[reaction to OYB’s OT readings for Sep. 24-29]
In keeping with the last post comparing Christianity to Bhuddism, today’s passages from Isaiah remind me of what I know of Islam. First, we get several very clear announcements that not only is the God of Israel (usually also called Jacob by Isaiah) the bestest god, he is the only God. The refrain is, “I am YHWH, and there is no other; apart from me there is no God.” Also, in these passages the idols are really called out as being worthless. This is from Isaiah 44:10-11, “Who shapes a god and casts an idol, which can profit nothing? People who do that will be put to shame; such craftsmen are only human beings. Let them all come together and take their stand; they will be brought down to terror and shame.” The passage contrasts the false gods, which are made by their adherents, with the real by whom his adherents were made. Islam is not only fiercely monotheistic, but it takes concerns about idols and graven images very serious.
Another source of competition for God was magic. Isaiah doesn’t exactly call them fake, but finds them must less worthy than the creator of the universe. The final thing of note for me, is the evolution of God from War God, to only God for Israel, to only real God, seems to have inspired the notion that YHWH is the God for everyone. As it says in the forty-fifth chapter:
22 “Turn to me and be saved,
all you ends of the earth;
for I am God, and there is no other.
23 By myself I have sworn,
my mouth has uttered in all integrity
a word that will not be revoked:
Before me every knee will bow;
by me every tongue will swear.
24 They will say of me, ‘In the LORD alone
are deliverance and strength.’”
All who have raged against him
will come to him and be put to shame.
25 But all the descendants of Israel
will find deliverance in the LORD
and will make their boast in him.”
It interests me that the monotheists had to conclude that God’s target was more inclusive in order to transition to the notion that theirs was the only real God. I wonder if there are positive implications to that. Obviously, there are troubling negative impacts.