From Wisdom to Foolishness
Guest Contribution submitted by Debbie’s Dad
Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer, and the one who formed you from the womb,“I, the LORD, am the maker of all things, Stretching out the heavens by Myself And spreading out the earth all alone, Causing the omens of boasters to fail, Making fools out of diviners, Causing wise men to draw back, And turning their knowledge into foolishness,
Isaiah 44:24–25 (NASB95)
Isaiah is considered a” major prophet” because he spoke for God over a long period (perhaps over four decades, during the reigns of kings Uzziah/Azariah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah in Jerusalem). In the first section of his book (Chapters 1-34), he warned of the sins of God’s people: apostasy (forsaking God in rebellion), covenant-breaking, idolatry, and iniquity.
He was a personal adviser to King Hezekiah and recorded details of Hezekiah’s life in the second section, chapters 36-39. He described the challenges that Hezekiah faced; his trust in God as Assyrian armies threatened Jerusalem (36-37), and a sickness threatened his own life (38:9-20), as well as his error of pride (39:1-8).
The next part of the book of Isaiah (Chapters 40-66) focuses on the themes of Israel’s sins, the assured future of Israel because of the faithfulness of God, and the future coming of a Redeemer to restore Israel’s greatness. Again, it is a long and detailed section of the book. But the context of this period was the Babylonian empire buildup that ultimately led to the destruction of Jerusalem – it was a terrifying time.
In chapter 44, Isaiah focuses on a particular aspect of the sin of idolatry. The first part of this vivid chapter builds to a crescendo:
- Verses 1-5 open with the declaration of the Lord as Creator of His people and His blessing to them.
- Verses 6-8 present God’s assertion: “Thus says the LORD, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the LORD of hosts: ‘I am the first and I am the last, And there is no God besides Me.” (verse 6). It precedes His assurance to neither tremble nor be afraid – in His sovereignly; He has declared the events to take place on earth.
- Verses 9-20 is a very detailed description of the craftsmen that made idols of iron and wood. He points out that one man may cut a piece of wood in two, then use half to make a fire and the other half to carve into an idol (his God) for worship. The same wood! For warmth and for worship. Isaiah’s point is – how foolish! Of this craftsman, Isaiah says,”…a deceived heart has turned him aside…” (verse 20)
- Verses 21-23 remind the people that they are His servant and will not be forgotten; the Lord calls them to return to Him because He has wiped out their transgressions. This brings rejoicing in the heavens and on the earth, and the Lord reveals his Glory in these people.
And now, in our key verse, The Lord again declares (as in verses 1 and 2) that He is the Creator of all things – stretching out the heavens and spreading out the earth. But his sovereign power extends beyond creation – it encompasses men’s affairs. To those “deceived hearts” who create and entice to idolatry and divination (predicting the future), the Lord does three things: (Verse 25)
- Causes the omens of boasters to fail – Those who boasted special knowledge of events would be shown to be predictive failures (this may refer to idolators in Babylon and those in Jerusalem too).
- Makes fools out of diviners -The false prophets that made claims about Babylon, future war, outcomes, and Jerusalem’s security would be shown to be foolish.
- Causes wise men to draw back (literally, turns them backward) and turns their knowledge into foolishness – Again, the so-called wise men (perhaps those who mocked Isaiah) would be shown to be fools and their so-called knowledge foolishness.
Our focus here is on how God shows human wisdom (false religious, intellectually secular) about spiritual things to be foolish when it is not based on God’s word. Similarly, Paul wrote: “For the wisdom of this world is foolishness before God. For it is written, “He is THE ONE WHO CATCHES THE WISE IN THEIR CRAFTINESS”; and again, “THE LORD KNOWS THE REASONINGS of the wise, THAT THEY ARE USELESS.” 1 Corinthians 3:19–20 (NASB95) (See the quotes from Job 5:13 and Psalm 94:11).
An idol is anything that comes before our relationship with God and impedes our walk with Him. Therefore, let us pray that a deceived heart will not turn us away from Him.