God and Christians get a hostile greeting in many places these days. Some of that is deserved in the latter group. When we preach about exclusion and condemnation, we don’t seem to resemble our God much. God’s love is for all.
Yes, there is absolute right and wrong in the universe, but love is a higher law. Jesus would say that Moses said this, but I tell you… Jesus wanted us to see the love behind, within, and that should be exuding from all of God’s commands and laws. Obeying God’s laws can be like walking through a minefield—every step taken in trepidation. Living the law of love is to go through the same minefield without fear, certain of our destination, but with pangs of mercy for those still taking one painful step after another or who just throw themselves on a mine to bring the pain to an end.
Some consider the God of the Old Testament to be an angry God. Some paint him as the ultimate mine layer. He is not. As we see in Isaiah, God has always been a God of salvation. God reminds his people that he made the earth for them to live abundant lives. He calls his people—that includes us—to turn away from the idols of this world.
We would think it crazy to make a god out of wood or stone or gold today. We don’t seem to bat an eye though when our money, pride, possessions, self-righteousness, self-pity, entitlement mentality, or control of life’s circumstances supplant the one true God as Lord of our lives.
- Of course my job comes first.
- Let go of my self-pity, are you crazy? I’ve earned it.
- If I put God in the driver’s seat, I don’t know where I’ll end up.
We are blessed to know God through Jesus, but God has always been a God with a desire for us to live very full lives and know salvation in him.
God challenges us to really look at the evidence and see for ourselves if He has not been there all along, always seeking what is best for us. This is not as simple as it sounds. It is difficult to examine anything without first trying to make the evidence fit our beliefs.
Sometimes we see controversy where there is simply paradox. The trials of life, suffering that we can’t understand, heartbreak, joy, excitement, tears, sorrow, regret, pain, and rejoicing are a part of life. They cannot make sense by any measure of the world or by the metrics of the gods of this world.
True life—fulfilling life—comes only in relationship to our Creator. I love the line in Ian Anderson’s Bungle in the Jungle, He who made kittens put snakes in the grass. Yes, there are snakes in the grass. There are minefields in the world. There are trials and tribulations yet to come. But there is only one place truly safe and that is in relationship with our Lord. There is only one God.
Snakes, kittens, minefields, daily hassles, unpaid bills, winning lottery tickets, flat tires, the smell of horsehide on a spring day, are all a part of our existence. Knowing why we are here and loving the God who put us here is life.
God and Christians get a hostile greeting in many places these days, but if we truly examine the evidence—yes that means without our personal agenda attached—we find a God of Love who has been engaged with his creation since creation. God has given us life and freewill and awaits us to finally chose him over the false gods and idols of this world.
“I invite the whole world to turn to me and be saved. I alone am God! No others are real.”
Isaiah 45:22 Contemporary English Version
New International Version
18 For this is what the LORD says—
he who created the heavens,
he is God;
he who fashioned and made the earth,
he founded it;
he did not create it to be empty,
but formed it to be inhabited—
“I am the LORD,
and there is no other.
19 I have not spoken in secret,
from somewhere in a land of darkness;
I have not said to Jacob’s descendants,
‘Seek me in vain.’
I, the LORD, speak the truth;
I declare what is right.
20 “Gather together and come;
assemble, you fugitives from the nations.
Ignorant are those who carry about idols of wood,
who pray to gods that cannot save.
21 Declare what is to be, present it—
let them take counsel together.
Who foretold this long ago,
who declared it from the distant past?
Was it not I, the LORD?
And there is no God apart from me,
a righteous God and a Savior;
there is none but me.
22 “Turn to me and be saved,
all you ends of the earth;
for I am God, and there is no other.
23 By myself I have sworn,
my mouth has uttered in all integrity
a word that will not be revoked:
Before me every knee will bow;
by me every tongue will swear.
24 They will say of me, ‘In the LORD alone
are deliverance and strength.’”
All who have raged against him
will come to him and be put to shame.
18-24God, Creator of the heavens—
he is, remember, God.
Maker of earth—
he put it on its foundations, built it from scratch.
He didn’t go to all that trouble
to just leave it empty, nothing in it.
He made it to be lived in.
This God says:
“I am God,
the one and only.
I don’t just talk to myself
or mumble under my breath.
I never told Jacob,
‘Seek me in emptiness, in dark nothingness.’
I am God. I work out in the open,
saying what’s right, setting things right.
So gather around, come on in,
all you refugees and castoffs.
They don’t seem to know much, do they—
those who carry around their no-god blocks of wood,
praying for help to a dead stick?
So tell me what you think. Look at the evidence.
Put your heads together. Make your case.
Who told you, and a long time ago, what’s going on here?
Who made sense of things for you?
Wasn’t I the one? God?
It had to be me. I’m the only God there is—
The only God who does things right
and knows how to help.
So turn to me and be helped—saved!—
everyone, whoever and wherever you are.
I am God,
the only God there is, the one and only.
I promise in my own name:
Every word out of my mouth does what it says.
I never take back what I say.
Everyone is going to end up kneeling before me.
Everyone is going to end up saying of me,
‘Yes! Salvation and strength are in God!'”
24-25All who have raged against him
will be brought before him,
disgraced by their unbelief.
And all who are connected with Israel
will have a robust, praising, good life in God
King James Version
18For thus saith the LORD that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited: I am the LORD; and there is none else.
19I have not spoken in secret, in a dark place of the earth: I said not unto the seed of Jacob, Seek ye me in vain: I the LORD speak righteousness, I declare things that are right.
20Assemble yourselves and come; draw near together, ye that are escaped of the nations: they have no knowledge that set up the wood of their graven image, and pray unto a god that cannot save.
21Tell ye, and bring them near; yea, let them take counsel together: who hath declared this from ancient time? who hath told it from that time? have not I the LORD? and there is no God else beside me; a just God and a Saviour; there is none beside me.
22Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.
23I have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, That unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear.
24Surely, shall one say, in the LORD have I righteousness and strength: even to him shall men come; and all that are incensed against him shall be ashamed
Contemporary English Version
Everyone Is Invited
18The LORD alone is God!
He created the heavens
and made a world
where people can live,
instead of creating
an empty desert.
The LORD alone is God;
there are no others.
19The LORD did not speak
in a dark secret place
or command Jacob’s descendants
to search for him in vain.
The LORD speaks the truth,
and this is what he says
20to every survivor
from every nation:
“Gather around me!
Learn how senseless it is
to worship wooden idols
or pray to helpless gods.
21“Why don’t you get together
and meet me in court?
Didn’t I tell you long ago
what would happen?
I am the only God!
There are no others.
I bring about justice,
and have the power to save.
22“I invite the whole world
to turn to me and be saved.
I alone am God!
No others are real.
23I have made a solemn promise,
one that won’t be broken:
Everyone will bow down
and worship me.
24They will admit that I alone
can bring about justice.
Everyone who is angry with me
will be terribly ashamed
and will turn to me.
New Century Version
18 The Lord created the heavens.
He is the God who formed the earth and made it.
He did not want it to be empty,
but he wanted life on the earth.
This is what the Lord says:
“I am the Lord. There is no other God.
19 I did not speak in secret
or hide my words in some dark place.
I did not tell the family of Jacob
to look for me in empty places.
I am the Lord, and I speak the truth;
I say what is right.
20 “You people who have escaped from other nations,
gather together and come before me;
come near together.
People who carry idols of wood don’t know what they are doing.
They pray to a god who cannot save them.
21 Tell these people to come to me.
Let them talk about these things together.
Who told you long ago that this would happen?
Who told about it long ago?
I, the Lord, said these things.
There is no other God besides me.
I am the only good God. I am the Savior.
There is no other God.
22 “All people everywhere,
follow me and be saved.
I am God. There is no other God.
23 I will make a promise by my own power,
and my promise is true;
what I say will not be changed.
I promise that everyone will bow before me
and will promise to follow me.
24 People will say about me, ‘Goodness and power
come only from the Lord.’ “
Everyone who has been angry with him
will come to him and be ashamed.
18For thus says the Lord–Who created the heavens, God Himself, Who formed the earth and made it, Who established it and did not create it to be a worthless waste; He formed it to be inhabited–I am the Lord, and there is no one else.
19I have not spoken in secret, in a corner of the land of darkness; I did not call the descendants of Jacob [to a fruitless service], saying, Seek Me for nothing [but I promised them a just reward]. I, the Lord, speak righteousness (the truth–trustworthy, straightforward correspondence between deeds and words); I declare things that are right.
20Assemble yourselves and come; draw near together, you survivors of the nations! They have no knowledge who carry about [in religious processions or into battle] their wooden idols and keep on praying to a god that cannot save.
21Declare and bring forward your strong arguments [for praying to gods that cannot save]; yes, take counsel together. Who announced this [the rise of Cyrus and his conquests] beforehand (long ago)? [What god] declared it of old? Was it not I, the Lord? And there is no other God besides Me, a rigidly and uncompromisingly just and righteous God and Savior; there is none besides Me.
22Look to Me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other.
23I have sworn by Myself, the word is gone out of My mouth in righteousness and shall not return, that unto Me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear [allegiance].
24Only in the Lord shall one say, I have righteousness (salvation and victory) and strength [to achieve]. To Him shall all come who were incensed against Him, and they shall be ashamed.