Today you awoke and immediately, whether consciously or subconsciously, began to look for something in which to place your confidence. We get up each morning trusting in something for our sense of stability, meaningfulness and peace. We pick a particular harbor in which to drop anchor for a while. My guess is that most people awaken each day and subconsciously trust themselves. For others, they are on auto-pilot because they have the right person by their side in whom they have great confidence. Many are starting their day by looking to money to be their rock. Recently, I have encountered an increasing number of Jesus-followers who seem to be trusting in America’s President, expecting that he will be the long-awaited answer that our nation has needed. If you ask most thinking Christians what they believe in, where their true confidence rests, or where they anchor their hopes, they will quickly tell you that Jesus is their source of stability. That is, of course, the appropriate theological answer. We trust in God. He is our Father. His promises never fail. He commits to provide all we need when we walk with Him. Yes, the answer is that we trust in our great God.
Or do we?
“Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help, who rely on their horses, who trust in the multitude of their chariots and in the great strength of their horsemen, but do not look to the Holy One of Israel or seek help from the Lord.” – Isaiah 31:1
Here is the only authentic way to reveal and prove where we are placing our practical trust: take all of our horses, chariots and horsemen out of the picture and then gauge the status of our hearts. Israel was in covenant with God. He had more than proven Himself true to them. Yet, when trouble began to encroach upon them, when instability and danger began to move closer to their borders, they began to seek help from Egypt – their former place of bondage. When Isaiah writes of horses, chariots and horsemen, he is speaking of human resources. The meaning is that Israel was going to potentially disengage in their practical reliance upon God and begin instead to trust in temporary and purely human help. Egypt did not have God. Israel did. Is it not startling that those who have God (more precisely, He has them) could turn to something which is not sourced in God for safety, protection and stability? Before we point a rebuking finger at ancient Israel, perhaps we should consider ourselves.
- Instead of loving people, cherishing them and serving them, many enter into co-dependence with them. People become little gods in their lives.
- Instead of working hard to earn money to provide for personal necessities and then living with intentional Kingdom generosity toward mission and ministry, many work hard for their necessities and their luxuries, fail to be generous in the Kingdom, and then squander what God has blessed them with by buying things that bring temporary pleasure at the expense of storing up treasure in Heaven. They simply don’t believe that Jesus was being truthful when He taught that principle.
- Instead of working diligently on their soul to become more and more dependent on God, many work diligently on crafting an exterior life of stability and insulation from trouble which actually serves to make them less dependent on God.
- Instead of rejoicing in, worshiping and serving a holy King who occupies an eternal throne, they rejoice in, laud and defend a human leader who sits in an office.
I could likely list a dozen more examples, but you understand what I am saying. Israel trusted in those ancient emblems of human help and I am convinced that many Christians today do the exact same. What is noteworthy is that Israel was leaning upon Egypt while, at the same time, still believing and declaring that they were the people of Yahweh. That is why God had to move upon Isaiah to break into their world of hybrid-trust and say to them that they would eventually find woe if they continued to lean upon Egypt. God viewed their partial trust in lesser things as a complete rejection of Himself. They had forgotten that He was a jealous God (Exodus 34:14) and does not share His glory with another (Isaiah 42:8). We also have a call as the followers of Christ to intentionally format our own lives so that they become less and less dependent on the insulation that 21stCentury American life offers us. No generation of Christians has ever been so exposed to the danger of trusting in lesser things than Christians in America for the last century. While our brothers and sisters know what it is like to live under the shadow of death for being a Christian in a persecutory culture, we are blessed here to worship and serve God with zero current threats against us. Committed disciples of the King in other nations literally live hand to mouth and find that their joy, peace and faith eclipses those of us who have never been concerned over our daily bread. Right now, in Nigeria, there is a president who is seemingly covering for the intentional slaughter of thousands of Christians by demonized Islamic murderers who are killing, raping and decapitating the followers of Jesus Christ. Back here in the United States we comparitively appear to be quite bratty when we fall apart because we didn’t have/don’t have a President who represents our values. Who told you to expect anything that makes sense in the Kingdom from a politician? We are commanded by God to submit to and pray for those in office. We are commanded also to NEVER look to them as some significant source of hope. God reserves that position for Himself.
Could it be that the confessions of our lips about God being our true anchor is a little more robust than any evidence to support it? I am not saying that we have no trust in God. I am saying that MANY have a subconscious hybrid-faith in God. God is in the mix for sure. But the Almighty is crowded in that place of trust because of all the other stuff we are storing in there. He expects us to renounce our personal Egypts and intentionally go all-in after Him. I fear that there are some days here and there when I have one foot in the Kingdom while the other foot is somewhere near the Great Pyramids. Maybe you should share my concern.
Father, help us to an honest inventory of our hearts today. Help us learn whether or not we have a hidden confidence in Egypt that we have allowed to occupy a heart that Jesus died to fully own. Forgive us for our obsession with financial insulation from trouble. Forgive us for speaking so loudly of our politics that half the people we encounter have no interest in what we might say about our Savior. Forgive our poutiness over temporary things that are here today and gone tomorrow. Give us what our brothers and sisters have in Nigeria: an absolute dependence on You that is so full that nothing of Egypt can fit in. Let us be grateful for all of the blessing that you give, but Lord may we also become givers – joyful, sacrificial and eager. You continue to humble the willing. My belief, Father, is that You will also humble the unwilling. Help us to be in that first group so that, when Your Son returns, we will recognize Him as the only One who held our trust. Amen.