drinks no water and is faint. The carpenter stretches a line; he marks it out with a pencil. He shapes it with planes and marks it with a compass. He shapes it into the figure of a man, with the beauty of a man, to dwell in a house. He cuts down cedars, or he chooses a cypress tree or an oak and lets it grow strong among the trees of the forest. He plants a cedar and the rain nourishes it. Then it becomes fuel for a man. He takes a part of it and warms himself; he kindles a fire and bakes bread. Also he makes a god and worships it; he makes it an idol and falls down before it. Half of it he burns in the fire. Over the half he eats meat; he roasts it and is satisfied. Also he warms himself and says, “Aha, I am warm, I have seen the fire!” And the rest of it he makes into a god, his idol, and falls down to it and worships it. He prays to it and says, “Deliver me, for you are my god!”

They know not, nor do they discern, for he has shut their eyes, so that they cannot see, and their hearts, so that they cannot understand. No one considers, nor is there knowledge or discernment to say, “Half of it I burned in the fire; I also baked bread on its coals; I roasted meat and have eaten. And shall I make the rest of it an abomination? Shall I fall down before a block of wood?” He feeds on ashes; a deluded heart has led him astray, and he cannot deliver himself or say, “Is there not a lie in my right hand?”

Isaiah 40:18-20, 42:8, 17, 44:8-20

 [image credit: unsplash.com]


2 thoughts on “A Lifeless Log from the Backyard

  1. A helpful reminder to be vigilant in recognizing our tendency to make idols, even of good things—maybe even especially of good things. I read an interesting book on this topic titled “Strange Gods: Unmasking the Idols in Everyday Life” by Elizabeth Scalia. Here’s a description: “While literal golden calves no longer dot the landscape, Scalia describes how legitimate loves become obsessively twisted into idols. She identifies idolatry in a number of everyday experiences–friendships that become needy or possessive, commitments political and religious that grow so intense they lead to hatred of others, to name a few–and points to the incarnation of Christ and authentic worship of him as a way out of idolatry and into peace, happiness, and love.”


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