Those Who Exalt Themselves will Be Humbled
Preparing for the Tenth Sunday after Pentecost: Three Days before Sunday (Year C)
Psalter: Psalm 80:1-2, 8-19
Old Testament: Isaiah 2:5-11
Epistle: Hebrews 10:26-31
Psalter: Psalm 82
Old Testament: Joshua 7:1, 10-26
Epistle: Hebrews 10:26-31
God of all the nations, you rescued your people out of the Red Sea and delivered Rahab from battle; you rescue the lowly and needy from injustice and tribulation. Surround us with so great a cloud of witnesses that we may have faith to live by your word in our time, courage to persevere in the race set before us, and endurance in the time of trial. Amen.
Their land is filled with idols;
they bow down to the work of their hands,
to what their own fingers have made.
And so people are humbled,
and everyone is brought low—(Isaiah 2:8-9a)
Well-known atheist, Richard Dawkins laments that in the 21st century we modern enlightened people have yet to abandon our primitive belief in God, in a deity as he believes of our own making. And while it is true that in the Western world more and more people are questioning the existence of God, belief in some kind of deity is still popular.
The belief that more knowledge and intelligence lead to atheism is an assertion at best. In fact, the Bible states clearly and human history shows, that human beings are incurably religious. We will worship anything—images of stone and wood, hobbies and leisure, money and sex—whatever we deem of importance. Dawkins is not completely wrong when he argues that people have created God in their image. The truth of the matter is human beings face the ever-present desire to make God like themselves, to domesticate the deity so that their lives are little more than affirmed by the divine, instead of judged by God’s holy gaze.
What makes idolatry idolatrous is that it ultimately amounts to nothing other than self-worship. We make God after our image when we project on to God our wants, our needs, and our desires. We bow down to our our ingenuity, our accomplishments our successes. We make what we have ours instead of something of which we are stewards. God is still acknowledged, so we can comfort ourselves that we are not heathens like Dawkins; but we are so focused on ourselves we become practical atheists— that is, we believe in God, but that belief makes little difference in our lives.
In Isaiah’s day the people of Israel had become “too big for their britches.” It was time to bring the people “down to size.” Judgment was coming. A little humility was in order; but it was going to be painful. How sad but true that we human beings wait to do the right thing until the pain of staying the same is worse than the pain of change. Israel’s self-exaltation would result in a humbling devastation.
Jesus says that those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted (Matthew 23:12). Even though the temptation to do otherwise may be great, let us proceed each day in humility by calling attention, not to ourselves, but to he God who has given us all things.
PRAYER: Judge eternal, you love justice and hate oppression; you give peace to those who seek it, and you condemn the rage of violence. Give us courage to take our stand with all victims of bloodshed and greed, and, following your servants and prophets, look to Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. Amen.
Check out my podcast “Faith Seeking Understanding,” on these platforms: Anchor, Google Podcasts, Pocket Casts, Radio Public, Spotify, and Apple Podcasts.
I found that the most sceptical people of a profound religous experience are those in Church, long time goers who think a blow in off the street can not have had an experience greater than theirs and are somewhat condescending and only the few beautific will listen and understand.