Bring forth the people who are blind, yet have eyes,
who are deaf, yet have ears!
Let all the nations gather together,
and let the peoples assemble.
Who among them declared this,
and foretold to us the former things?
Let them bring their witnesses to justify them,
and let them hear and say, “It is true.”
You are my witnesses, says the LORD,
and my servant whom I have chosen,
so that you may know and believe me
and understand that I am he.
Before me no god was formed,
nor shall there be any after me.
I, I am the LORD,
and besides me there is no savior.
I declared and saved and proclaimed,
when there was no strange god among you;
and you are my witnesses, says the LORD.
I am God, and also henceforth I am He;
there is no one who can deliver from my hand;
I work and who can hinder it? (Isaiah 43:8-13)
There are none so blind as those who will not see. It was hard for the Israelites to accept what seems obvious to us today: there is only one God. The Egyptian civilization out which Israel had been rescued and the Mesopotamian civilization into which they had settled was polytheistic to the core. Everyone the Israelites came in contact with believed in many deities: deities for each city, deities for each profession, deities for the seasons, even deities for individual households. It even seemed reasonable: after all, the very basis of civilization itself is a division of labor: not everyone farms, not everyone manufactures tools, not everyone is a scribe, not everyone is a king, or governor, or other bureaucratic official. The family itself divides labor between the father and mother, between the daughters and sons. The concept that there was but one God, that he had no beginning or end, that he was everywhere and was in charge of everything was hard for the Israelites to wrap their heads around. Additionally, as the time passed from those who had seen the miracles of the Exodus, the very reality of God seemed to fade. How could they rely on a God without symbols, without images? At least the gods they knew from the people around them were visible, even if their power was limited and their effectiveness in question. How could a God that was invisible do anything for them? Or against them?
It took the captivity of seventy years in Babylon for God to finally get through to the Israelites. God is real. He both can and will remind us of his involvement in our lives. God may be alone, but he does not leave us alone.