Discover His heart: He is the One we can count on
Isaiah 34 is the end of 34 chapters of judgment on the nations, including Judah and Israel, and the entire world. Whew! I’ve watched a few movies over the years that deliver one scene after another of bad luck, bad news and bad people. After a while, I just feel kind of beat up; and if I have any strength left, I pick up that remote and change the channel with the hope of something better. Some parts of Isaiah are a little hard to take as well
Thankfully, Chapter 35 brings a short reprieve with a message of hope and restoration for the future. “And a great road will go through that once deserted land. It will be named the Highway of Holiness.” (35:8) Not the low way, mind you, but the high way…the set apart way…the way of the redeemed…the way of Jesus. Nothing of eternal harm can snatch away those on this path because it’s His path. He is with us, leading us to His home, our eternal destination. Nothing gives me more peace in this day of airplanes blowing up buildings, school shootings and nuclear stockpiles than the knowledge that I am on His path. As long as I choose to stay there, I will reach my eternal destination with Him!
In Chapter 36, King Hezekiah made decisions that were contrary to what the prophet Isaiah had advised. The Assyrians, enemies from the area known as Iraq today, had conquered much of the world. In fear of this great enemy, Hezekiah decided to join forces with his ungodly neighbors in an alliance to fight this enemy and disregarded Isaiah’s message of God’s promise to deliver them if they would trust Him. I’ve found that fear is never a good adviser. Egypt’s mighty chariots seemed more tangible, more real to Hezekiah than God’s promise to him. Hezekiah was confused.
Assyrian King Sennacherib knew two things about Judah – they had been a God-fearing people and they had made an alliance with Egypt against him. He sent representatives to meet with representatives of Hezekiah. King Sennacherib was asking this question of Hezekiah, “Who are you counting on that you rebelled against me?” Hezekiah’s confused loyalties emboldened his enemy. This causes me to do a little self-examination. Who am I counting on today? Have confused loyalties allowed my enemy entrance into my life?
Sennacherib’s message renounced the Egyptians and Hezekiah, but more importantly, he blasphemed the living God. “What god of any nation has ever been able to save its people from my power? So what makes you think that the Lord can rescue Jerusalem from me?” (36:20) Not a good move on his part. Hezekiah’s men tore their clothes in despair and went home to report to the king, who also tore his clothes (37:1).
This is a custom I am not acquainted with – the tearing of the clothes. I know of yelling, pacing, sobbing, thrashing about, etc., but not the tearing of the clothes. In that day, however, it was a statement of humility and repentance – they would not allow their bodies to be clothed with ornament or finery when the enemy was attempting to strip the living God of His honor and deity. This was the signal that Hezekiah was no longer confused.
And Hezekiah prayed this prayer before the Lord: O Lord of Heaven’s Armies, God of Israel, you are enthroned between the mighty cherubim! You alone are God of all the kingdoms of the earth. You alone created the heavens and the earth. Bend down, O Lord, and listen! Now, O Lord our God, rescue us from his power; then all the kingdoms of the earth will know that you alone, O Lord, are God.” (16-18,20) Soon God brought great victory to Judah, as well as an amazing healing to Hezekiah (Chapter 38). Judah’s doom was suspended…for a while.
Moving forward: Today I symbolically tear my clothes at the thought that I would listen to any attempt by the enemy to strip my Father of His honor and deity. I will not be confused about the one I am counting on! “I am counting on the Lord; yes, I am counting on Him. I have put my hope in His word.” (Psalm 130:5)
Tomorrow @Matthew 17-19