The Lord sent a message against Jacob; it came against Israel. All the people – Ephraim and the inhabitants of Samaria – will know it. They will say with pride and arrogance: “The bricks have fallen, but we will rebuild with cut stones; the sycamores have been cut down, but we will replace them with cedars.” The Lord has raised up Rezin’s adversaries against him and stirred up his enemies. Aram from the east and Philistia from the west have consumed Israel with open mouths. In all this, His anger is not removed, and His hand is still raised [to strike]. The people did not turn to Him who struck them; they did not seek the Lord of Hosts. So the Lord cut off Israel’s head and tail, palm branch and reed in a single day. The head is the elder, the honored one; the tail is the prophet, the lying teacher. The leaders of the people mislead [them], and those they mislead are swallowed up. Therefore the Lord does not rejoice over Israel’s young men and has no compassion on its fatherless and widows; for everyone is a godless evildoer, and every mouth speaks folly. In all this, His anger is not removed, and His hand is still raised [to strike]. For wickedness burns like a fire that consumes thorns and briers and kindles the forest thickets so that they go up in a column of smoke. The land is scorched by the wrath of the Lord of Hosts, and the people are like fuel for the fire. No one has compassion on his brother. They carve [meat] on the right, but they are [still] hungry; they have eaten on the left, but they are [still] not satisfied. Each one eats the flesh of his own arm. Manasseh is with Ephraim, and Ephraim with Manasseh; together, both are against Judah. In all this, His anger is not removed, and His hand is still raised [to strike]. Isaiah 9:8-21 (HCSB)
There may be times when everything seems to be stacked against you. You realize the trials and tribulations you are facing are the consequences for choices you made in your past. Is this the time to play the blame game and get mad at God? Is it time to run from the Lord because you fear his anger? Or, is this the time to ignore all the voices of those who are causing you to stumble as they cry out, “Run for your lives!”
If only Israel and Judah recognized the wrath of the Lord was not intended to destroy them, but to reveal their wicked, selfish ways. Their leaders distorted God’s word and tickled the ears of the people as they turned their hearts towards man-made idols erected in man-made temples. The people of Israel and Judah became impressed upon what they could build and the beauty and majesty of their creation and forgot why they built it in the first place – God. They forsook the covenant care of the Lord and forgot who had delivered them from their bondage in Egypt and delivered them into the land they were living. They forgot this same Lord as they began to settle in the land, They looked around and declared they wanted to have control over their lives. They begged God for a king like all the other kingdoms and everything went downhill from there.
Within three generations (Saul, David and Solomon) Israel rebelled within itself and divided. Their external troubles came as a result of their internal selfish strife. The northern tribes became known as Israel, and the southern tribes known as Judah.
Their selfish acts of jealousy, pride and arrogance caused the Lord to finally declare, “Enough is enough!” The Lord made it clear through the message that Isaiah declared – “our choices have consequences, and running won’t solve the problem.”
Just like the people of Israel and Judah, we too are subject to the same dangerous and destructive acts of jealousy, pride and arrogance. Those selfish acts still seek to turn our hearts from God’s will, ways, and wisdom. Thankfully, the biblical historical narrative testifies that God never quits on us. The circumstances we face in life are not God’s fault, but are the consequences of our choices that God allows to catch our attention. When we try to outrun the consequences of our choices, God finds a way to send the same message to us, “Running won’t solve the problem! Stop running! Quit listening to the crowd. Seek the salvation that can only come by living according to my will, ways and wisdom.” Discover by faith, not fear, that the Lord is working through what is going on in your life to draw you closer to him?
Are you tired of running?