God is powerful, idols aren’t
Idols in humiliating captivity1
Idols Bel and Nebo are humiliated now.
They’re just more stuff to carry away,
Extra weight for weary pack animals.
They couldn’t carry their load and save you.
Now, they’re off to captivity like everything else.
3 Listen to me, descendants of Jacob,
All you people of Israel who survived.
I have carried you on my back
Since the day you were born.
4 I’ll carry you when you’re old
And when your hair has turned gray.
I created you and I take care of you.
I’ll carry you all the way to safety.
Don’t compare God to idols5
Who do you think I’m like?
What do you compare me to?
And love counting their silver,
Hire a goldsmith to make a god.
Then they worship that god
Made from their own gold and silver.
7 They lift it onto their shoulders.
They carry it to their homes.
Then they set it in a sacred place
Where it sits and doesn’t move.
If someone pleads for it to help.
It sits and doesn’t move.
8 You sinful people, use your heads.
Consider what I just said.
9 Think about what happened to you.
Don’t forget your history.
I am God, the one and only.
There is no one else like me.
10 I told you what would happen.
I told you long ago.
I mean it when I say it.
When I say it I will do it.
The enemy is coming11
I’ve whistled east for a bird of prey,
A man from faraway.
I planned it and I’ll do it.
I ordered it and he’ll come.
On the losing side of a war.
13 I’m coming to your rescue.
You won’t have long to wait.
I’ll save Jerusalem, as well.
For Israel is my pride and joy.
Bel and Nebo were ancient, leading gods of Babylon. They show up in history even before the ancient god called Marduk. Some say Bel is another name for Marduk. Nebo was his son. On holidays, such as the New Year’s festival, Babylonians carried their gods through the cities in parades. This chapter compares God’s power to idols that have no power at all.
Babylonian invaders have conquered the Jewish nation of Judah and leveled Jerusalem and the Temple. They took Israelite survivors captive and led them back to Babylon, in what is now Iraq. Babylonians did this so the Jews would not rebuild their nation, because the Israelites had become a rebellious pain in the neck to their Babylonian overlords. Babylon wanted Israelite tax money. But the Israelites established a solid history of resisting. Babylon apparently got tired of sending troops to punish the Israelites, so in 586 BC they erased the Jewish nation from the political map. This chapter reads like a lament written long after the events. Some scholars, however, say Isaiah wrote this as prophecy.
Literally, “Zion,” another name for Jerusalem. It often refers to the Jerusalem Temple or the ridge on which the ancient city was built, Mount Zion. God seems to promise to preserve Jerusalem and the Temple, which in this case requires rebuilding. Babylon levels Jerusalem and the Temple. There’s no mention here of God raising Israel from the ashes, into an independent nation again. Persians conquer Babylon and, in the mid-500s BC, allow the Jews to go home and rebuild Jerusalem. But the Jewish homeland remains a Persian territory under the authority of the Persian king. David’s family of kings ended when Babylon conquered the nation. Jews won their independence a few centuries later, from about 168 BC-37 BC. Then the Romans took over. Jews regained control about 2,000 years later, forming the nation of Israel on Palestinian land granted by the United Nations after World War Two. Jewish people gained more land by purchasing it, annexing it, or taking it in war.
- Sorry, there are currently no questions for this chapter.