Alliance or Reliance?

A Serious Problem

The nation of Judah faced a serious problem. They were a small nation at the time and by no means a major world empire. Meanwhile, the reigning superpower of the world, Assyria, was planning a military attack against them. To prepare for this battle, Judah sent a diplomatic envoy to Egypt, which was another world power, though not as impressive as Assyria. By doing this, they hoped to form an alliance that would improve their ability to resist Assyria and defend Jerusalem (Isa 30:2).

As Judah set these plans in motion in a hurry, God revealed through Isaiah that they should cancel these plans and take a different approach. To broadcast this message, he instructed Isaiah to use the best messaging platforms available so that many would hear (Isa 30:8). He assured the people that their diplomatic plans for an alliance with Egypt would fail.

  1. The envoy’s journey to Egypt would be dangerous, featuring hungry lions and venomous snakes (Isa 30:6a).
  2. The journey would also be expensive for Judah, since Egypt would require exorbitant funds to defend them from Assyria (Isa 30:6b).
  3. Even so, Egypt would prove to be a reluctant and worthless ally (Isa 30:6c–7a).
  4. In the end, Egypt would do nothing anyway (Isa 30:7b).

Despite this fair warning, the people pressed forward with their plans. In doing so, they failed to understand the reason for their problem in the first place. The Assyrian campaign against them was not a case of unfortunate events or bad luck, requiring a superior military strategy to overcome it. It was instead the result of their backlog of sins against God (Isa 30:1).

A Serious Response

Since the real problem was spiritual in nature, it required a spiritual response as well – not a military or political one. Isaiah beautifully described this response in this way: “For thus says the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel: ‘In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and confidence shall be your strength.’” What does this teach me?

It is inherently wrong for one nation to form a diplomatic alliance with another nation.

It does not teach me that it is inherently wrong for one nation to form a diplomatic alliance with another nation. This is a necessary aspect of resourceful government, whether from a financial or military standpoint. Instead, this teaches me that when the problems I face are the result of my own sinful choices, I need to resolve those problems in a spiritual way. Furthermore, I should not seek alternative plans to alleviate the consequences of my sin, while avoiding the root of my problems.

I should not seek alternative plans to alleviate the consequences of my sin, while avoiding the root of my problems.

God urged Judah to “return and rest.” By saying this, he directed them not only to turn back their envoy from the arduous and worthless journey to Egypt, but to repent and turn back to him, acknowledging the sins that had led to the Assyrian threat in the first place.  He also recommended “quietness and confidence,” which means that he encouraged them to halt the diplomatic commotion and to quietly, calmly rely on him to save them and to give them strength.

Sadly, the inhabitants of Judah refused God’s appeal. They insisted on forging an alliance with Egypt anyway and refused to acknowledge their sin, but their plan would not work. Assyria would overpower whatever horses Judah would receive from Egypt by the strength of one-thousand to one (Isa 30:16-17).

Like Judah, you too can learn from this fateful blunder. Learn to properly assess whether any of the difficulties you face are the result of your own sinful choices. When you find that this is so, then acknowledge your sin and turn back to God. Rest in his forgiveness and receive the peace and confidence that he provides (1 John 1:9). If God is on your side, then who can be against you (Rom 8:31-39)? But if you are suffering for your own rebellious choices, then no alliance or strategy, no matter how sophisticated it may be, can solve your problem. Only God can.

If you are suffering for your own rebellious choices, then no alliance or strategy, no matter how sophisticated it may be, can solve your problem.

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