“Ah, stubborn children, declares the LORD, who carry out a plan, but not mine, and who make an alliance, but not of my Spirit, that they may add sin to sin; who set out to go down to Egypt, without asking for my direction, to take refuge in the protection of Pharaoh and to seek shelter in the shadow of Egypt!” Isaiah 30:1-2
“But the Egyptians are mere mortals and not God; their horses are flesh and not spirit. When the LORD stretches out his hand, those who help will stumble, those who are helped will fall; all will perish together.” Isaiah 31:3
It is amazing how many times this has come up in the last month in some form. Have you ever heard of the Bible describing God as a jealous God? Well, when we ‘take refuge’ or ‘seek shelter’ in someone or something other than God, we rouse His jealousy. Not only that, but we ‘add sin to sin’. Not only do we sin by not trusting in God, but the path we choose to take often takes us into more sin.
Here we see God’s people, His children, doing exactly this. The sad truth is that we often fall into the same trap, and it is not always as clear as the rebellion of Judah, as shown in these verses. So I ask, ‘Who or what is your Egypt?’ Take a moment to meditate on this before diving deeper into it. For many it may be financial security, your job, your wife or husband, your best friend, your parents and many more things.
These are easier to see, but what about these scenarios? You have had bad day, so you find a quiet corner and read a book to bury all your worries or watch a feel good movie to pick yourself up. Perhaps you had a great day, and you celebrate by buying yourself a chocolate or taking the night off to give yourself a pat on the back. Don’t suddenly jump to the conclusion that I am saying these things are always sinful when you do them.
However, it is easy for us to rely on people or certain things as well as being thankful to someone or something before going to the one Person we should have gone to in the first place. This becomes even more dangerous when it becomes a habit (which it often does) and before you know it, God is a faint whisper in the background which you might follow in dire circumstances or only when in serious trouble.
Let us briefly look at why the way we live or react to circumstances can lead us into this sin. Some key phrases will help us. These phrases are: ‘carry out a plan, but not mine’, ‘who make an alliance, but not of my Spirit and ’who set out to go down to Egypt, without asking for my direction’. What we have essentially done is not lived by God’s Spirit in that moment and by making a decision out of God’s leading often we are no longer trusting in Him but in ourselves or in the people or things that we are pursuing.
By God’s Grace we will see this in our lives. I can confess that I have done this many times. We all have. My regret is always that I end up trusting in someone or something other than God in those moments. The danger lies in the fact that once this becomes a habit, we begin to trust that someone or something more and more. In the end, this becomes our ‘refuge of protection’ or our ‘shadow of shelter’.
Why should this worry us? Surely it does not matter and why tell me who to trust in? God calls us to trust in Him and there is no doubt that He is worth trusting. Talking about the same thing in the next chapter, God says, ‘But the Egyptians are mere mortals and not God; their horses are flesh and not spirit.’ Another place in Scripture says, ‘Why trust in mere mortals, they are as frail as breath.’
You may choose not to believe this, but it is truth: God is eternally greater than anyone or anything you choose to trust in. Man is nothing compared to Him who is Eternal and Holy, Him who is Glorious above all things. ‘Horses’, or things in this world, will perish and are merely flesh. We are call to live in the Spirit and not to follow the flesh.
Perhaps you still don’t agree. ‘Ah, stubborn children, declares the LORD.’ And still later on this warning unfolds,‘When the LORD stretches out his hand, those who help will stumble, those who are helped will fall; all will perish together.’ Oh, to see the futility of relying on anyone except God. Those who presume to take His place in someone’s heart will perish and those that presume to replace Him with someone else or something in their hearts will surely perish as well.
Again I ask you, ‘Who or what is your Egypt?’ There is no greater joy to be found or refuge or shelter or peace and so much more, than in Him, the amazing God in whom we trust. I pray that we will never be blind to this truth.