Friday, May 12, 2006

Isaiah 7 - Politics will not save you


In the first part of Isaiah 7 is an interesting and poetic description of the dire circumstances Judah is in at the commencement of the reign of Ahaz.   They are being attacked by the Northern tribes (Israel) and have just gotten wind of an alliance between Israel and Assyria.   Judah is understandably on edge about this development and I think we can assume that Ahaz is considering some plans of his own to remedy the situation, perhaps a similar alliance with an outside nation. 

Isaiah is sent to give this heavenly advice to Ahaz:  Be still.  Yes, the situation looks dire at the moment, but don’t put your trust in political alliances, because this one with Assyria will be a disaster.  And moreover, because I really want you know that it is the Lord that is telling you this, I’ll throw in a sign for free. 

Interestingly, Ahaz refuses the sign, I might have thought this a noble thing to do, but clearly the Lord is displeased that Ahaz is ignoring his councel. 

The thing that interests me about this account is that it has direct application to my own life and my own battles with the things that beset me.    We may think that we are relying on the Lord, but the real test is when the opposition gets stiff.  If we are relying on the arm of flesh, a crisis will cause us to drop all pretenses of relying on God and we will cling fully to the other sources we actually trust.  It’s like being adrift at sea with a life preserver.  We might casually hold on to it when the seas are calm, but when the storm comes, we will find ourselves clinging to the thing that we really think will save us.  In the case of Ahaz, he thought that political strategy and alliances would save Judah.  He and the kings after him were wrong about that in spite of many dire warnings from the Lord’s servants.    We are in a similar position.   We see the outside forces of the world encroaching in on us, making alliances that make them appear ever stronger and more persuasive.  It is tempting to let go of our faith at these times and rely on our own reasoning and understanding and ability to save us.  For example, we may be worried about making a living, so we start working on Sundays, or our concern for success and social status may cause us to give up time for family and prayer or We may want a comfortable retirement so we put off children.  Worse still, perhaps we put off repentance until we are “ready”. 

The Lord’s message to me is:  “Trust in Me.”  Even though armies are combining against you, trust that I will deliver you.  Don’t turn to the world for deliverance, because if you do, your personal desolation will be terrible.   I’ve seen the Lord working in my life enough to know that this is true.  It helps my faith to see that this has ever been God’s advice from age to age through all history. 



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