Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help, and rely on horses, who trust in chariots because they are many, and in horsemen because they are very strong, but who do not look to the Holy One of Israel, nor seek the Lord! – Isaiah 31:1
Have you ever come to the end of yourself? Have you ever been surrounded by an insurmountable enemy? Have you ever come to find that all your best efforts, just weren’t good enough? Have you ever been at a loss for words? Have you ever been without an answer? Have your solutions turned into desolations? I think every person, at some point in their life, gets to the end of themselves. (If not, just wait, you’ll get there.) At some point in life, you question and ask “Why?” It may be a point of confusion, exhaustion, despair. Well, I’d like to encourage you that when you get to such a point, all is not lost. When you get to such a point you can discover a very important purpose. When all else fails, look up, turn heavenward. When all else fails, seek the Lord. He is real. And He is the solution to whatever it is you’re going through. That’s a truth worth finding out. That’s a truth worth living out. That’s a truth worth shouting about!
The Book of Isaiah is referred to as “The Fifth Gospel.” The word “gospel” means good news. Good news is best seen as good news in contrast to bad news. The prophet Isaiah served the Lord eight centuries before the birth fo Jesus. He was called by God to be a mouthpiece to a people who had drifted away from God. When a nation drifts from God, it leads to darkness. The Lord assessed Israel by saying, “Alas, sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a brood of evildoers, children who are corrupters! They have forsaken the LORD, they have provoked to anger the Holy One of Israel, they have turned away backward” (Isaiah 1:4).
Isaiah shares a glimmer of hope when he comments, “Unless the LORD of hosts had left to us a very small remnant, we would have become like Sodom, we would have been made like Gomorrah” (Isaiah 1:9). The danger was that if Israel had continued the way she was going, she would have met with the same judgment as Sodom and Gomorrah. These sister-in-sin cities are the poster children for immorality and the fire-and-brimstone judgment of God (cf. Genesis 18-19). The glimmer of hope Isaiah spoke of was a “very small remnant” of faithful followers of the LORD. When we look historically at times of societal decline, God is always faithful to provide a faithful remnant, a sometimes very small group of those who remain faithful to Him.
If you feel as though you’re in the minority, that you belong to a “very small remnant” of those who remain faithful to God and His word, don’t fret, you are serving a very valuable purpose. Through your faithful witness and prayers, through the holy life you live in the Spirit despite the accusations and criticisms of the majority, God is providing hope of redemption for the lost.
Until His judgment comes, God is always extending a hand of reconciliation to those who have declined His holy ways. To those who have wandered away from Him, to those who have deliberately turned against Him, He extends a hand of opportunity. He does this by saying, “’Come now, and let us reason together,’ says the LORD, ‘Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; through they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool. If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land; but if you refuse and rebel, you shall be devoured by the sword’; for the mouth of the LORD has spoken” (Isaiah 1:18-20). This is the theme throughout the book of Isaiah. The Holy One of Israel calls us to reason or to think about our plight in life. He invites us to come out of the darkness and to return to Him. What do you say to that?
The historical setting for much of the book of Isaiah was the impending invasion of the terrible Assyrian army. During Isaiah’s day, the Assyrians were the ruling world power. They were a warrior society. Conquering was a way of life for them. They were a vicious force. They ruled by intimidation. They discouraged resistance by cutting off the heads of the men of the conquered city and piling them in a pyramid outside the main city gate. They were the Isis of Isaiah’s day.
Well, the Assyrians had conquered the Northern kingdom of Israel and they were headed Jerusalem way. Much of the southern kingdom of Judah had been overwhelmed by the vicious army. The people were terrified. What could they do to protect themselves? What do we do when faced with desolation?
There are two chapters in the book of Isaiah that show us what not to do, and what we should do. In Isaiah 31 to 32 we see God’s instruction through the prophet. In these inspired words are principles for us to live by when we face danger or some kind of demise.
The Foolishness of Not First Trusting God. No matter what situation we are in we should always go first to God for direction in how to proceed. This is the message God gives His people through Isaiah when He says:
Isaiah 31:1 – Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help, and rely on horses, who trust in chariots because they are many, and in horsemen because they are very strong, but who do not look to the Holy One of Israel, nor seek the Lord!
Egypt in scripture is a type or symbol of the world. When God indicts His people for turning to Egypt, He is telling them that there was and is a better way. Our choices aren’t always merely between darkness and light, right and wrong, sin and salvation. Many times, our choices are between what’s good versus what is best. We should always choose God’s best.
In the first two verse of Isaiah 30 it states, “Woe to the rebellious children,” says the Lord, “Who take counsel, but not of Me, and who devise plans, but not of My Spirit, that they may add sin to sin; 2 Who walk to go down to Egypt, And have not asked My advice, To strengthen themselves in the strength of Pharaoh, And to trust in the shadow of Egypt!” (Isaiah 30:1-2). You see, it isn’t necessarily sinful to use secular resources. Joseph the step father of Jesus was instructed to go down to Egypt to protect Jesus from Herod (cf. Matthew 2:13-15). But Joseph went down to Egypt, after an angel of the Lord provided instruction from the LORD to do so.
The LORD will direct us to make use of secular resources. There are times, many times, when God instructs us, “Go to the doctor.” He does that through common sense. It’s not necessarily unspiritual to use a doctor when we’re sick or some other secular resource for whatever ails us. It is the LORD who gives the doctor their brain and ability to bring healing to a body. It is the LORD who provides every person whatever talent or ability they have. Like Paul, no matter what ability we have, we should say, “But by the grace of God I am what I am” (1 Corinthians 15:10). The problem is that people do not always recognize or acknowledge that truth.
The issue here is not that they sought help from Egypt, it is that they did so, “and have not asked My advice”! God can and does use secular means to fulfill His plans. But before we act in any way, by any means, we should always seek His counsel first! When we don’t seek God’s counsel or advice and rely on secular means, it likely will in some way lead to “shame,” and “humiliation.”
Why should we always seek the LORD and not merely go to secular help on impulse? Isaiah 31 continues,
Isaiah 31:2-3 – 2Yet He also is wise and will bring disaster, and will not call back His words, but will arise against the house of evildoers, and against the help of those who work iniquity. 3Now the Egyptians are men, and not God; And their horses are flesh, and not spirit. When the Lord stretches out His hand, both he who helps will fall, and he who is helped will fall down; They all will perish together.
“Now the Egyptians are men, and not God.” That’s all you really have to see in these opening lines. It’s foolish to turn from God to other things. With God nothing is impossible. With human beings, there’s always a limit, always something that is impossible. God may use secular instruments to fulfill His plans. He did that even with the Assyrians. He did it with the Babylonians and Medo Persians. He would do it with the Greeks and the Romans. God is in control. Even the strongest world powers come to an end. Even the greatest and most advanced secular resources will at times prove limited. There is a time when even the doctor will say, “I’m sorry, we’ve done all we can do for your loved one. It’s in God’s hands.” That’s why its always best to seek the LORD first, and follow His plans. Sometimes His plan will use secular resources. Sometimes it will not.
Look to “the LORD of hosts” to Deliver. The Lion of the Tribe of Judah, the LORD, He is afraid of nothing!
Isaiah 31:4-7 – 4 For thus the Lord has spoken to me: “As a lion roars, and a young lion over his prey (When a multitude of shepherds is summoned against him, He will not be afraid of their voice nor be disturbed by their noise), so the Lord of hosts will come down to fight for Mount Zion and for its hill. 5 Like birds flying about, so will the Lord of hosts defend Jerusalem. Defending, He will also deliver it; Passing over, He will preserve it.” 6 Return to Him against whom the children of Israel have deeply revolted. 7 For in that day every man shall throw away his idols of silver and his idols of gold—sin, which your own hands have made for yourselves.
God calls His people to throw away their idols and rely on Him for deliverance. No One else can protect them from what’s coming. When the enemy comes against us, the LORD who is a Lion is the first One we should turn to.
The historical account of the attack of Assyrians against Jerusalem is found in 2 Kings 18-19. There and in Isaiah 36-37 we are given the facts about the incredible deliverance of God’s people by the LORD. That deliverance was preceded by King Hezekiah action of breaking down the idols in the land. When he did that, God was faithful to protect the king and the people (cf. 2 Kings 18). What idols are you relying on? What needs to be torn down in your life so that God can act?
Through Isaiah the LORD gives a prophetic word of promise regarding this seemingly irresistible force of the Assyrians:
Isaiah 31:8-9 – “Then Assyria shall fall by a sword not of man, and a sword not of mankind shall devour him. But he shall flee from the sword, and his young men shall become forced labor. 9He shall cross over to his stronghold for fear, and his princes shall be afraid of the banner,” says the Lord, Whose fire is in Zion and whose furnace is in Jerusalem.
“Then Assyria shall fall by a sword not of man.” This is exactly what happened in 2 Kings 19. The LORD sent His Angel and in the night one hundred and eighty-five thousand Assyrian soldiers were killed in their camp. That’s 185,000! No worldly army can stand against the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, our LORD!
Hope from the Promise of the King of Righteousness. Isaiah is now moved by God to provide hope in the prophetic promise of a king who would reign in righteousness. Prophecy is not merely God’s way to forewarn us or give us interesting tidbits about what the future holds. Prophecy is God’s way to provide us with hope. In the New Testament Paul was inspired to write the church in Rome saying, “For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope” (Romans 15:4). The prophetic words of Isaiah were provided to give God’s people hope.
Isaiah 32:1 – Behold, a king will reign in righteousness, and princes will rule with justice.
Yes, a terrible army of the Assyrians was on the horizon. But God has a way of speaking prophetically to instill hope and to encourage His people. That’s what He does here. God promised prophetically that a king of righteousness was in the future for His people.
Isaiah 32:2 – A man will be as a hiding place from the wind, and a cover from the tempest, as rivers of water in a dry place, as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land.
This is a beautiful picture ultimately fulfilled in Jesus. He’s our hiding place. He’s our covering. He’s our source of water in a dry land. He’s our shade in the blistering heat of trials. When all else fails, run to Jesus.
Isaiah 32:3-8 – The eyes of those who see will not be dim, And the ears of those who hear will listen. 4Also the heart of the rash will understand knowledge, And the tongue of the stammerers will be ready to speak plainly. 5The foolish person will no longer be called generous, Nor the miser said to be bountiful; 6For the foolish person will speak foolishness, and his heart will work iniquity: To practice ungodliness, to utter error against the Lord, to keep the hungry unsatisfied, and he will cause the drink of the thirsty to fail. 7 Also the schemes of the schemer are evil; He devises wicked plans to destroy the poor with lying words, even when the needy speaks justice. 8But a generous man devises generous things, and by generosity he shall stand.
The sins of the people will be swallowed up by the king of righteousness who was to come. This is ultimately fulfilled in Jesus. The selfishness and greed of the sinner will be swallowed up by the generosity that comes through Jesus. Jesus will come with healing and righteousness and will right all these aforementioned wrongs on sinful humanity. Jesus said you have to lose your life to find it (Matthew 10:39).
The Consequences of Complacency. God’s people hand grown complacent. That is why the first thing they did when faced with the impending invasion of the Assyrians, was to look to Egypt, or look to the world for help. They had lost all consistency in their walk with the LORD. They had allowed themselves to drift. They had become complacent toward the LORD. Therefore, when the Assyrians problem appeared on the horizon of their lives, they weren’t ready; they panicked.
The LORD will do that, He will allow or even send a problem to shake the complacent out of their complacency. Got a problem? Maybe it’s a problem the LORD has allowed to shake you up in order to wake you out of your complacency. There is a consequence for complacency.
Isaiah 32:9-11 – Rise up, you women who are at ease, hear my voice; You complacent daughters, Give ear to my speech. 10In a year and some days You will be troubled, you complacent women; For the vintage will fail, the gathering will not come. 11 Tremble, you women who are at ease; Be troubled, you complacent ones; Strip yourselves, make yourselves bare, And gird sackcloth on your waists.
Those who would normally be praying on behalf of Judah were at ease rather than on their knees. Through Isaiah the LORD singles out the ladies of their society. When a societies’ women become complacent about the state of affairs in society rather than putting on sackcloth and ashes and praying to the LORD, that society is in dire trouble. Men may go to battle in the flesh. Women can go to battle on their knees. We need those who war on the floor.
If you’re ministry is that of praying for the nation, don’t lose heart, don’t give up, don’t be distracted by the temptation of ease. We need prayer warriors. We need our War Rooms to be filled and birthing out answers to prayers for our nation. Without prayers, without seeking the LORD, Judah had no hope, and we have no hope. Pray for those in authority (1 Timothy 2:1-7). Pray for the lost. Pray for our nation!
There is a consequence for complacency. When we are prayerless and complacent, there will be sorrow:
Isaiah 32:1-14 – People shall mourn upon their breasts for the pleasant fields, for the fruitful vine. 13On the land of my people will come up thorns and briers, Yes, on all the happy homes in the joyous city; 14 Because the palaces will be forsaken, the bustling city will be deserted. The forts and towers will become lairs forever, A joy of wild donkeys, a pasture of flocks—
When we are prayerlessly complacent, nothing goes right. There will be no fruitfulness. There will be only “thorns and briers,” things that cause pain and discomfort. Without prayer, our homes will be joyless, our cities will be dead rather than bustling with business. Without prayer, complacency results in vulnerability; our defenses will be run down.
When all Else Fails, Pray for Revival. There is a “Great Awakening” on the horizon of our nation. Our nation is being used to open the eyes of the world to the threat of globalism and governmental control. That is a great danger. It is from a global government that Antichrist will arise to consolidate his control in the End Times. People are awakening to this danger. Not all are aware of the prophetic significance of it. But they see the restrictions and oppression which comes historically through socialism and communism. Government is not the answer.
You may find fault with President Trump, he is not perfect. But I give him credit for saying, “Faith is more powerful than government – and NOTHING is more powerful than God.” I can support a president that says that. I can support a president who says, “As long as we have God, we are never, ever alone. Whether it’s the soldier on the night watch, or the single parent on the night shift, God will always give us solace and strength, and comfort.” Our president is on record as saying government is not God. And it isn’t!
Many are being swept up in the current of the “Great Awakening” that is rising throughout the Land. That is not an altogether bad thing. There are a lot of good things associated with this Great Awakening. But this mostly political Great Awakening will only take us so far. No matter successful this Awakening turns out to be, a time will come when we will sit down and ponder our political victories and think “Is this it? Is this as far as we go?” Politics and government are not God. Political progress is limited. That’s why we need to take our ambitions to another level.
Pray for Revival! We need to raise our eyes above the White House, above the Supreme Court, above Congress, and above the Senate. We need to look heavenward. We need a revival! That was the message in Isaiah’s day. That is the message today. That is the message for all people, every day.
Isaiah 32:15 – Until the Spirit is poured upon us from on high, And the wilderness becomes a fruitful field, And the fruitful field is counted as a forest.
Ladies (and men) we need to cast aside complacency and call out to the LORD “until the Spirit is poured upon us from on high,” or until revival from heaven comes! We are a nation that is divided. The enemy has succeeded in dividing us. Many are deceived by a media that propagates lies and presents the news of the day from their progressive perspective. The media has forgotten that their job is to report events objectively and truthfully and allow their audience to draw their own conclusions. Generations of our youth have been subjected to indoctrination rather than education in our schools.
There are so many sincere people in our land. That is one of our great resources we have as a people. The problem is so many are sincerely wrong. Sincerity is only as important as it depends on truth. There are many people who are sincerely committed to things in our nation that are contrary to God’s truth. There are many people in our nation who are sincerely committed to sinful practices. This has been a source of great strife and conflict. A nation in such conditions needs reviving by the Spirit (e.g. Joel 2; Acts 1-2). Only the Spirit of truth can reveal true truth to us (John 16:13). Many in the world will reject the Spirit of truth (John 14:17). It’s up to us to share the Spirit of truth with those caught up in the lies of the enemy. Only the Spirit of truth can help us discover the way, the truth, and the life that is Jesus (John 15:26; 14:6).
The Benefits of Revival. Revival is not a pie in the sky fantasy hope. Revival is when God intervenes in the affairs of men in an unmistakable way. Revival is when God gets ahold of hearts that had previously been closed to Him. Revival is when God opens previously shut doors. Revival is when God reaches those we couldn’t reach. Revival is when God breaks a stalemate. Revival is when God does what needs to be done. Revival is when God works so that people see what He’s done and give Him glory for they know, “Only God could have done that.”
What are the benefits of revival? The final verses of Isaiah 32 provide us with the answer.
Isaiah 32:16-20 – Then justice will dwell in the wilderness, and righteousness remain in the fruitful field. 17The work of righteousness will be peace, And the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance forever. 18 My people will dwell in a peaceful habitation, in secure dwellings, and in quiet resting places, 19Though hail comes down on the forest, And the city is brought low in humiliation. 20Blessed are you who sow beside all waters, who send out freely the feet of the ox and the donkey.
These verses provide us with a short list of the benefits of revival. “Justice” (32:16a – Hebrew mispat) refers to a verdict, a pronounced judgment. When revival comes God moves on a land for favorable just verdicts. Our legal system may be a wilderness but God is able to come down and straighten it out.
“Righteousness” (32:16b – Hebrew sedaqa) refers to rightness, justice moral virtue, righteous acts. When revival comes God straightens out that which has become warped morally. Revival is when God deals with “those who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter” (Isaiah 5:20). We certainly need that!
“Fruitful field” (32:16c -Hebrew karmel) literally means garden land. This is a word that speaks of plenty, of abundance, of fruitfulness. Revival brings fruitfulness in the things of God.
“Peace” (32:17a – Hebrew shalom) speaks of safety, wellness, friendship. This is a very broad word that speaks of overall all health, prosperity and peace. It speaks of an environment where all is well between God and people. Imagine a nation who God is the Lord. That would be blessed (Psalm 33:12).
“Quietness” (32:17b – Hebrew saqat) means to repose, rest, quiet, quietness. This is a word that speaks of rest from work. It speaks of a good kind of idleness. This is not complacency, this is resting in what God has provided. This speaks of true sabbath.
“Assurance forever” (32:17c – Hebrew betah) speaks of a place of refuge, security. This is a word that points to the state of being where people have confidence in God’s protection and provision. Think of a security that is everlasting. Think of eternal security in the truest sense of the phrase. Revival draws us to Jesus where we are eternal secure (e.g. John 5:24; 6:27; 10:28). Revival gives us confidence that He is, “able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy” (Jude 24).
“My people will dwell in a peaceful habitation” (32:18). Revival settles our homes. Revival brings order to family chaos. It brings peace where there is noise and confusion. God is orderly by nature and when He works, there is peace (e.g. 1 Corinthians 14:33 and 40).
Revival brings peace even though there will still be storms in life (32:19). Revival causes people to build their lives on the rock-solid foundation of Jesus’ words (e.g. Matthew 7:24-27). When we do that not even an Assyrian invasion will rattle us. When we do that, nothing this world throws at us can shake us.
“Blessed are those who sow beside all waters, who send out freely the feet of the ox and the donkey” (32:20). This speaks of flourishing ministry. Revival empowers God’s people to sow and to serve Him. We sow God’s word (Mark 4:14; cf. Matthew 13; Mark 4; Luke 8). We serve Him stubbornly determined as a donkey and empowered by the Spirit with the strength of an ox.
On May 31st, 1792 William Carey preached a sermon on Isaiah 54:2-3, “Enlarge the place of your tent, and let them stretch out the curtains of your dwellings; do not spare; lengthen your cords, and strengthen your stakes. For you shall expand to the right and to the left, and your descendants will inherit the nations and make the desolate cities inhabited.” It was this Spirit empowered sermon that led to a revival and a world mission movement that continues to this day. In this sermon Carey spoke the famous words, “Expect great things from God, attempt great things for God.” That is what God can do when we come to Him. That is what happens when the Spirit comes down in revival.
God sometimes allows Assyrians into our lives. He allows difficulties and problems whose solution goes beyond what this world has to offer. He uses secular means at times. But secular means always come up short. Vance Havner, an evangelist of old, once said, “We are not going to move this world by criticism of it, nor conformity to it, but only by the combustion within it of live ignited by the Spirit of God.” Revival lights a fire under the complacent.
When all else fails, we need to come to God. We should come to God first, no matter what we encounter in life. We don’t always realize or appreciate this truth. Therefore, God allows us to get to a point where, all fails. Those “when all else fails” moments in life are frequently heaven sent. They come with a purpose. That purpose is to get us to seek the Lord. Politics has its place and we should be involved in every area of life. But we need to realize that the systems, the resources of this world can only take us so far. They will inevitably fall short. It’s at that point that God reaches down to us in our profound lostness and says, “Come let us reason together.” It’s when we take Him up on His offer, that “the Spirit is poured upon us from on high.” That is what we need. Why not seek Him in prayer now, so we won’t have to get to the place of total failure later? Pray with me:
Father, we come to You in Jesus’ name. We thank You for Your grace, for Your mercy, for Your longsuffering, for Your love. We thank You for Your many blessings. We thank You for our nation. We thank You for our President. We thank You for our government and our Constitution. We thank You for our many, many blessings. But Father, we realize there are still many parts of ourselves and our nation that have strayed from You, have rejected You, are opposed to You. We are a land overcome and given to lies and deceit. We are calling good evil and evil good. There is no consciousness or care about sin. There is little to no repentance. And for that we ask Your forgiveness. And for that we ask Your help. Father, search us and root out anything in each of us that is contrary to Your holiness. Holy Spirit convict the sinner of their sin and point them to Jesus. Holy Spirit, reveal Your truth to us. Holy Spirit annihilate sin and in Jesus’ Name regenerate repentant sinners. Please, Father, Son Jesus and Holy Spirit, revive us. Holy Spirit come upon us, win our hearts and revive us with an outpouring of Your grace, power and love upon us. Please revive our nation. Lion of Judah, the Holy One of Israel, please, bring us to a place where we will be pleasing to You and bring glory to Your Name. Use us to reach a lost world. Father, in Jesus’ name, please make us what we need to be, to do what You desire us to do, for Your glory, until Jesus’ return. In Jesus Name, amen.