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Read Isaiah 46

Gods of Babylon

46 Bel bows down, Nebo stoops low;
    their idols are borne by beasts of burden.
The images that are carried about are burdensome,
    a burden for the weary.
They stoop and bow down together;
    unable to rescue the burden,
    they themselves go off into captivity.

“Listen to me, you descendants of Jacob,
    all the remnant of the people of Israel,
you whom I have upheld since your birth,
    and have carried since you were born.
Even to your old age and gray hairs
    I am he, I am he who will sustain you.
I have made you and I will carry you;
    I will sustain you and I will rescue you.

“With whom will you compare me or count me equal?
    To whom will you liken me that we may be compared?
Some pour out gold from their bags
    and weigh out silver on the scales;
they hire a goldsmith to make it into a god,
    and they bow down and worship it.
They lift it to their shoulders and carry it;
    they set it up in its place, and there it stands.
    From that spot it cannot move.
Even though someone cries out to it, it cannot answer;
    it cannot save them from their troubles.

“Remember this, keep it in mind,
    take it to heart, you rebels.
Remember the former things, those of long ago;
    I am God, and there is no other;
    I am God, and there is none like me.
10 I make known the end from the beginning,
    from ancient times, what is still to come.
I say, ‘My purpose will stand,
    and I will do all that I please.’
11 From the east I summon a bird of prey;
    from a far-off land, a man to fulfill my purpose.
What I have said, that I will bring about;
    what I have planned, that I will do.
12 Listen to me, you stubborn-hearted,
    you who are now far from my righteousness.
13 I am bringing my righteousness near,
    it is not far away;
    and my salvation will not be delayed.
I will grant salvation to Zion,
    my splendor to Israel.

Go Deeper

Isaiah 46 starts off by comparing and contrasting the greatness of God with Babylon’s false gods (specifically Bel and Neebo). At the time, Babylon was the most powerful empire on the earth. The Babylonians were full of pride and had idolized the gods that they worshiped with no regard for the one, true God. Even though the Babylonian empire had been elevated by God for a season, they couldn’t continue on this path of idol worship. God is the only One worthy of worship, so Babylon (and its gods) would ultimately have to be held accountable. Bel and Neebo would stoop and bow, showing that they couldn’t actually save anyone; only God is capable of doing that. 

God then reminds His people that He has sustained them all along (and will continue to do so). Re-read what is said in verse 4:

“Even to your old age and gray hairs
I am he, I am he who will sustain you.

I have made you and I will carry you;
I will sustain you and I will rescue you.”

While Bel and Neebo had to be carried around like the man-made gods that they were, God is reminding the Israelites here that He has been carrying them all along. Think about Isaiah’s original audience hearing this for the first time. As they heard God’s words through Isaiah, they likely would have been reminded of story after story they had heard of God’s faithfulness to the descendants of Jacob. God had remained faithful to Israel, even when they had wandered themselves.

As we read this passage, the temptation is to pat ourselves on the back for not falling prey to something like worshiping man-made statues. Unfortunately, we have our own modern-day ways of idolizing the trinkets and treasures of the world instead of the Creator of the universe. We have crafted our own idols of green pieces of paper and big pieces of metal that can drive on a highway. We care way too much about our reputation in the eyes of the world. We place our identity in things like job titles or the zip codes that we live in. 

Today, let’s remind ourselves that these idols will never sustain or carry us. They may bring us momentary pleasure. They may provide temporary comfort. But they’re never going to rescue us. The only rescuer is Jesus.


  1. What does this passage teach you about God? What does this passage teach you about humanity?
  2. What idols have you crafted in your own life (even if it was inadvertent)? How can you rid those idols from your lives? 
  3. How has God sustained you in the past? How has he been carrying you recently?

By the Way

The prophet Jeremiah also foretold the destruction of Bel. In Jeremiah 50:2 it is said that Bel will be put to shame and Jeremiah 51:44 says that Bel will be punished because of Babylon’s offenses against Israel.

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3 thoughts on “Isaiah 46”

  1. Looking back over the landscape of my life I can certainly trace the hand of God. There have been defining moments, both great ones and small ones, where he has carried and sustained me. There is never a time when he is not pursuing my heart. Living now in the present and looking forward to the future V3 offers incredible hope and comfort, “I created you and have cared for you since before you were born. I will be your God throughout your lifetime, until your hair is white with age. I made you, and I will care for you. I will carry you along and save you.” What thing in all the world can compare with that? No empty promises here, just an immense love that I do not deserve and totally humbles me.

  2. You are so right Ella, I also can see God’s hand all through my life. BUT GOD had and has so many other plans for me that I want to help Him along with. Therein lies my problem. I love God with all my being, and I want Him be Lord of my life in every single detail. 5 “With whom will you compare me or count me equal? To whom will you liken me that we may be compared? We are so idol “rich”, we use technology for our Bible but it still dings with notifications that can be distracting. Vs7 They lift it to their shoulders and carry it; they set it up in its place, and there it stands. From that spot it cannot move. Even though someone cries out to it, it cannot answer; it cannot save them from their troubles. For me my first thought was the television, I turn it on, turn off my thoughts and zone out. This technology could also be used as a tool, we do watch more wholesome shows but it still is not always turning my thoughts toward God. He states vs 9 I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me. Then He tell s ME in verse 12 Listen to me, you stubborn-hearted, you who are now far from my righteousness. 13 I am bringing my righteousness near, it is not far away; and my salvation will not be delayed. I love God. Every morning His grace and mercies are new. I can let Him be Lord, do what He is asking, endeavor not to try to “help” too much with my portion. Love like Jesus and see those through God’s love goggles not my eyes.

    Thank You God for grace!! Thank you for forgiveness. Thank You that I do not turn back to what You have brought me away from. Thank You for Your Love, hesed Love, unfailing, faithful, steadfast, loyal, covent, undeserved, reliable, abounding, kind, generous, complete (beyond my vocabulary) HESED (Hebrew word for God’s love) which is the essential omnipotent part of You God! in Jesus name amen

  3. If you think on it, probably at the time of Isaiah prophesying, he didn’t feel at times he was making any progress.(v 12 Listen to me, you stubborn-hearted,
    you who are now far from righteousness. ) But, if you turn over to John 1 you read, v 23 John replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet, “I am the voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way for the Lord.’” And then Phillip in v45 remembers the stories of Moses and the prophets to convince Nathanael to follow Jesus, too.
    I think today’s passage should encourage us not only with the word of God, but also to encourage us that even though presently the work you may be doing for the sake of the Lord is NOT in vain. It may seem hopeless and painstakingly at times, but it is never not used for His glory in the future. We follow Jesus for no self gain…no pat-on-the-back…sometimes no understanding…and sometimes, to look foolish to others. That’s the difference between a fan and a follower.
    Another great inspiring commentary and thoughts!! 🙌🏻

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