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Monday, July 17, 2017

Going Down to Egypt

God had some harsh things to say to Israel. One, however, was a bit odd, don't you think?
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! (Isa 31:1)
Okay, so what do we know? We know that it's bad. "Woe" is a bad thing. We know that the bad thing is pronounced upon "those who go down to Egypt for help." Umm, okay. So ...?

Well, of course, you know what was going on. Judah's enemies were coming. Assyria, a seemingly invincible powerhouse, was going to consume Judah and enslave them all. So, what do you do? Well, the wise thing would be to ally yourself with another invincible powerhouse. You know, get a strong bodyguard or something. So the best idea for Judah would be to get help from Egypt. They had the military capability to help defend Judah from Assyria. At least, that's what the world would say. And that's what they were doing. So, it is "woeful" to be wise this way? Yes, yes it is. Why?

He doesn't leave us to guess. "They did not look to the Holy One of Israel nor seek the Lord."

There are those who say that it is wrong to use worldly methods. I have yet to find anyone (including Christ) who did not use "worldly methods". Jesus, for instance, wore clothes just like everyone else. His basic approach to spreading the truth was speaking to the crowd just like everyone else. He ate and slept and traveled just like everyone else. Jesus used common methods in His life and ministry. Still, this argument is often floated among Christians. The primary target is in ministry. Some argue that churches shouldn't be using projectors or modern music or other ministry techniques. We should not be "going down to Egypt." But the problem was not the use of human methods. The problem was relying on them. The problem was trusting in them. The problem was failing to look to God.

The question, then, is not "what methods?" but "in whom do you trust?" The question is a heart question. Are we using these means because "What we're doing isn't working" or is it because we're trusting God to use means to accomplish His aims? Are we trying to prop up "a failing church" or are we trusting Christ who said "I will build My church" (Matt 16:18)? Are we relying on church marketing methods and plans or God's Word and power?

God pronounces woe against those who "go down to Egypt", who place their trust in the methods and resources of the world rather than the Lord. The question is who you're going to trust. Is it the world, or is it God? Simple. And you'd think that Christians would have no problem with the answer. We do, to our shame.

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