Reading the 30th chapter of Isaiah today did not sound so much like the ancient world as it reminded me of the world today:
30 “Woe to the obstinate children,”
declares the Lord,
“to those who carry out plans that are not mine,
forming an alliance, but not by my Spirit,
heaping sin upon sin;
2 who go down to Egypt
without consulting me;
who look for help to Pharaoh’s protection,
to Egypt’s shade for refuge.
Security is something all humans long for, so much so that we will seek it wherever we believe it can be found. Notice the indictments leveled against the people.
They carry out plans but not God’s.
They form alliance but not an alliance that is Spirit inspired.
They consult with people and exclude God from their deliberations.
Are these just problems experienced in Ancient times? Do we have these same problems today? Do I have this problem?
There is something in the human experience that causes us to take matters into our own hands and plan accordingly. Ingenuity and problem-solving are wonderful attributes, but as believers, no amount of creativity and brain-storming can take the place of seeking God’s wisdom. Initiative and a strong work ethic are great, but as people of faith, we believe that God is for us and He will help to direct and protect His people.
The prophet at the beginning of the thirtieth chapter of Isaiah says, “obstinate children.” Here is how the dictionary defines the word obstinate: “stubbornly refusing to change one’s opinion or chosen course of action, despite attempts to persuade one to do so.” How often have I been guilty of operating in this manner? Convinced my way is not only right, but it is also the only way. When dealing with absolute truth, you cannot change the absolute truth. When it comes to my plans, they should always be subject to change. I do not want to change because of a whim or undue pressure, but if a better idea or way appears, I need to be willing to adjust my plans. A wise person changes their mind, but a fool never does! In meeting with a group of people this week, I was reminded that no one of us is as smart as all of us. Someone made a statement about a decision we were about to make that changed the perspective of the rest of us, bringing a fresh and needed insight. I am glad he spoke up and gave his idea. It was the right way for us to proceed. Never be afraid to speak up, and likewise never be alarmed with the prospect of seeking God’s will in every and any situation.
Networking is such a key concept. Again it is not networking and consulting others that is a problem; it is instead not consulting with God. To consult with God, you have to know Him and spend time in His presence. He made us for a relationship with Him and to be in relationship with others.
At one time, I worked in a place that relied upon consultants. In those days, it seemed to me that a consultant was someone who lived over 50 miles away, wore a suit, and had a briefcase. They would come in and listen and make a couple of comments, point out several things that needed changing, and then they would leave. Often time, their insight was spot on, and they were helpful. We need someone from outside at times to help us see things differently. According to the passage, we need to consider that God wants us to consult with Him.
The takeaways for me from this passage are the following:
Don’t be obstinate, be open and ready to receive from God and others
Do not think that your strength comes from your plans and alliances. Our strength, as well as our help, comes from the Lord