Bel boweth down, Nebo stoopeth, their idols were upon the beasts, and upon the cattle: your carriages were heavy loaden; they are a burden to the weary beast. They stoop, they bow down together; they could not deliver the burden, but themselves are gone into captivity. Hearken unto me, O house of Jacob, and all the remnant of the house of Israel, which are borne by me from the belly, which are carried from the womb: And even to your old age I am he; and even to hoar hairs will I carry you: I have made, and I will bear; even I will carry, and will deliver you.Isaiah 46:1-4
Bel is a pagan God of Babylon, and is another spelling for Baal. Nebo is a Babylonian God. Names like Nebuchadnezzar were names given to prominent figures in Babylon as a tribute to this god. When times of crisis came, like when Cyrus, King of Persia, came to take over Babylon, these idols had to be defended and carried on beasts of burden.
These idols that were worshipped by these people had to be carried and defended by these people when things got bad.
In contrast, the God of Israel says that He has carried his people from the womb and will carry them until old age and beyond. From conception beyond grey-headedness God will carry His people. He says in verse four that he made them, he will bear them, and he will deliver them.
So, what is the contrast? The worshippers of false idols have to carry their idols in times of crisis. God carries His worshippers at all times.
For most of the people to which I minister, and for myself, bowing down to a graven image of some false idol is not my temptation. Yet, that does not mean that we do not have a problem with idolatry. The truth is we give ourselves over to created things in worship all the time. In times of crisis these created things that we worship will not ultimately sustain or save us. Sure, things that are created can help us, but the truth is none of these things can really carry us, especially in ultimate things. We need to be saved, and the only one who can ultimately do that is God Himself. Our cars, houses, jobs, spouses, hobbies, devices, careers, or money cannot ultimately carry us. Only God can do this for us.
The passage this week really is about idolatry. An idol is anything that receives worship that is due to God. Is there any idol in your life that you are tempted to worship? The first step to rejecting it is naming it.