Making Gods out of Wood


The ironsmith takes a cutting tool and works it over the coals. He fashions it with hammers and works it with his strong arm. He becomes hungry, and his strength fails; he drinks no water and is faint. The carpenter stretches a line; he marks it out with a pencil. He shapes it with planes and marks it with a compass. He shapes it into the figure of a man, with the beauty of a man, to dwell in a house. He cuts down cedars, or he chooses a cypress tree or an oak and lets it grow strong among the trees of the forest. He plants a cedar and the rain nourishes it. Then it becomes fuel for a man. He takes a part of it and warms himself; he kindles a fire and bakes bread. Also he makes a god and worships it; he makes it an idol and falls down before it. Half of it he burns in the fire. Over the half he eats meat; he roasts it and is satisfied. Also he warms himself and says, “Aha, I am warm, I have seen the fire!” And the rest of it he makes into a god, his idol, and falls down to it and worships it. He prays to it and says, “Deliver me, for you are my god!”

They know not, nor do they discern, for he has shut their eyes, so that they cannot see, and their hearts, so that they cannot understand. No one considers, nor is there knowledge or discernment to say, “Half of it I burned in the fire; I also baked bread on its coals; I roasted meat and have eaten. And shall I make the rest of it an abomination? Shall I fall down before a block of wood?” He feeds on ashes; a deluded heart has led him astray, and he cannot deliver himself or say, “Is there not a lie in my right hand?” Isaiah 44:12-20 ESV

Their idols are silver and gold,
the work of human hands.
They have mouths, but do not speak;
eyes, but do not see.
They have ears, but do not hear;
noses, but do not smell.
They have hands, but do not feel;
feet, but do not walk;
and they do not make a sound in their throat.
Those who make them become like them;
so do all who trust in them. Psalm 115:4-8 ESV


Calvin was playing with his toy tiger, Hobbes. Hobbes was only a stuffed animal, but Calvin believed that he could see and hear and talk and move. Calvin and Hobbes were playing with water, and Suzy wanted to join them. Calvin gave Hobbes a water balloon to throw at Suzy, but since Hobbes was just a toy, when Calvin ran around the house Suzy took the water balloon away from Hobbes and threw it at Calvin. Calvin got very wet, and he was angry with Hobbes for letting Suzy have the water balloon. He had been foolish to trust a stuffed tiger to help him or to save him from Suzy!

God’s people were doing something even more foolish, and the prophet Isaiah tried to warn them about it. They were trusting in idols to save them. Idols were false gods and goddesses that were made out of wood or stone or metal. Isaiah talked about how a wooden idol was made. First an ironsmith made the tool that was needed to carve the idol, getting tired and hungry in the process. Then the carpenter took over. He found the right piece of wood, designed the idol, and carved it, but he didn’t use the whole log of wood for the idol. Part of the same wood he used as fuel for his fire, to warm himself and to cook his food. How silly to bow down and worship something that is all made by a person’s hard work! How foolish to worship one part of the wood, while the other part was burned in the fire! How could a person expect that piece of wood to help or save anyone?

We sometimes trust in other things than God to help us and to save us. We especially trust in our own effort and hard work when we have trouble, and we forget that God gives us everything we have, and that we can’t do anything without his help. This is especially true when it comes to getting rid of our sins and becoming right with God. No matter how hard we try, we can’t get rid of the sin in our lives or do enough good to make up for it. We need God’s forgiveness, a forgiveness we could never earn. But Jesus came to help us by dying on the cross to pay the full penalty for our sins. Because of Jesus, our sins are forgiven, and we are right with God now and forever. We can always trust in God to save us and to help us.


Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for sending Jesus, our Savior, and for forgiving us and helping us every day. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.


Watterson, Bill Yukon Ho! Kansas City: Andrews and McMeel, 1989, pp. 28-29.