13 The Lord says:
“These people come near to me with their mouth
and honor me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me.
Their worship of me
is based on merely human rules they have been taught.[b]
14 Therefore once more I will astound these people
with wonder upon wonder;
the wisdom of the wise will perish,
the intelligence of the intelligent will vanish.”
15 Woe to those who go to great depths
to hide their plans from the Lord,
who do their work in darkness and think,
“Who sees us? Who will know?”
16 You turn things upside down,
as if the potter were thought to be like the clay!
Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it,
“You did not make me”?
Can the pot say to the potter,
“You know nothing”? (Isaiah 29:13-16)
- Who are “these people?” — residents of Jerusalem, people of Judah
- BUT – contrast between verbal (mouths, lips) worship and service and drawing near with the heart
- The assets – wisdom, intelligence – will be taken away
- They have reversed the order of things and put themselves in the place of God (the pot thinks it is the potter, the clay the artist)
This hits close to home today. Isaiah warns them of the danger of speaking the right things, worshiping the right way – but still being far from God. The ultimate problem here is putting myself in the place of God: thinking that I know better than God (the earlier comment about wisdom and intelligence seem to bear this out. To think that I am smarter than God is the ultimate hubris!)
Isaiah warns of a progression I think – it starts with outward observance but no inner life with God. It moves to a reliance on my own intelligence and wisdom. It deepens to living as if God cannot perceive what I think or do (or turns a blind eye anyway). And it ends in the foolish notion that I am smarter, higher, wiser than God.
It is easy to think I am honoring God with my life, with my ministry and, in fact, be far from him. It is far too easy to think my brains are enough, my wisdom is sufficient, to ignore the intelligence and wisdom of God.
My dog thinks she is a person. She doesn’t know any better 🙂 Sometimes this pot thinks he is the potter, this clay slips into believing he is the artist. Words to ponder today and a moment to humble myself before the Potter.
Lord, let my prayers be more than words today – but a drawing near to you. May my thoughts be not my own but a seeking after your wisdom, your thoughts. I confess this clay often thinks it is the potter and is shaping itself. This clay wants today to be molded by a real artist, by you. Amen.