I am currently reading through Isaiah in my morning devotions – and for anyone who has read this book of the Bible, you already know that it talks about Israel’s rebellion, turning away from God, destruction by the Assyrians, homecoming, repentance, turning back to God, restoration, among many other things. You also know that it isn’t always the easiest book to understand either.
Last week I came to Isaiah chapter 30 and it stopped me dead in my reading. This chapter has been on my mind since I first read it, so I knew I had to write about it. I won’t go through it verse by verse (you can do that on your own!), but I will share with you the main points that stuck out to me. Despite it being written about Judah, hundreds of years before Jesus walked the earth, this applies to us today – more than I think we even know.
To put this into context, Judah were under threat by the Assyrian army at the time.
1 “Woe to the rebellious children,” declares the Lord, “Who execute a plan, but not Mine, And make an alliance, but not of My Spirit, In order to add sin to sin; 2 Who proceed down to Egypt Without consulting Me, To take refuge in the safety of Pharaoh And to seek shelter in the shadow of Egypt! 3 “Therefore the safety of Pharaoh will be your shame And the shelter in the shadow of Egypt, your humiliation. 4 “For their princes are at Zoan And their ambassadors arrive at Hanes. 5 “Everyone will be ashamed because of a people who cannot profit them, Who are not for help or profit, but for shame and also for reproach.”
This section of the chapter talks about the Judeans who are turning to Egypt to seek shelter from the Assyrian persecution. Sounds pretty harmless, right? Don’t we often go to our neighbors when we’re in trouble?
What you may not know is that in the Old Testament, (most believe) when Egypt is mentioned, it is a reference to “the world” or “worldliness”. You see, Egypt was full of luxuries, wealth, power, control – the things that this world highly values. The Egyptian empire kept the Jews in bondage for 430 years and then God broke them from Pharaoh’s grip, calling them to live in relationship with Him in the Promised Land (Israel).
Here they were, under the Assyrian persecution, wanting to run right back into the arms of a nation that held them in bondage for so many years! And for what!? Some sense of false security, safety, provision…? Why wouldn’t they turn to the God who has saved them before, who desires more than anything to know them and love them in a personal relationship?
Isn’t that just like us?! When we’re in trouble, don’t we go to a familiar place? Don’t we go somewhere that is known, comfortable, easy – regardless of what it might actually cost us?
I know in my life I have done this too many times to count! When I’ve been in a bind, when I’ve had a hard situation to deal with, a relationship break-up, you name it – I’ve run to something that I was certain to make me feel safe, protected and sometimes numb the pain I was feeling. I’ve run back to unhealthy relationships, I’ve run into new unhealthy relationships, I’ve turned to alcohol, marijuana. I’ve even tried to sleep my way through these situations, hoping that when I finally got out of bed days later, I’d feel better and the whole thing will have passed on.
You know where I didn’t run to? To my Heavenly Father who loves me dearly and knows my every hurt, weakness and trial. Not at that time in my life – and sometimes not even now, when I’m in a moment of weakness or panic.
If you want some examples of how I’ve run to the world in the past, check out a few of my earlier blog posts below:
I could stay on this topic forever, but let’s go ahead and move on.
12 Therefore thus says the Holy One of Israel,
“Since you have rejected this word And have put your trust in oppression and guile, and have relied on them, 13 Therefore this iniquity will be to you Like a breach about to fall, A bulge in a high wall, Whose collapse comes suddenly in an instant, 14 Whose collapse is like the smashing of a potter’s jar, So ruthlessly shattered That a sherd will not be found among its pieces To take fire from a hearth Or to scoop water from a cistern.”
Now this section sounds a bit harsh. That’s because it is! When the Judean’s put their trust in Egypt instead of God, they are accepting all that Egypt can offer them – or should I say what they refuse to let God offer them? Rather than allowing God to protect them, the Judeans chose what they could physically see in Egypt. Because of this, Judah would collapse.
Again, I think this is such a clear picture of us. When we run to the things of this world, rather than the Lord our God, don’t things tend to get worse? You may feel better for a short period of time while you are medicating your situation with whatever you run to, but don’t you typically feel worse afterward? I always do. Somehow, ignoring the trouble doesn’t make it go away! Who knew!?
The only way to truly deal with a situation in a healthy way is to turn to God and allow Him to direct you through it – allow Him to fulfill His will in the situation. Oh, and if you started by turning to the world, repent and ask for His forgiveness!
15 For thus the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, has said,
“In repentance and rest you will be saved, In quietness and trust is your strength.”
God even tells the Judeans that if they would trust in Him, they would be saved from their persecution. Want to know what else He says?
18 Therefore the Lord longs to be gracious to you, And therefore He waits on high to have compassion on you. For the Lord is a God of justice; How blessed are all those who long for Him.
19 O people in Zion, inhabitant in Jerusalem, you will weep no longer. He will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry; when He hears it, He will answer you. 20 Although the Lord has given you bread of privation and water of oppression, He, your Teacher will no longer hide Himself, but your eyes will behold your Teacher. 21 Your ears will hear a word behind you, “This is the way, walk in it,” whenever you turn to the right or to the left. 22 And you will defile your graven images overlaid with silver, and your molten images plated with gold. You will scatter them as an impure thing, and say to them, “Be gone!”
How awesome is this!? If they (I mean we) would only trust God, then He longs to be gracious to them (I mean us)! You will weep no longer. He will be gracious to you at the sound of your cry! When He hears your cry, He will answer you! Is that not incredible?
How is it that a God who created this entire universe and everything in it, longs to be gracious to me? Well, it’s because He cares for me and He desires a personal relationship with me (prove it). Jesus tells us in Revelation 3:20 that “… if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.”
The end of this chapter talks about how God will lay punishment on Assyria – and boy did He!? You can read in 2 Kings 19:35 that in one night the angel of the Lord struck down 185,000 Assyrians in their camp.
So what is the moral to this ancient story? Stop running to the world! Stop running to the things of this world! Turn to the God who loves you. Trust in Him during your times of trouble. If you don’t know how, contact me privately – I’d be happy to talk to you more about this!
What I’ve learned:
- Running to the things of this world (unhealthy relationships, alcohol, drugs, sleep, etc.) don’t make my situation better – they actually make it worse.
- Trusting in the Lord, my God is my only true hope to work through the troubles of this world.
- I may have to deal with some pain in my circumstance as I move closer to trusting God and His will for my life.
- What situation in your life has prompted you to run to the world for comfort?
- In what way has this affected you?
- What do you need to trust God for right now?
- How can you turn back to Him and trust His protection for you? Do you need to repent?
- How can you encourage someone else to trust God today?
If you need prayer, please contact me privately. I would love to pray for you.