Expecting Help from Egypt and Horses
Is. 31:1 ¶ Alas for those who go down to Egypt for help
and who rely on horses,
who trust in chariots because they are many
and in horsemen because they are very strong,
but do not look to the Holy One of Israel
or consult the LORD!
The Israelites were in desperate need of help and the One who had helped them time and again stood ready to intervene. Unfortunately they would not look in the direction of the LORD. The LORD had brought them out of Egypt and defeated the entire Egyptian army by swallowing them up in the sea and yet that became such a distant memory that they would again turn their glance in the direction of Egypt for help. The very place that had brought them oppression and enslaved them was the place where they wanted to go. They were looking at human strength and force and the Egyptians had the horses and the chariots that they thought they needed to fight the battle.
From a human perspective of strategic planning this probably sounded good, but the implications were grave. The Holy One of Israel had promised his help, a help which is beyond human understanding and strategic planning done at the end of a pencil. Alas, those who would expect help from Egypt and from horses would have to ultimately face destruction.
What is our Egypt? I think about people who find themselves in destructive relationships, ones in which they are abused over and over again and yet even when rescued, in a moment of weakness they return. Somehow, even when there has been a rescue, there is no faith to trust in the sustainability of that rescue. Egypt had enslaved the Israelites and used them for hundreds of years. Breaking free and becoming a people of their own was a miracle beyond human comprehension. Why go back to this source?
Could it be that now the Israelites believed that they were such a powerful nation that Egypt would respect them? Ah, the foils of the enemy! Why not fool us into believing that we have “arrived” spiritually and that the temptations of the past will no longer have any power over us. This is when we are actually believing and trusting in ourselves and our own decisions rather than trusting in God. It happens when things are going well and instead of giving God the credit we think that we, ourselves, have worked all of this out. So when the difficulties arise, we don’t look to God, but we look to our own resources or to those neighboring to make a difference.
Let me return to the question, “What is our Egypt?” It could be a person, a relationship, or it may be a way in which we have always done things. We may have broken free and God may have been moving but then we confronted difficulties. Instead of trusting God to lead us through we want to go back to that which was comfortable. Yes, it may have led us into slavery, but hey, we were comfortable there. God is wanting to set us free and he is strong and mighty ready to consult with us. Why don’t we ask him? The Israelites ignored him and there are times that we do the same.
Unfortunately we, too, may be expecting help from Egypt and their horses. The strong resource of the past and the “things” that they have which we do not. Surely that will help resolve all of our problems! In the meantime the Holy One of Israel, the LORD — the One who conquered all our enemies is standing by with more power than we could ever imagine. Are we expecting help from Egypt and her horses, or will we turn to the LORD?
Lord, thank you for all you have done and continue to do for your people. Please, help us to turn toward you and trust in you daily. Amen.