Isaiah 44:6 “”This is what the Lord says–Israel’s King and Redeemer, the Lord Almighty: I am the first and the last; apart from me there is no God.”
Maybe you and I have never tried worshipping something made out of a dead tree or lifeless chunk of marble. But we have dabbled in the search for a better god. Where do we think the solution to a world problem like AIDS is most likely to be found? In the Gospel of a crucified and risen Savior? In a science lab on some university campus? Or in the sessions of a state or national legislature? Where is our ultimate source of security as we prepare ourselves for old-age and retirement? A government Social Security check? An individual retirement account? Children who understand the responsibility of caring for their aged parents? Or in the God who assures us that not even a sparrow falls to the ground without him knowing, a God who promises that we are much more important to him than sparrows? Anytime we become discontented with what we have, or how healthy we are, or how we are being treated, you and I are sorely tempted to join in the search for a better god. Certainly he wants us to use the resources he has given us to make things better. But he demands that our trust remain in him, not what he created. He asks us to go to him for help first and not attempt to leave him out of the solution. He expects us to accept his will for our lives, whatever that may be, not set ourselves up as the final judge of what is good for us and what is not. Israel’s idolatry led them right out of a relationship with God. It led them right into famine, war, exile–more problems than they knew how to handle. Our idolatry, hidden as it might be, can do the same. Ultimately it leads to death and hell.
Through Isaiah, the Lord promises there is no one else like our God. In the very names the Lord uses to describe himself, we are reminded of the wonderful care he provides. He says he is Israel’s King. The concept of “king” may not be so clear to us today. The Lord does not mean the powerless figurehead of some weak European nation. Nor are we talking about a Kim Jong Un who lives in senseless luxury while his people starve and die. A king has important responsibilities toward his people. As our king the Lord provides for our defense and protection. He gives us his own armor: truth, righteousness, the gospel, faith, salvation, and even the Holy Spirit to protect us from Satan’s attack. We became his own children, citizens of his kingdom, when we were baptized. Now God promises we belong to him, and if anyone else tries to get us, they are going to have to fight him for us.
And hasn’t the Lord always been fighting for us? When you read the Old Testament, you see that he was always fighting to protect his chosen people. Even when they chose to defect to other gods, he wasn’t satisfied to say, “Goodbye! See you! Have a nice time over there!” Nor did he wipe them out in his fury. He fought Satan for them. He loved these people and kept dragging them back. He does the same for us. As our King, the Lord is our protector. He will do whatever it takes to protect our faith, to protect our salvation. When we are teetering on the edge, when Satan is sinking his claws into us, our King fights for us with his word, with the power and comfort of his Gospel. You can’t find another God who protects us like our King. There is no one else like him.
We know his care even better in his role as Redeemer. Nothing distinguishes our God from all the others more than this. Former missionary to Zambia Ernst Wendland used to tell about the sheer terror the Africans in Zambia and Malawi felt toward their native gods. These were not gods they loved and trusted. They were constantly afraid of what their gods might do to them if the people didn’t keep them happy. But our God is our Redeemer. Not only has he done everything for our salvation himself, he has made it clear he doesn’t want us even to attempt paying for it on our own. He loved us enough to give his own life in place of ours. He loved us enough to give us heaven as a free gift. There is no one else who takes care of us like this. There is simply no one else like our God.