These two chapters discuss the uselessness of idols. Compared to Jehovah, these idols are literally nothing. Whereas Jehovah created everything and has all power and uses that power to bless the lives of the children of Israel. The idols cannot help the children of men.
The two idols Isaiah targets are Bel and Nebo. Bel is also known as Marduk.
Ludlow explains the reason why these idols were loaded onto carts and moved by beasts to a different location. "Ancient man believed that each god had a certain territory in which he was to be worshipped. (Though a god could be worshipped anywhere, it was most effective to worship him in his own land.) If a person moved to another location, he would then worship and give honor to the god of that particular land. Ancient man also believed that the lives of the gods were reflected in their own lives. For example, if the people of one city were defeated by the people of another city, they believed it to be because there had been a war in heaven in which the god of the victorious nation defeated their god." (391)
Isaiah ridicules the idols and mocks how they must be transported by beasts. "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." (Isaiah 46:1-2)
Furthermore, these idols cannot answer prayers. In Isaiah 46:7 he says, "one shall cry unto him, yet can he not answer, nor save him out of his trouble."
The Living God
In contrast, the Living God is unique. He can see from the beginning to the end and he has his own will … he can act. Isaiah 46:10 says, "Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are no yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure."
The Living God can also save his people. Isaiah 46:13 says, "I bring my righteousness; it shall not be far off, and my salvation shall not tarry: and I will place salvation in Zion for Israel my glory."
In Isaiah 47, Isaiah describes why Babylon fell and will fall again in the latter-days.
Isaiah 47:10 sums up nicely Babylon's greatest weakness. "For thou hast trusted in thy wickedness: thou hast said, None seeth me. Thy wisdom and thy knowledge, it hath perverted thee; and thou hast said in thine heart, I am, and none else beside me."
Babylon saw no need and felt she had no obligation to anyone. She was an agent unto herself … free to do as she pleased. She attained her own wisdom and knowledge and thought she was powerful. She did not acknowledge the true and Living God. She did not understand her position in the world … she trusted in the arm of flesh rather than in the arm of God.
How often do we thank the Lord for his help in our lives? Do we recognize the hand of the Lord in our lives or do we think we are solely responsible for all our successes?
We are commanded and counseled to gain as much education as possible, but we must also always recognize the hand of the Lord in all our studies and gains and labors.
The Book of Mormon teaches, "O that cunning plan of the evil one! O the vainness, and the frailties, and the foolishness of men! When they are learned they think they are wise, and they hearken not unto the counsel of God, for they set it aside, supposing they know of themselves, wherefore, their wisdom is foolishness and it profiteth them not. And they shall perish. But to be learned is good if they hearken unto the counsels of God" (2 Nephi 9:28-29)