8:18

What arrogance built

What arrogance built

Miami Beach is illustrating Isaiah 2 for me.

It’s nice to have someone else do the visualizing for once.

After the comforting vision of God’s exalted kingdom in the beginning of the chapter, Isaiah turns back to confronting Israel about its behavior.  He points out the elements of their self-sufficient pride.

            Their land is filled with silver and gold,
                 and there is no end to their treasures;

            their land is filled with horses,
                 and there is no end to their chariots.

            Their land is filled with idols;
                 they bow down to the work of their hands,
                 to what their own fingers have made. (Isaiah 2:7–8)

My event this week is in a beach-side, high-rise resort.  I, however, am staying in a more modest hotel in a busy section of the town that runs the gamut between touristy restaurants and a seedy strip joint.

This town is full of that earthbound, pleasure-driven pride that the prophet was calling out.  From the silver and gold in the resort gift shop to the horse in the lobby.

Though, the more equivalent horses were valet parked right by the front door.  (Or are they horseless chariots?)

            For the LORD of hosts has a day
                        against all that is proud and lofty,
                        against all that is lifted up—and it shall be brought low;

            against all the cedars of Lebanon,
                        lofty and lifted up;
                        and against all the oaks of Bashan;

            against all the lofty mountains,
                        and against all the uplifted hills;

            against every high tower,
                        and against every fortified wall;

            against all the ships of Tarshish
                       and against all the beautiful craft.

            And the haughtiness of man shall be humbled,
                       and the lofty pride of men shall be brought low,
                       and the LORD alone will be exalted in that day. (Isaiah 2:12–17)

After spending a whole day listening to people talk about how to hold onto money, it’s easy for me to think that the system of the rich and powerful will go unchecked forever.  But God has appointed a day when he will be against all of man’s self-exaltation.

The Judge in all his glory is coming.  And his glory will be so overwhelming, those people, so proud of their earthbound structures raised up in defiance of heaven, will seek to go down into the earth to escape the presence of the LORD (vs. 19-21).  Those who went high will endeavor to go low.

It’s easy to deride idols when they’re flaunted.  Turning an inward eye, I know the more insidious ones don’t like the limelight.  Quiet they may be, but they’re just as disregarding of God’s primacy.  Any system that is raised up to provide, protect, and give meaning that doesn’t start with the Lord is a high tower, a fortified wall of pride.  I have my own versions of self-sufficient structures.

God is against my self-made systems, because he knows what’s best for me.

Because he is what’s best for me.

God, save us from our idols.  And from finding others’ more obvious idols as a way to distract us from the ways we rely on ourselves rather than you.  Nothing else is a substitute for you.

Reader:  What stands out to you as an example of man’s self-sufficient pride?

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Bruce Van Patter

As a freelance illustrator, graphic recorder, and author, Bruce is on a lifelong journey to delight in the handiwork of the Creator. And he’s always ready for fellow travelers.