Isaiah 22:8-14 (ESV)
In that day you looked to the weapons of the House of the Forest, 9 and you saw that the breaches of the city of David were many. You collected the waters of the lower pool, 10 and you counted the houses of Jerusalem, and you broke down the houses to fortify the wall. 11 You made a reservoir between the two walls for the water of the old pool. But you did not look to him who did it, or see him who planned it long ago.
12 In that day the Lord God of hosts
called for weeping and mourning,
for baldness and wearing sackcloth;
13 and behold, joy and gladness,
killing oxen and slaughtering sheep,
eating flesh and drinking wine.
“Let us eat and drink,
for tomorrow we die.”
14 The Lord of hosts has revealed himself in my ears:
“Surely this iniquity will not be atoned for you until you die,”
says the Lord God of hosts.
This may seem like a very random passage to pull out and write a blog on, but when I read my study notes for this chapter, I began to see the larger lesson to be learned here and it really hit home for me.
This passage is a bit a obscure, as far as its history goes, but we do know that Jerusalem was being attacked or was about to be attacked by some enemy and in fear, they began scrambling for reinforcements, building walls and arming themselves with weapons (as any of us would do if we were being attacked). However, they neglected to seek direction and wisdom from a very important person when planning their defense- GOD.
They depended on their own power and this trusted in their own defenses and wisdom rather than relying on the God of the universe who had planned this very day from the beginning of time.
It seems silly when you put it like that, but I find myself doing this very often and even in things that could be dangerous for me to do so, such as ministry. I’m just being completely honest here. My type-A personality kicks in when something happens and I jump to organize, plan or fix whatever problem lies before me. In the “big problems” of course I turn to God for direction (after I’ve tried it my way about 500 times). But it seems that we (assuming I’m not alone) have a tendency to do this-depend on our own power.
So what? What’s the big deal as long as it turns out in the end right?- Wrong
I always knew that depending on God and leaning not on my own understanding was “important”, but if you read carefully, it says in v14 “surely this iniquity will not be atoned for until you die“. Iniquity?
The ESV study notes clarifies- “this iniquity- i.e. the sin of looking away from God to human self-rescue.”
Your attempts to try and do things your way and save yourself is a sin. Trusting and totally depending on God is not a suggestion for better living- it’s a command to be followed with diligence.
If you think about it, depending on yourself is to deny the power of God. It’s as if you are saying, “I can take care of myself better than you can, God of the Universe!” In short, it is a manifestation of pride. As I continued through the book of Isaiah I noticed that the children of Israel made a habit of this. Here is another passage that has the same themes:
Isaiah 30:1-3 English Standard Version (ESV)
Do Not Go Down to Egypt
30 “Ah, stubborn children,” declares the Lord,
“who carry out a plan, but not mine,
and who make an alliance, but not of my Spirit,
that they may add sin to sin;
2 who set out to go down to Egypt,
without asking for my direction,
to take refuge in the protection of Pharaoh
and to seek shelter in the shadow of Egypt!
3 Therefore shall the protection of Pharaoh turn to your shame,
and the shelter in the shadow of Egypt to your humiliation.
So even when they weren’t trusting in their own power, the Israelites continued to misplace their trust by putting it in the hands of others thus adding “sin to sin”. It is clear by these two passages that God wants his people to be completely dependent on him IN EVERYTHING and we should be seeking his direction and guidance in all areas of our lives.
Isaiah 30:15 English Standard Version (ESV)
15 For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel,
“In returning and rest you shall be saved;
in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.”
We need to repent of the sin of misplaced trust and put all of our trust in him. The product of this is described later in the chapter where the prophet says, “Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you,” He is waiting for you to put your trust in him so that you can have revelation, direction, peace, healing and fruitfulness:
19 For a people shall dwell in Zion, in Jerusalem; you shall weep no more. He will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry. As soon as he hears it, he answers you. 20 And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your Teacher will not hide himself anymore, but your eyes shall see your Teacher. 21 And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left. 22 Then you will defile your carved idols overlaid with silver and your gold-plated metal images. You will scatter them as unclean things. You will say to them, “Be gone!”
23 And he will give rain for the seed with which you sow the ground, and bread, the produce of the ground, which will be rich and plenteous. In that day your livestock will graze in large pastures, 24 and the oxen and the donkeys that work the ground will eat seasoned fodder, which has been winnowed with shovel and fork. 25 And on every lofty mountain and every high hill there will be brooks running with water, in the day of the great slaughter, when the towers fall. 26 Moreover, the light of the moon will be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun will be sevenfold, as the light of seven days, in the day when the Lord binds up the brokenness of his people, and heals the wounds inflicted by his blow.
Once again, although the fruitfulness here is meant to be taken literally, the spiritual principle still applies, remembering that we must abide in the TRUE vine because apart from him we can do nothing. So trusting with all your heart is a part of abiding in the true vine. Therefore, let us live in total dependency on Christ and his word and his Spirit so that we may bear much fruit and not sin against the Lord.
Proverbs 3:5 English Standard Version (ESV)
5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.