Click this link to hear an audio version of the below text narrated by SOTH member Jerry Rhinehart: http://sothrichfield.podbean.com
Isaiah 17:7-11 (NIV)
7 In that day people will look to their Maker and turn their eyes to the Holy One of Israel. 8 They will not look to the altars, the work of their hands, and they will have no regard for the Asherah poles and the incense altars their fingers have made. 9 In that day their strong cities, which they left because of the Israelites, will be like places abandoned to thickets and undergrowth. And all will be desolation. 10 You have forgotten God your Savior; you have not remembered the Rock, your fortress. Therefore, though you set out the finest plants and plant imported vines, 11 though on the day you set them out, you make them grow, and on the morning when you plant them, you bring them to bud, yet the harvest will be as nothing in the day of disease and incurable pain.
God made things with purpose and with beauty, he made things to be used by humans for the flourishing of life. Yet, we often turned those good and beautiful things into objects of worship that steal our hearts from God. We worship other humans like celebrities or sports stars. We worship our investments and our possessions. We worship our business or work projects. Put simply: We worship the work of our hands. John Calvin, the famous reformer, put it this way: “Man’s nature, so to speak, is a perpetual factory of idols”. But sooner or later those things will let us down. Nothing that we make with our own hands can save us. Throwing more money at the problem might make it go away for a little while, but death is always creeping at our door, laughing at our self-made plans. But God is far more powerful than death and far more capable of giving us what we need. God created it all in the first place! Christmas is an invitation to stop worshiping the “work of our hands” and trust that God already came to do the work of living righteously for us. We do not need to create something that saves us because we already have a savior! We do not need to earn our way into God’s good graces or buy our way into heaven because this work has already been done and gifted to us by Christ himself. Advent is a time when we remember that God is still at work and that we are the work of HIS hands for the sake of righteousness, justice, faithfulness, truth, and love. Let us pray: Heavenly Father, we praise you for your creation and all that is good in it. We ask that you would work in us. Shape us into the people you want us to be. Help us to remain humble and reject the temptation to worship the works of our own hands. In the name of Jesus. Amen.