I’m preaching through Isaiah at the moment and have been struck afresh by the failure of God’s people to trust him. Instead, as passages like Isaiah 2:6-22 show, they seek to make themselves great without God. They bring in superstitions from the east, and pagan divination like the Philistines. They boast in their treasuries and chariots and go the way of idolatry.
It may seem strange that God’s people, who had experienced so many blessings from him in the past, and who are promised so much for the future, could look elsewhere to find security. Yet this is what they do. They ignore God’s calls for justice and make alliances with the nations around. The prophet rebukes them with a reminder of their mortality: “Stop trusting in man, who has but a breath in his nostrils, Of what account is he?” (Isaiah 2:22).
Before we are too quick to condemn God’s people of old, it is worth meditating on how often we make precisely the same moves. There is a terrible temptation for churches to find their confidence and strength in things which the world around also values and find appealing. So we’ll boast in our architecture, our strategic plans, and our technology. Or we’ll find confidence in positive press, or the numbers who come along, or an impressive leader.
Yet the greatest threat we face is a false confidence in of our own strength and influence. In Isaiah God’s plans to save comes through exile and suffering and him bringing comfort to his afflicted people. It wasn’t in alliances with the great ones or working from wealth and riches. Instead he would humble any that exalt themselves so that he alone will be exalted.
We need to pray that God would save us from being great and mighty and humble us as people who depend on him for every breath.
Feature photo: blakeimeson