One of the most interesting questions in the Bible is one the Hebrews asked of the ancient prophet Isaiah about 500 years before Christ. They returned to their dismal homeland after a time of captivity and asked, “Since Babylon overpowered us, does this mean the gods of Babylon are greater than the God of Judah?”
The northern kingdom of Israel was destroyed by Assyria in 722 B.C. Judah survived about 150 years longer before King Nebuchadnezzar and his Babylonian army came in fury in 586 B.C. Jerusalem, the city of David, lay desolate. The temple of Solomon was no more and the Ark of the Covenant containing the tablets from God disappeared. The prophet Jeremiah was an eye-witness as he walked through the smoldering ruins and recorded his thoughts in The Lamentations. Jeremiah explained clearly that this was God’s punishment for Judah’s rebellion.
Many survivors were taken to Babylon and remained for some 70 years. In the strange land the people encountered a different culture and different worship. Naturally they were curious about the Babylonian deities.
Isaiah responded to their questions with a story. A forester planted a tree, and a woodsman felled it. The woodsman took some of the wood to warm himself, and some to cook his food. With the remainder, he made a god and fell down before it (Isaiah 44: 14-19).
Isaiah evidently referred to the annual Festival of Marduk, the chief Babylonian deity, when lesser gods were carted into the temple to be with Marduk. The prophet continued his analysis: “they lift it to their shoulders and carry it . . . ” (Isaiah 46:7).
In other words, the writer insisted the gods of Babylon were made of scrap lumber and had to be carried in for worship. In contrast, the God of Judah says, “Listen to me, O house of Jacob . . . even to your old age, I am He, and even to gray hairs I will carry you!” (Isaiah 46: 3-4).
The God of Judah carries us through all life decisions from choosing faith to career and marriage. And the writer of Hebrews insisted he further partners with us in our suffering and in some unique way, he suffers with us (Hebrews 4:15). He promises to be with us even to the time of “gray hair.” Gray hair can be disguised today, but the promise is that God will carry us to our senior years, too.
The greatest crisis we face is death, and God promises to carry us there safely. As David wrote so long ago, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me” (Psalm 23:4).