Sunday, February 22, 2009

Horses, Chariots, & the Holy One of Israel - Isaiah 31

"Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help,
and rely on horses, and trust in chariots
because they are many,
and in horsemen because they are very strong,
but they do not look to the Holy One of Israel,
nor seek the LORD!
Yet He also is wise and will bring disaster,
and does not retract His words,
but will arise against the house of evildoers,
and against the help of the workers of iniquity.
Now the Egyptians are men, and not God,
and their horses are flesh and not spirit;
so the LORD will stretch out His hand,
and he who helps will stumble,
and he who is helped will fall,
and all of them will come to an end together."
(vs 1-3)

Verses 1-3 pick up on the theme found at the beginning of chapter 30. Israel is trusting in the strength of Egypt rather than in the omnipotence of God. They are fleeing to the worshippers of false gods for assistance, all the while ignoring the One True and Living God who had made a covenant with them. Absolute foolishness!

Chapter 31 begins with a "woe" to them for this folly. They are relying on the horses and trusting in the chariots of this mighty pagan land "but they do not look to the Holy One of Israel, nor seek the LORD! Yet He is wise...." Matthew Henry asks, "Would not infinite wisdom engaged on their side stand them in more stead than all the policies of Egypt?" David expressed the answer to Henry's rhetorical question in Psalm 20 when he wrote: "Some boast in chariots, and some in horses; but we will boast in the name of the LORD our God."

They will not trust Him and if they will not place themselves under His all wise care then He will justly rise up against them. They have removed themselves from the place of covenant mercy and run headlong into the arms of "evildoers." By virtue of that action they have run headlong into the arms of God's divine wrath and covenant curses.

The strongest horses and mightiest chariots are not God and therefore there is no certain safety in them. God is the only immutable Rock. The best of men are not absolute sources of refuge. My husband and my dearest friends cannot be the ultimate horses and chariots of defense that I seek. Despite their love for me and earnest desire to help, they still are only finite creatures and will at times fail.

If the workers of righteousness cannot guarantee us security let it be known that the workers of iniquity can only guarantee us utter ruin. This is who Israel is running to, "the workers of iniquity", and the LORD is just about to stretch out His hand to bring about their well-deserved fall.

Oh that we with David would put our greatest trust in the name of the LORD our God. May He be our boast, our shield, our refuge, our strength. "How blessed are all who take refuge in Him!" (Ps 2:12)

In His glorious grace,


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