Monthly Archives: May 2023

God earnestly waits – Part Three

Prodigal Son Parable - A Prodigal Parable, Part 2: The Runaway - Christ ...Review: In Part One, we briefly examined the context of Isaiah 30 and summarized the main points. In Part Two, covering Isaiah 30:1-9, we discussed the subtle ways the enemy of our souls deceives us into devoting our hearts to idols, rather than the One True God, the Maker of heaven and earth. In Part Three, we will examine verses 10-17, which explain one reason why God sometimes must wait to help us.

And therefore the Lord [earnestly] waits [expecting, looking, and longing] to be gracious to you; and therefore He lifts Himself up, that He may have mercy on you and show loving-kindness to you. For the Lord is a God of justice.

Blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied) are all those who [earnestly] wait for Him, who expect and look and long for Him [for His victory, His favor, His love, His peace, His joy, and His matchless, unbroken companionship]! (Isaiah 30:18, AMPC)

Idol worship is subtle. In verses 1 through 9 we learned, through seeing what God said about Israel’s actions, that when we do not trust God and instead trust something or someone else and take action based on trusting that thing or that person, we are guilty of idol worship. This is rebellion against God because we are not hearing—which is to say, not doing—the things He says we are to do. One thing He says do is

trust Him and obey Him and
depend on Him to provide and deliver.

You may think: “I am not rebelling against God in anything. I am doing what I should do.” I hope that is true. However, it is valuable to remember that we all rebel in many ways. We rebel when:Blue Shiny Confetti Background Loop Stock Footage Video 3002290 ...

  • We do something He says do not do, like when we show favoritism by avoiding the  hard-to-love people God puts in our path. See James 2.
  • We fail to do something He says to do, like when we neglect prayer and Bible study. God says to “Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” (Deuteronomy 6:5, NIV). What would your spouse or friends think if you did not speak with them for a day or week even though they were with you all that time? Or what if you did not read the letters they wrote while away for three months?

Our conduct shows in whom, or what, we trust. This thing about who we trust is as subtle as a razor is sharp. It is potentially dangerous spiritually. The enemy is always seeking ways to steal our love and obedience to God, so we need to ask God to search our hearts (Psalm 139:23-24). We also need to examine ourselves regularly (2 Corinthians 13:5). One way to do that is to consider what we are doing. We reveal who we trust by our conduct, by what we do, just like Israel in Isaiah 30. When Israel purchased help from Egypt, they showed they refused to trust God and wait for Him.

How might idol worship look today?

  • If I spend my entire paycheck on bills instead of paying my tithes and offerings first, I am trusting my money. I am rebelling against God by refusing to trust Him to take care of me.
  • If I fill each hour of every day with noise or other people and avoid time alone with God, so that I can give Him my total attention, I am not trusting God to be my companion.
  • If I say there is not enough time for daily devotions, I am failing to trust that God is sovereign over time. I am trusting in myself and I am, by my actions, saying that whatever I did that day is more important to me than God.
  • If I say I just cannot understand when I study the Bible for myself so I’ll listen to others teach and preach, I am disobeying God’s command to study His Word. I am failing to trust that God Himself can teach me. I am also accusing Him of being unfair because my actions say I believe He has told me to do something that is beyond my abilities.

Serious Man Stopping Ears With Fingers | Photo GratuiteIsaiah 30:10-11.  Now consider verses 10 through 11.

Who [virtually] say to the seers [by their conduct], See not! and to the prophets, Prophesy not to us what is right! Speak to us smooth things, prophesy deceitful illusions.  Get out of the true way, turn aside out of the path, cease holding up before us the Holy One of Israel. (emphasis added)

God says very clearly that Israel rejected him by the things they did, by depending on Egypt for help. Their actions were saying they did not want to hear about the Holy One of Israel and His ways, one of which is for His people to trust Him to be their Shield and Defender (Deuteronomy 31:6, Psalm 18:2, Psalm 91, Psalm 34:7 and on and on.)

Isaiah 30:12-14. In the next three verses, God explains why disaster will overtake them.

12 Therefore thus says the Holy One of Israel: Because you despise and spurn this [My] word and trust in cunning and oppression, in crookedness and perverseness, and rely on them,

13 Therefore this iniquity and guilt will be to you like a broken section of a high wall, bulging out and ready [at some distant day] to fall, whose crash will [then] come suddenly and swiftly, in an instant.

14 And he shall break it as a potter’s vessel is broken, breaking it in pieces without sparing so that there cannot be found among its pieces one large enough to carry coals of fire from the hearth or to dip water out of the cistern. (emphasis added)

In Verse 12 God just does not say “Therefore”, which means for the reasons that came before, He also restates the reasons. He says to Israel . . . because you despised and spurned My Word and showed by your actions that you trusted your own perverse way of depending on Egypt to save you. . .

Then God says “therefore” again. That makes three times God is emphasizing to Israel that disaster is coming because of their actions. God “does not willingly and from His heart afflict or grieve the children of men.: (Lamentations 3:33, AMPC).  God is compassionate, full of loving kindness and tender mercy. But God is also just and fair. That means our actions must have consequences.

Durham Centre for Roman Cultural Studies : Collapsed wall - Durham ...God tells Israel that their sin and guilt will be to them like a bulging wall that will suddenly collapse. The collapse will be shattering, leaving not one useful thing left.

Isaiah 30:15-17:

15 For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel: In returning [to Me] and resting [in Me] you shall be saved; in quietness and in [trusting] confidence shall be your strength. But you would not,” (emphasis added)

In verse 15, God again emphasizes to Israel that it is their sin of refusal to follow His instructions which will bring calamity upon them. God links verses 1 through 14 with verse 15 with that word “For.” God says that verses 1 through 14 will happen because (or for) I told you that you would be saved when you return and rest in me. I told you that you would find strength when you were quiet and had trusting confidence in me. But you would not obey Me!

Verses 16 and 17 continue God’s explanation to Israel about why they will fall into calamity.

16 And you said, No! We will speed [our own course] on horses! Therefore you will speed [in flight from your enemies]! You said, We will ride upon swift steeds [doing our own way]! Therefore will they who pursue you be swift, [so swift that]

17 One thousand of you will flee at the threat of one of them; at the threat of five you will flee till you are left like a beacon or a flagpole on the top of a mountain, and like a signal on a hill. (emphasis added)

God says “And”, meaning not only did you refuse to trust in Me but you said you would swiftly escape from your enemy by doing things your own way. So because of that, your enemies will be swift, so swift that they will terrorize you and make you flee in utter panic until you are left totally helpless.

stack of books – The Science of Early LearningRebellion—idol worship–takes many forms. As we walk with God, He requires more of us and rebellion, which is to say idol worship, becomes harder to detect. It is easy to let our desires—which we can inaccurately perceive as needs—deceive us into putting something before God.

A personal example: Over the years I’ve walked with God He has cleansed me of many sinful habits and attitudes and replaced them with godly behaviors and attitudes. The last few years, in an effort to avoid eye strain, I often listen to rather than read the Bible and other books. Recently, I discovered an author I liked who was an excellent writer. Listening to him was not only pleasurable but, as a writer, it was instructive. I listened to one book and was delighted to see he had written ten others and was still writing. There was a bit of profanity but not much. However, in the next book he introduced a character with consistently profane language.

I confess that for a while, I kept listening, in spite of doubts, because I was subconsciously reasoning that I needed to hear good examples of writing. I knew Romans 14:23 specifically teaches that if we do something we have doubts about, we are sinning. Yet, I kept listening, ignoring that little guilty feeling inside. Thanks be to God that did not last long, I repented, with many tears.

For about a week, I found no audio books that I enjoyed and that were clean. Why? In the last ten years I had foraged in my library’s audio book catalog and found that most were uninteresting to me, poorly written, or else had profanity and sex scenes or witchcraft or something else that set off alarm bells. So, after deleting that novel with the vile language, I started on some of the books I had already heard four or five times. Then, one evening, quite by accident (ha!) I discovered two new authors and one I had forgotten about who were better writers than the one I had given up.

Everything I have ever given up for the purpose of honoring God has been replaced with something far, far better. Every time, for over forty years. Oh, how good God is!

In Part Four we will examine verse 18, which vividly describes what God is earnestly doing as He watches us and waits for us to return to Him.

Viewpoint: Repent and Return to Christ - Church News and EventsAnd therefore the Lord [earnestly] waits [expecting, looking, and longing] to be gracious to you; and therefore He lifts Himself up, that He may have mercy on you and show loving-kindness to you. For the Lord is a God of justice.

Blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied) are all those who [earnestly] wait for Him, who expect and look and long for Him [for His victory, His favor, His love, His peace, His joy, and His matchless, unbroken companionship]! (Isaiah 30:18, AMPC)




God earnestly waits – Part Two

Image result for Public Domain Picture of Idol

In Part One, we briefly examined the context and main points of Isaiah 30. In Part Two, which covers Isaiah 30:1-9, we will unveil one of the subtle ways the enemy of our souls deceives us into devoting our hearts to idols, rather than the One True God, the Maker of heaven and earth.

Depending on the world, rather than on God. The first half of Isaiah 30 (verses1-17) show us how Israel, when threatened by their bitterest enemy the Assyrians, rebelled against God by taking the treasures of the Temple to purchase help from Egypt, with disastrous results. Verse 18 tells us that all throughout Israel’s dependence on Egypt, God was earnestly, eagerly waiting to shower His love and mercy on them. The second half of Isaiah 30 (verses 19 through 33) show how powerfully God promises to fight for them when they turn away from Egypt and put Him first, which is to say when they stop worshiping Egypt. How had Israel had made Egypt into an idol?

What is an idol? An idol is an object (such as a statue) that represents pagan gods and is worshipped. A person who is deeply loved can also be an idol. So can things, like money, power, and prestige. Carefully consider how Webster’s 1828 online dictionary defines an idol:

“1) An image, form or representation, usually of a man or other animal, consecrated as an object of worship; a pagan deity. Idols are usually statues or images, carved out of wood or stone, or formed of metals, particularly silver or gold.

(2) An image.

(3) A person loved and honored to adoration.

(4) Anything on which we set our affections; that to which we indulge an excessive and sinful attachment.”

Free Dictionary Cliparts, Download Free Dictionary Cliparts png images ...Webster’s then quotes “Little children, keep yourselves from idols (1 John 5:1)” and further states “An idol is anything which usurps the place of God in the hearts of his rational creatures.” (Can you see why this is an excellent dictionary to use for your Bible study?)

I have never been tempted to worship a physical object and, since salvation, I always tried to put God first in my affections. However, for a season I depended on worldly methods as the primary way to handle depression. That was idol worship. Look again at that last comment from Noah Webster:

An idol is anything which usurps the place of God in the hearts of His rational creatures.”

In Isaiah 30, the Israelites chose to let Egypt usurp the rightful place of God as their defender and provider. They thus engaged in idol worship

What is idol worship?  The first thing we think of when we say worship is the love we show for God when we, as a group or individually, sing songs to God, praise and thank Him and speak of His goodness. We also worship God by how we live our life, by what we do with our our time, energy and affections.

Merriam-Websters dictionary defines worship as “to regard with great or extravagant respect, honor, or devotion.” I can be devoted to many things at the same time—God, family, work, horses, good health, friends—but if any of those other things come before God, I make them an idol. If I love anything or anyone more than God or if I count on anything or anyone to meet my needs more than I count on God, I make that person or thing an idol.

The following two paragraphs from make it clear.

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“An idol can be anything we place ahead of God in our lives, anything that takes God’s place in our hearts, such as possessions, careers, relationships, hobbies, sports, entertainment, goals, greed, addictions to  alcohol/drugs/gambling/pornography, etc. Some of the things we idolize are clearly sinful. But many . . . can be very good, such as relationships or careers. Yet Scripture tells us that, whatever we do, we are to “do it all for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31) and that we are to serve God only (Deuteronomy 6:13Luke 16:13). “

The article explains that when we pursue such idols, they usurp God’s rightful place in our lives and leave little time to spend with God.  Further, to cope with the hardships of life we sometimes turn to addictive behaviors like drugs or alcohol. And

“. . . even something like excessive reading or television viewing, may be used as a means of temporarily “escaping” a difficult situation or the rigors of daily life.  

As the article goes on to point out, when we place trust in such behaviors, we are making them idols. Then we become, like idols, spiritually useless.  Psalm 115 says that those who make idols become like them – blind, deaf, dumb, useless.

“We need to place our trust in the Lord “who will keep [us] from all harm” (Psalm 121:7) and who has promised to supply all of our needs when we trust in Him. We also need to remember the words of Paul, who teaches us not to be anxious about anything, but rather to pray about everything so the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, can guard our hearts and our minds (Philippians 4:6–7).”

Isaiah 30:1-2. Let’s look at the warning God gives to Israel about depending on Egypt for help rather than on Him when the Assyrian army attacked Israel.

What was the Ancient Egyptian Army Like? - A guide for KS2Woe to the rebellious children, says the Lord, who take counsel and carry out a plan, but not Mine, and who make a league and pour out a drink offering, but not of My Spirit, thus adding sin to sin; Who set out to go down into Egypt, and have not asked Me—to flee to the stronghold of Pharaoh and to strengthen themselves in his strength and to trust in the shadow of Egypt!

God says that trouble (woe) is coming to His children who have rebelled against Him by seeking advice and making agreements contrary to what He has told them to do.

Isaiah 30:3-7. God has told them countless times–and demonstrated to them countless times—that He is and will always be their Helper, Defender and Protector. He has taught and demonstrated to them that He is sovereign over all that is. Yet, they refused to trust Him and instead have sent to Egypt for help. It is a vile thing to God when we have “unworthy and unwarranted” suspicions regarding His faithfulness (Jeremiah 15:19).  Vile means disgustingly depraved or filthy. If God says even our best efforts to be righteous are like “filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6), how much more filthy and disgusting is it when we do not even try to do what is right and trust Him to be Who He says He is?

Therefore shall the strength and protection of Pharaoh turn to your shame, and the refuge in the shadow of Egypt be to your humiliation and confusion. For though [Pharaoh’s] officials are at Zoan and his ambassadors arrive at Hanes [in Egypt], Yet will all be ashamed because of a people [the Egyptians] who cannot profit them, who are not a help or benefit, but a shame and disgrace.

Depending on idols leads to great harm. God next says that because of their actions in verses 1 and 2, the thing they chose to depend on (the strength and protection of the world) will cause them shame, humiliation and confusion.  They will become aware of how wrong and foolish their behavior was, they will be embarrassed, and they will be confused. The reason is that, even though Egypt and Pharoah (the world) seem to be powerful and everyone pays homage to them, they are of no help and only cause loss of respect and honor.

A mournful, inspired prediction (a burden to be lifted up) concerning the beasts of the South (the Negeb): Oh, the heavy burden, the load of treasures going to Egypt! Through a land of trouble and anguish, in which are lioness and lion, viper and fiery flying serpent, they carry their riches upon the shoulders of young donkeys, and their treasures upon the humps of camels, to a people that will not and cannot profit them.

For Egypt’s help is worthless and toward no purpose. Therefore I have called her Rahab Who Sits Still.

The Camel Caravans Of Rthe Ancient - The metropolitan museum of art is ...Wicked King Ahaz, as other kings had done, took the treasures of the Temple and the palace, loaded them on camels and donkeys and sent them across the desert to buy help from Egypt. The Enduring Word commentary observes that Isaiah felt sorry for the beasts of burden because they were carrying such heavy loads of treasures across the fiercely hot and dangerous dessert and it was all for nothing – because the help of Egypt was worthless and would do no good.

 We weaken ourselves when we depend on idols. The Matthew Henry Commentary notes that those who “trust in God, in His power, providence and promise are never made ashamed of their hope” but those that put their confidence. . . “ in anything or anyone else will be disappointed sooner or later. Our “strength is to sit still, in a humble dependence upon God and His goodness and a quiet submission to His will. . . “ rather than seeking help elsewhere. If we stay calm in troubling times, quietly waiting for God’s help and using only “lawful regular methods”, this will strengthen our soul and “engage divine strength for us.”

Matthew Henry says “We weaken ourselves, and provoke God to withdraw from us, when we make flesh our arm, for then our hearts depart from the Lord.” When we tire of seeking help elsewhere, we will find rest when we finally say to our Creator “Here I am. Do with me as You please.”

Isaiah 30:8-9

Now, go, write it before them on a tablet and inscribe it in a book, that it may be as a witness for the time to come forevermore.

For this is a rebellious people, faithless and lying sons, children who will not hear the law and instruction of the Lord;

God commanded that His prophecy be written down. When the events He predicted happened, it would be evidence of His omniscience and omnipotence, for people living in those times and for you and me today.

God said that Israel was rebellious because they would not hear His instructions, which means to take His instructions to heart and follow them. God had demonstrated His omnipotence and faithfulness and instructed Israel to depend on and trust in Him. Yet they ignored Him and decided to depend on Egypt, rather than Him, for help against their enemies. This was rebellion against God.

What might that look like today? It is impossible to remind ourselves too often of the fact that the enemy is extremely crafty and deceitful and a liar. Consider the following instances.

  • A long-time Christian tells a new believer, an impoverished single mom of three, that she does not have to tithe, that God will understand her situation.
  • An intense young man finds that running excessive distances calms him down. Soon, to get in more miles, he abandons his daily time with God, church attendance and Christian friends.
  • A believer, finding that visiting family diminishes the negative feelings of depression, spends every spare moment with family, and begins neglecting spiritual things.

Prayer: Dear Father, open my eyes to see any snares the enemy may have laid in my path. Deal with any pride or defensiveness that blinds me to my faults. Forgive me for the times I trust in things and people more than in You. Grant me the courage to wait on You, with complete trust and confidence, in the hard times of life. Help me remember what You said in Hebrews 13:5:

” I will not in any way fail you nor give you up nor leave you without support. [I will] not,  [I will] not, [I will] not in any degree leave you helpless nor forsake nor let [you] down (relax My hold on you)! [Assuredly not!] (AMPC)

Help me be comforted and say with boldness “The Lord is my Helper; I will not be seized with alarm [I will not fear or dread or be terrified]. What can man do to me?” (Hebrews 13:6, AMPC) Amen!