Posts Tagged 'rebellious children'

ISAIAH, Part 4

One spoiled kid!

Woe to Rebellious Children

Isaiah 30

Chapter 30 of Isaiah presents another “woe,” this one issued by the Lord to Judah. These “woes,” beginning in chapter 28, contain both promises and threats to various people. The “woes” proclaimed went out to:

  • the leaders of Ephraim and Judah (ch. 28)

  • the City of David (ch. 29)

  • Judah, the stubborn nation (ch. 30)

  • those who were relying on Egypt, (ch. 31)

After all that God had done for His people, for some reason, instead of turning to Him for help in times of crisis, they continually turned away from Him and sought the help of other nations. This time, they turned to the now-feeble nation of Egypt. It was a ridiculous idea; Egypt was weak and getting weaker. What help could they possibly offer to Judah? Turning to them made no sense whatsoever, but that fact didn’t stop Judah from doing just that.

Like all sin, this rebellious act had no thought behind it. It would only harm Judah. When sin is looked at from God’s perspective, it never makes sense. It always harms the one involved in it. But that is the nature of rebellion. Like the spoiled child who, though hungry and thirsty, screams and throws his bowl of food on the floor and spits out his milk ends up with nothing to eat or drink, when the believer stubbornly refuses to turn to God, preferring to turn to others for help, he ends up with nothing.

While time and again God’s people turned a deaf ear to the prophets, this time Judah actually listened! The Southern Kingdom listened to Isaiah and did not join with Egypt in order to be delivered from the Assyrians. However, the Northern Kingdom of Israel ignored the prophet’s warning and the result: they were utterly destroyed as they were taken into captivity.

Shalmaneser king of Assyria came up to attack Hoshea, who had been Shalmaneser’s vassal and had paid him tribute. But the king of Assyria discovered that Hoshea was a traitor, for he had sent envoys to So king of Egypt, and he no longer paid tribute to the king of Assyria, as he had done year by year. Therefore Shalmaneser seized him and put him in prison. The king of Assyria invaded the entire land, marched against Samaria and laid siege to it for three years. In the ninth year of Hoshea, the king of Assyria captured Samaria and deported the Israelites to Assyria. He settled them in Halah, in Gozan on the Habor River and in the towns of the Medes. (2 Kings 17:3—7)

1. Like rebellious children, verses 1—3

This is the fourth “woe,” and it was an unmistakable warning. Essentially, this woe is simple: Don’t go to Egypt for help.

One thing is certain, a person never wants God to pronounce a “woe” against them! Generally speaking, when God pronounces a “woe” against a person, nation, or group of people, it’s already too late for them.

a. The nature of this “woe”

Woe to the obstinate children,” declares the LORD, “to those who carry out plans that are not mine, forming an alliance, but not by my Spirit, heaping sin upon sin; who go down to Egypt without consulting me; who look for help to Pharaoh’s protection, to Egypt’s shade for refuge.” (verses 1, 2)

The proposed alliance with Egypt occasioned this “woe.” The TNIV’s translation “obstinate” can also be translated “rebellious.” Either is correct, but “rebellious” might convey Judah’s attitude better. Judah’s rebellion against Assyria was also a rebellion against their God. A rebellious child of God never pleases anybody; not God, not the world, and never themselves. Sin never satisfies.

Judah’s idea of aligning themselves with Egypt was not only a rebellious action against God, it was a cruel, in-you-face manifestation of self-will. Judah, though, had a bad habit of manifesting self-will, since we are told this latest idea was one more sin, piled high on an already high pile of sin.

The Jews were not being led by God’s Spirit in this venture. This alliance was not His idea, therefore it was a bad idea. God was not angry just because the Jews strayed from His will, He was angry because His people were so spiritually dull they couldn’t see how harmful this alliance would really be.  This reminds us of James’ “double minded man.”  Here is a spiritually dull believer who can’t muster the faith to receive anything, including direction, from the Lord.

Those who doubt should not think they will receive anything from the Lord; they are double-minded and unstable in all they do. (James 1:7, 8)

It was dangerous to seek help from Egypt because at this point in history, they were far into their state of decline. Isaiah rightfully referred to the kind of protection Pharaoh could offers as merely “shade.” Indeed, his protection would have been an illusion.

Whatever any sin promises the one being tempted, it is in reality just an illusion. It is true that sin can make the sinner feel good; that’s why even good Christians struggle against it. But whatever good feelings sin provided, they are temporary. Sin never satisfies because it can never deliver what it promises. God is the Author of joy and happiness, peace and prosperity, not sin. Do you know why sin cannot satisfy any human being? The answer may surprise you:

…you were dead in your transgressions and sins… (Ephesians 2:1)

A corpse is incapable of any feelings whatsoever. Judah, on the verge of committing this dreadful sin, would get nothing in return for jumping in bed with Egypt, a corpse.

b. The result of this “woe”

But Pharaoh’s protection will be to your shame, Egypt’s shade will bring you disgrace. (verses 3—5, verse 3 cited)

In spite of Pharaoh’s friendly reception of Judah, their trust in his support would result only in disillusionment and disgrace. Just as Judah got themselves into deeper trouble by turning to others for help and rejecting the Word of god, so believers, when they seek anything from any source other than God find themselves in spiritual quicksand.

When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each of you is tempted when you are dragged away by your own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. (James 1:13—15)

The outcome for one involved in sin is never good. James gives us the “gestation of sin.” Sin and sinning have consequences: ultimately ending in death. One way or another, the sinner will die; he will die in his sins and he will die spiritually. But there is another law at work here. Jeremiah 17:5 is a frightening verse for anybody considering yielding to temptation and sinning:

This is what the LORD says: “Cursed are those who trust in mortals, who depend on flesh for their strength and whose hearts turn away from the LORD.”

God actively campaigns against those who willingly and knowingly turn from Him and get involved in things not His will. So sin carries with it natural consequences and supernatural consequences. Does sin make any sense? Of course not! But that doesn’t seem to deter many Christians from committing them.

c. Reaction to this “woe”

The people of Judah were so bent on going their own way according to their own plans, they wanted nothing to do with Isaiah and the Word of the Lord.

For these are rebellious people, deceitful children, children unwilling to listen to the LORD’s instruction. (verse 9)

It seems as though the more Isaiah preached the truth to his people, the more his people became filled with antagonism. The Word of God sometimes has this effect on people. We frequently hear about the “drawing power” of the Word, but sometimes for stubborn, obstinate, rebellious believers, who know full-well their sin, it has the opposite effect. It arouses feelings of anger and bitterness within, usually toward the one giving them the truth.

See no more visions!” and to the prophets, “Give us no more visions of what is right! Tell us pleasant things, prophesy illusions. Leave this way, get off this path, and stop confronting us with the Holy One of Israel!” (verses 10, 11)

In other words, “Either make us feel good with your preaching, or take your God and go!” Is it possible to fall so far from God that a Christian can adopt that attitude? One only has to watch the “sermons” that are broadcast on so-called Christian TV these days to realize how watered down the Gospel has become. Christians would rather feel good than feel God.

2. God’s ever-gracious response

In spite of Judah’s stubbornness, God never stopped longing for His people:

Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the LORD is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him! (verse 18)

Isaiah’s “therefore” and “because” of verse 12 begins a series of startling expressions of “the law of relationships.” Thousands of years later, the apostle Paul expressed Isaiah’s “law of relationships” this way:

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. People reap what they sow. Those who sow to please their sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; those who sow to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. (Galatians 6:7, 8)

The Jews were sowing the wind and were about to reap the whirlwind!

Historically, the alliance with Egypt never happened. This was one instance where God’s people heeded God’s Word. Judah, because of that obedience, was spared the destruction that was the fate of Israel.

(c)  2011 WitzEnd

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