Text: Isaiah 31:1-9
“It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in man.” —Psalm 118:8
I have a friend who likes to ask, “How are you faithing today?” I love that because the definition of “faithing” is the actual practice of a faith; it’s not just the static belief systems that might be attached to our faith, but the dynamic actions, expressions, or movements of our faith. It’s trust in action!
Maybe you’ve heard the story of the man who was walking next to a cliff when he suddenly fell over the edge. Managing to grab a hold of a tree limb hanging from the cliff, desperation is heard in his cry for help. Hanging hundreds of feet off the ground, he pleads repeatedly, “God, please help me” before a voice from the heavens replies: “Do you believe in me?” “Yes, yes,” says the man. “Do you trust me?”, the voice asks. “Yes, please, just help me.” “Then, let go,” the voice commands. Anxiously, the man looks up and says, “Is there anyone else up there I can talk to?” This guy obviously wasn’t faithing very well.
In Isaiah 31, we see God calling His people to stop trusting in man and to begin faithing by trusting in Him during a season of uncertainty. Judah is facing the severe threat of Assyrian invasion, while King Hezekiah’s counselor has recommended that he establish an alliance with Egypt for protection against such a threat. Egypt had a notable stature of military might and collective strength, but their help would only be a false sense of security—for “The Egyptians are man, and not God, and their horses are flesh, and not spirit.”
The prophet Isaiah confronts Judah of two sins in particular. First being the sin of trusting in Egypt and their impressive resources, whose “chariots” were “many” and their “horsemen” were “very strong.” Secondly, they were rebuked for the sin of not looking “to the Holy One of Israel” for their salvation in such a time of crisis. How much better to have the heart of the psalmist in Psalm 20:7, when he said, “Some trust in chariots, and some in horses; but we will remember the name of the LORD our God.”
Hezekiah’s response to the crisis in a secular approach rather than a spiritual approach would be incriminating. Leaning on human strength would be foolish, as God doesn’t need the help of earthly empires to bring about His wonders in our lives. There is no protection to be found in the mortal forces of Egypt. Trusting in the arm of flesh in a time of crisis will always leave us vulnerably deceived, exposed, and eventually disappointed. God longs to be our refuge, our protection, and our TRUST.
Isaiah assured Judah that “the Assyrian shall fall by a sword, not of man.” Then we read in 2 Kings 19:35 how God simply sent the angel of the LORD and put to death 185,000 Assyrians in one night! It was a victory that had nothing to do with the arm of flesh or the sword of man. God was more than able to protect Judah and Jerusalem. The next thing it says is that the King of Assyria “broke camp and withdrew.” I love that imagery as it pertains to spiritual warfare in our lives.
You want to know how to break the camp of the enemy and put your spiritual nemesis to flight? James put it this way: “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). Sometimes this submitting and resisting can be interpreted as a two-step process, but I don’t think that’s the proper implication. I believe that both happen synchronously when we do one thing: TRUST in the LORD over our own understanding. Think about that as you seek to abide in Him this week.
Lord, help us to serve you by “faithing” well during seasons of duress in our lives, to not just give you mental assent in our beliefs, but to truly let go of our inhibitions and fully trust that You will surely take care of us in these times. May that trust lead us into appropriate faith in action in the daily grind of our lives. We pray this in Jesus’ name, Amen.
Questions for personal reflection, small group discussion, or dinner table conversations:
- When have you depended on someone only to discover that he or she has let you down? What are some examples of lessons that you have had to learn the hard way?
- What did Isaiah insist would be the outcome of reliance on Egypt? (Isaiah 31:1-3) To what wild animal did Isaiah compare the Lord’s vengeance against Israel’s enemies? (vv4-9)
- Why do people often feel there is security to be gained outside of God? How would you describe the symptoms of trusting in the arm of flesh rather than the arm of the Lord?
- In what ways has God already proven His faithfulness over your life?
- What is one practical way you could place your sense of security in God? What does “faithing” look like for you this week?
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