Wednesday, September 21, 2005

The persuit of all else: Is 57:3-10

You have journeyed to the king with oil and increased your perfumes; you have sent your envoys a great distance and made them go down to Sheol. You were tired out by the length of your road, yet you did not say, ‘It is hopeless.’ You found renewed strength, therefore you did not faint.” (Isaiah 57:9-10)
God is addressing Israel’s long-standing pattern of seeking help from everyone else but God Himself. Many times, when Israel was in trouble, instead of turning to the Lord, they would seek others who might help them and defend them against their enemies. For example, when Rezin, the king of Aram, came up against Jerusalem, king Ahaz of Judah looked to Tiglath-pileser, king of Assyria, for help. “So Ahaz sent messengers to Tiglath-pileser king of Assyria, saying, ‘I am your servant and your son; come up and deliver me from the hand of the king of Aram and from the hand of the king of Israel, who are rising up against me.’ Ahaz took the silver and gold that was found in the house of the Lord and in the treasuries of the king's house, and sent a present to the king of Assyria.” (2 Kings 16:7-8) Israel was prone to forget the God who saved her and delivered her out of Egypt; the God who dispossed the nations of Canaan and gave her their land as an inheritance; the God who always forgave her and delivered her when she cried out to Him.

The problem with seeking help from the world is that there is always a cost. A great price was paid to secure the help of a neighboring nation. Often the price involved compromising what was sacred and giving away what was holy. When Assyria approached Jerusalem during the reign of King Hezekiah, in an attempt to persuade the King of Assyria to leave them alone, King Hezekiah not only gave him the treasures of the House of the Lord but he also stripped the gold from off the temple doors and gave it to him. “Hezekiah gave him all the silver which was found in the house of the Lord, and in the treasuries of the king's house. At that time Hezekiah cut off the gold from the doors of the temple of the Lord, and from the doorposts which Hezekiah king of Judah had overlaid, and gave it to the king of Assyria.” (2 Kings 18:15-16) The pursuit of the world is costly. It can cause you to compromise your values and give away what is precious and holy in the sight of God.

When we seek help from the world first, God calls it “spiritual harlotry.” In God’s eyes, it is akin to a wife seeking after another woman’s husband. As our bridegroom, God wants to be the one who meets our needs. He is waiting with all the help and provisions we could ever need, if only we would come and receive them from Him. “Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16) Grace, mercy, and help are not found in the world, there found before the throne of God.

We should ask ourselves the following questions. When I have a problem, when I’m in need, where do I turn first? When I’m lonely, do I turn to a boyfriend, girlfriend, or spouse for comfort? When I’m stressed and tired, do I turn to the television first? When things aren’t going right, do I first find a sympathetic ear to vent and complain to? Am I willing to compromise your beliefs in order to get that promotion I really want? All these pursuits are dead ends. Israel tiered themselves looking for help in all the wrong places. We can search all we want, but until we come to God, we will not find what we are looking for. Paul put it this way, “For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins.” (Hebrews 10:26) What Paul is saying is, if we pass Jesus by, there is nothing left for us. Jesus is the only game in town, there is no other game. There is no other savior and there is no other hope, Jesus is it. Let us learn to come to God first, not after we have wearied ourselves chasing after everything else and coming up empty.

David Robison

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