Thursday, July 08, 2010
Today’s Topic: Who’s Really In Control?
Today’s Text: “Yet this is what the Sovereign LORD says:…If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all.” (Isaiah 7:7a, 9b)
Fear came upon them and shook them like the trees of the forest being shaken by strong winds. Their country was ruled by a powerful warrior with a great heritage passed on from his father. Yet they were scared. Their rivals, from whom they had broken away years before, were now alliance with another country and they were on the warpath headed right for them. The enemies were trying to force them into an alliance of three to battle against a larger enemy that ruled the region. They wanted nothing to do with it, but felt like there was no other option. Either way would probably result in their destruction.
This was the situation Isaiah was asked by the Lord to address with King Ahaz of Judah, a descendant of King David. Ephraim, which was the Northern Kingdom also called Israel, had allied itself with Aram, which is Syria. They wanted Judah to join them in a massive war with Assyria. God sent Isaiah to Ahaz to convince him not to enter such an alliance. This scared Ahaz and the people of Judah because they thought for sure that Ephraim and Aram would wipe them out for their non-compliance.
I’ve been in many situations where I felt like I had no options and was being forced to see only one outcome. I’m sure you have also. It’s scary. But I’ve learned something very significant. It took many years of wondering why I was being shaken by the circumstances of life, but I think I have it figured out. After many attempts to stand in my own abilities and wisdom which always resulted in falling on my face, I think I discovered the answer. The fear we feel is generated from the same source as the fear the people of Judah felt – misplaced faith. We fall into fear when our faith is placed in man’s reason and abilities. Faith in God conquers ALL fear.
To come to that conclusion I had to first conquer the greatest fear of all – becoming completely humble before the Lord. I was in denial about how much confidence I had placed in my own wisdom and abilities. I think we all are in such a state of denial. It’s scary to think about letting go completely of every ounce of control of our lives and surrendering it to someone else, even if that someone is God Almighty. We believe very strongly in ourselves – more than we dare to admit. The fear we feel when something goes wrong proves it. Admit it. It’s true.
Once we reach the point of confession of our pride, we will be able to see and trust the incredible power of our Lord. That’s the message Isaiah was delivering to King Ahaz in chapter 7. While the people of Judah were looking at the invasion through human eyes of fear, God wanted them to see it through His eyes of Sovereignty. God is in control of ALL things. He is more powerful than anything He controls. He has more wisdom than any opponent. He is absolutely Sovereign!
King Ahaz and the people of Judah weren’t looking at life that way. They were looking at it from the human perspective. They believed in themselves more than they believed in their God. Belief in self always ends in fear, because we know who we are. We know our limitations and weaknesses. Fear will always be the result when life throws something at us we know we cannot handle. But belief in God knows no fear, because God has no limitations or weaknesses. There is nothing He cannot handle. Fear cannot exist where faith in God abounds.
So Isaiah tells King Ahaz how God sees the situation. The two humanly irresistible armies are nothing more than two smoldering stubs of firewood in the eyes of the Lord (verse 4). It is not possible for them to overthrow Judah (verse 7), and the reason is simple – both of these nations are being completely ruled by man, while Judah has the Lord Almighty as its King (verses 8-9). If the people of Judah will stand firm in their faith in God, they will not fall or fail.
So, please connect with this – if we are in control of our lives; if we are seeing life through our eyes of human wisdom and evaluating circumstances based on our strength and resources, we are shaking in fear because our faith is misplaced. But if we are seeing life through the eyes of our Sovereign King, and have surrendered ALL control to Him, we will stand in true faith and not be shaken by fear. It really is that black and white.