Thus says the Lord:
The wealth of Egypt and the merchandise of Ethiopia,
and the Sabeans, tall of stature,
shall come over to you and be yours,
they shall follow you;
they shall come over in chains and bow down to you.
They will make supplication to you, saying,
“God is with you alone, and there is no other;
there is no god besides him.”
Truly, you are a God who hides himself,
O God of Israel, the Savior.
All of them are put to shame and confounded,
the makers of idols go in confusion together.
But Israel is saved by the Lord
with everlasting salvation;
you shall not be put to shame or confounded
to all eternity.
For thus says the Lord,
who created the heavens
(he is God!),
who formed the earth and made it
(he established it;
he did not create it a chaos,
he formed it to be inhabited!):
I am the Lord, and there is no other.
I did not speak in secret,
in a land of darkness;
I did not say to the offspring of Jacob,
“Seek me in chaos.”
I the Lord speak the truth,
I declare what is right.
Reflection – Scott Ford
The Word of the Lord revealed to Isaiah proclaims in verse eighteen, “I am the Lord, and there is no other” (NRSV). If only our vision and grasp of the One True Lord could be held more clearly.
Polytheism. Henotheism. Radical Monotheism. In a seminary class on “the thought of H. Richard Neibuhr,” my classmates and I encountered these concepts in a way I hadn’t before. Polytheism, many little-g gods, got it. Monotheism, one big-G God, yep. Henotheism? That’s responding to one of the little-g gods as if it were the big-G God. And unfortunately, we do it all the time. Who? Us? Surely not, right? Nope. We’re guilty. A lot. How? It’s simple: in an overabundance of alcohol, in recreational drugs, in a significant other, in our addictive smartphones, in a hobby, in glorious distractions, in a sports team, in a political party, an ideology, online streaming services, in a little-g god way of life, in a way of being superior, in unhealthy ways of numbing the pain, in our methods of escape. We may not make giant piñatas of our cell phones and burn them during parades to our little-g gods, but we worship them, nonetheless. We worship that which is unworthy of our worship. We miss the point. We waste time. We run and hide. Why?
Monotheism is an idea, a great idea. Monotheism is an ideal, an aspiration. But we don’t live there. We can’t. We can’t reside on the high mountain’s peak. No, radical monotheism is fleeting. The best we can hope for is to catch little glimpses of God in our everyday lives – in the cry of an infant, the grief-filled tears of a loved one, a smile, one friend selflessly helping another, or better yet, a stranger selflessly helping another. We go through the motions, filling our days with rituals, habits, and practices. We seek God’s order. We may even seek an order that provides space for creative chaos, and we may find God there. We read, pray, worship, sing. And we catch glimpses, glimpses of God. We live and embody moments of radical monotheism, radical there-is-One-True-God sightings. We speak the truth in love. We extend an olive branch in love. We forgive in love. We fall in love. We care, we give, we go, we show up… in love. In the love of Jesus Christ who lived and walked among us, we can catch glimpses of who God is and who God created us to be. Have you seen a glimpse lately? Are you watching? Are you seeking?