Idols are made by human hands, so they cannot save. To worship them is foolishness.
All the nations surrounding Israel had temples with idols–symbols or representatives of the gods. Though not themselves divine, idols were worshiped and served as though gods themselves, for through them the gods were thought to be accessible. Service of the idols secured the favor of the gods.
Isaiah, son of Amoz, who prophesied in Jerusalem, is included among the prophets of the eighth century B.C.E. (along with Amos, Hosea, and Micah)--preachers who boldly proclaimed God's word of judgment against the economic, social, and religious disorders of their time. More, however, insists that such worship is “nothing” for at least two reasons. The first reason is spelled out in detail in the fierce satire of this passage: Idols are made by human hands! How then can they possibly be gods? How can they save (v. 17)? The prophet’s concern here is God’s own: the point is not to condemn the idols simply as silly, though they are, but to get to the heart of the matter: they cannot save. God cares first and foremost for the well-being of Israel and of all the world, so God fervently wills that people do not squander their religious energies by “praying to a god that cannot save” (45:20).
How absurd, says the prophet, to worship human work. The work is real, the artistry is fine, the effort itself, perhaps commendable–but to worship this is nonsense. The prophet continually identifies God as the one “who made all things, who alone stretched out the heavens, who by myself spread out the earth” (44:24, etc.), so why would anyone worship a creature rather than the Creator?
The second reason Idolatry is the worship of something other than the true God. An idol may be a cult image, an idea, or an object made of wood or stone. Ome of the Ten Commandments specifically prohibits the worship of graven images or idols; this concern is... More worship is nothing (41:29) is that, contrary to human belief, there is “no one home” behind the idols: “I am the LORD, and there is no other” (45:5, 6, 18; see also 45:14, 22; 46:9). Gods and spirits populate the religious world throughout human history, but Second Isaiah refers chapters 40-55 of the book of Isaiah. This work was likely written during Israel's exile in Babylon (597-538 B.C.E.). Second Isaiah includes poetic passages of hope as well as descriptions of the Suffering Servant. More makes the strongest biblical case for their non-being. Not merely are they false gods, they are no gods at all. There is none besides God.
Because of Israel’s sin, their eyes are closed and minds shut (44:18; compare 6:9-10), which might make them susceptible to the idolatry of the nations. The prophet calls them back from this by this satirical denunciation of idols.