Isaiah 44:20 (New International Version)
20 He feeds on ashes, a deluded heart misleads him;
he cannot save himself, or say,
"Is not this thing in my right hand a lie?"
It is the last day of the last long weekend of summer. I sit in a spot shaded from the bright sun, a small deck on the north side of our house.
This is a quiet place to read, escaping the drone of the vacuum inside, where Brenda is busy cleaning. Out here the wind whispers through a nearby bushy maple tree and the are crickets chirping their rhythmic song. It almost feels as though summer will last forever.
Paul adds to the sound-symphony with the drone of the garden tractor, interspersed with the hum of the whipper-snipper.
But the season is changing. School is starting and there is energy, a certain nervous tension, and anticipation in the air.
My reading today is from the book of Isaiah, a passage (chapter 44) that contrasts the LIVING GOD, with the things that men make and give their lives to. Craftsmen in the days when this was written, made idols, symbols of these things, to worship. God points out through the prophet that the same tree from which the idol was carved was also burned to cook their food and keep them warm, therefore there could be nothing worthy of worship in the work of their hands. A delusion kept them from seeing this.
God says of them, in verse 20:
he cannot save himself, or say,"Is not this thing in my right hand a lie?"
The right hand for me is a symbol of our human strength and competence; "a lie," if we put our trust there.
My pondering leads me back to an encounter with God recorded in the book of Exodus; the call of Moses. In response to Moses's protest that God had surely picked the wrong person for this assignment, God asks him a highly significant question: "What is that in your hand?"
Moses was having an uneventful day tending sheep in the desert until the Lord appeared in the burning bush. What he had in his hand was a tool of the shepherd's trade, a staff.
I have often thought that what followed was a demonstration of what can happen when we give what we have to God, because God turned the staff into a miracle working tool that could turn into a snake and back again. But next God told Moses to put that same hand, empty this time, into his cloak. He turned it white with leprosy and then back to normal again.
And I realize that it isn't about anything that we have in our hands at all; and that what I want and all that I need in my right hand, is...God's hand.
Exodus 4:2 (New International Version)
2 Then the LORD said to him, "What is that in your hand?"
New International Version (NIV)
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