Today’s reading: Isaiah 28-30.
When trouble shows up at your doorstep, there are a limited number of ways to react.
- You can try to handle it alone.
- You can ask someone for help.
- You can ignore the problem (for a while).
- You can try to run.
- You can worry.
There may be a few other possibilities, but these were the main categories that were available for the people of Jerusalem and Judah as they faced a major problem. The Assyrian army had defeated Israel and was flooding their country. They recognized they needed help, but they looked for help in the wrong place. They turned to Egypt instead of the LORD. They looked for natural rather than supernatural aid. They wanted help they could see rather than the invisible hand of God. They didn’t want to wait on God; they wanted to do something now. So they sent their ambassadors off to Egypt, but God chastised them.
This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says: “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it. You said, ‘No, we will flee on horses.’ Therefore you will flee! You said, ‘We will ride off on swift horses.’ Therefore your pursuers will be swift!” Isaiah 30:15-16
They placed their bet on the power of horses rather than the power of God. Surely the horses of Egypt could help defeat the enemy! If not, then the horses would allow them to escape. Isaiah told them that Egypt could not rescue them, and if they relied on men their enemies would chase them down and quickly capture them. But there was a better way.
- Repentance, turning away from their rebellion and turning back to God
- Rest, waiting for God to act rather than trying to solve the problem themselves
- Quietness, another word for stillness and expectant waiting on God
- Trust, faith that God would rescue them
It’s fair to ask how much we should do on our own and how much we should leave to God. We aren’t rocks, but people with minds and wills. Isaiah didn’t condemn the people for responding to the crisis, but for responding in a worldly way.
- They ignored God.
- They made unholy alliances.
- They put their trust in men rather than God.
Isaiah closes by reminding the people of God’s compassion. Though they have made poor choices, God stands ready to help them when they return to him. Their enemy is destined for destruction. Those who wait on the LORD will be blessed.
But they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:31
Image by efilpera on Flickr, CC by-nc-sa 2.0