The Fall of a Godly Nation
The Folly of Not Trusting God – Isaiah Pronounces Judgment
Leadership is essential for the prosperity of a nation. If the leadership is corrupt, then the nation will most likely be corrupt. Corruption breeds more corruption. If the leadership is Godly, then the nation has a better chance to be Godly. Godliness breeds more Godliness.
Recalling the history described earlier in previous articles in this series, Israel and Judah had entered a dark time in their history as once again the leadership and the people wavered from their trust in God in favor of compromises and alliances. The northern kingdom of Israel was under constant attack from Assyria for decades. With the sacking of Samaria (the capital city of Israel) in 722 BC, all ten tribes of the northern kingdom fell to the Neo-Assyrian Empire. The long and bloody warfare leading to their fall was conducted in multiple waves by the Assyrian monarchs Tiglath-Pileser III (747-727 BC), Shalmaneser V (727-722 BC), and Sargon II (722-705 BC). The Bible records that Israel’s defeat was because “… the children of Israel had sinned against the Lord their God … (see 2 Kings 17:5-12).”
But for Judah a good king, Hezekiah (715 BC – 686 BC), son of Ahaz, provided hope that the southern kingdom of Judah would escape the onslaught of the Assyrians. Hezekiah brought about excellent religious reforms to Judah, turning away from the sinful leadership of his father Ahaz. Hezekiah led Judah to return to the worship of Yahweh and relied upon God for direction and protection … well, not entirely! You see, in preparation for the ultimate siege by Assyria, Hezekiah formed a military alliance with Egypt, an unGodly nation. Egypt would provide horses and horsemen in the event that Judah was attacked by Assyria. This alliance was of men and not ordained by God. Assyria overran almost all of Judah leaving only Jerusalem standing. The Egyptian alliance proved to be useless to Hezekiah and Judah confirming The Folly of Not Trusting God. Nevertheless, with the repentance of the nation, God would protect Jerusalem from the ravages of Sennacherib’s army of 185,000 soldiers.
Scripture: (all Scripture ESV unless otherwise noted)
Isaiah 31:1-5 – Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help and 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! 2 And yet he is wise and brings disaster; he does not call back his words, but will arise against the house of the evildoers and against the helpers of those who work iniquity. 3 The Egyptians are man, and not God, and their horses are flesh, and not Spirit. When the Lord stretches out His hand, the helper will stumble, and he who is helped will fall, and they will all perish together. 4 For thus the Lord said to me, “As a lion or a young lion growls over his prey, and when a band of shepherds is called out against him he is not terrified by their shouting or daunted at their noise, so the Lord of hosts will come down to fight on Mount Zion and on its hill. 5 Like birds hovering, so the Lord of hosts will protect Jerusalem; he will protect and deliver it; he will spare and rescue it.”
6 Turn to Him from whom people have deeply revolted, O children of Israel. 7 For in that day everyone shall cast away his idols of silver and his idols of gold, which your hands have sinfully made for you. 8 “And the Assyrian shall fall by a sword, not of man; and a sword, not of man, shall devour him; and he shall flee from the sword, and his young men shall be put to forced labor. 9 His rock shall pass away in terror, and his officers desert the standard in panic,” declares the Lord, whose fire is in Zion, and whose furnace is in Jerusalem.
Isaiah’s words of wisdom found in chapter 31:1-5 clearly relate The Folly of Not Trusting God. Egypt was well-known for its advanced cavalry. They had strong horses, strong chariots, strong horsemen. So it seemed natural to form an alliance with Egypt for added protection against the Assyrians. But the alliance between Judah and Egypt was an unholy alliance and would prove faulty and unproductive. A lesson here: God opposes such relationships for His children with workers of iniquity. Matthew Henry’s commentary relates “Sinners may be convicted of (their) folly by plain and self-evident truths, which they cannot deny, but will not believe. There is no escaping the judgments of God; and evil pursues sinners.” Israel was wasting its time with Egypt.
On the other hand Isaiah confirms that God will provide all that is required to defend Jerusalem without the help of others. God and His people do not need alliances … especially with the unGodly. God will serve as the Lion “growling over his prey” (Isaiah 31:4) with fearless might and will not be distracted from His mission by “shouting and noise.” Although Judah has not fully trusted God and done evil through the alliance with Egypt, God Himself will, of his own grace, provide the help that Judah needs.
Isaiah continues to describe the certainty of God’s protection for His people by providing the example of how a mother hen (bird) protects her offspring under her wings (Isaiah 31:5) in the times of danger. The protection will be provided with compassion and affection. The Lord God Almighty will defend Jerusalem without the help of Egypt. He will make sure that Jerusalem’s safety is preserved. It is unnecessary to have a fail-safe defense dependent upon man. God will handle it on His own.
The words of Jesus on this subject are recorded in Matthew 23:37: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing.”
God promises through Isaiah that He will deliver Jerusalem if they return to Him. “Turn to Him from whom people have deeply revolted, O children of Israel. (Isaiah 31:6)” It will be necessary for them to repent and to return to God from their backsliding. Such repentance is always necessary.
Consider these additional scriptures:
- Ezekiel 16:62-63 – “I will establish my covenant with you, and you shall know that I am the Lord, 63 that you may remember and be confounded, and never open your mouth again because of your shame, when I atone for you for all that you have done, declares the Lord God.
- Hosea 6:1 – “Come, let us return to the Lord; for he has torn us, that he may heal us;he has struck us down, and he will bind us up.”
Judah must give up their idols of silver and gold and turn back to God. Healing will result. Misery will be replaced by contentment and confidence in The Lord’s protection. Isaiah pronounces judgement on the Assyrians. They will fall not by the act of man, but by the act of God through His angel. As a result of God’s actions, Sennacherib, with the loss of his entire army, will flee home alone and Jerusalem will be protected until another day.
God has blessed our nation since its founding in 1776. We have not been without our major flaws … slavery included. We have fought a war of independence, a shameful civil war, two World Wars and a number of other lesser wars. The Civil War Trust says “roughly 1,264,000 American soldiers have died in the nation’s wars … 620,000 in the Civil War and 644,000 in all other conflicts. It was only as recently as the Vietnam War that the amount of American deaths in foreign wars eclipsed the number who died in the Civil War.” In comparison, worldwide deaths from World War II alone amounted to 60 million or 2.5% of the world population at that time.
The current state of affairs in America is quite similar to that of Israel and Judah in the time of Hezekiah and Sennacherib. There are enemies both within and without. There are fears for our safety from just about every corner of the world. We face real threats from terrorism in our cities, our seaports, at diplomatic outposts around the world, on the high seas and even within the relative safety of our own borders.
At the same time, our volunteer military forces are taxed to the limit and have recently had to cut their defense budget in such a significant manner that we can only be involved in one war theater at a time going forward because of financial constraints.
Our leadership has been dealing with the most significant financial crisis since the Great Depression as the country becomes more indebted to unfriendly and foreign entities such as China. The Federal Reserve is artificially holding down interest rates to never before experienced levels supposedly to stimulate the economy, but the action is only marginally working. The unemployment and underemployment rates are at all-time highs since the Great Depression.
Competition to hire recent college graduates is almost non-existent as many students can not find employment in their specialty field, are taking jobs well below their qualification levels, and many have returned home to live with their parents until the situation improves.
Same-sex marriage, a ridiculous thought less than ten years ago, has been embraced and supported by our highest ranking leadership and is now legal in 17 states. Abortion … the outright murder of unborn babies … has been legalized since 1973 and the lives of almost 56 million God-created souls have been brutally and senselessly sacrificed on the fires of Tophet (see my article On Child Sacrifice).
Five sovereign nations (United States, Russian Federation, United Kingdom, France, China) now have the capability to destroy entire populations with their nuclear arsenals. Pakistan, India and the rogue nation of North Korea have also detonated nuclear weapons. Israel is thought to have the ability to deliver a nuclear strike. Iran, one of the staunch enemies of Israel dedicated to the destruction of Israel is actively developing a nuclear weapons capability right in the face of world powers. One mistake or intentional act of terrorism could lead to a worldwide nuclear disaster.
While all of this turmoil is going on the three branches of our government (Executive, Legislative, Judicial) are in complete gridlock … totally unable to legislate, totally unable to agree on just about anything … continually blaming each other for everything that is wrong … agreeing on nothing productive.
Is there a way out of this seemingly hopeless mess? The answer is YES! God recorded His solution in 2 Chronicles 7:14 – “if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”
So the answer is for us as individual Christians, and our nation as a whole, to get down on our knees, admit we are sinners in need of a Savior, ask God to forgive us of our sins, and allow Him to gain control of our lives, the lives of our leadership, and our future as a nation. God has promised that He will hear and heal! God never makes a promise that He does not keep.
We can start this process in our homes and our churches. We need a revival like we have never seen in modern times. An awakening of the church liken to that found in Acts chapter two. An awakening of the fire of God’s holy love. An awakening of devotion to God in our hearts and families. An awakening of a nation that serves God not just in private but in public. An awakening that allows us to know with absolute assurance that we may depend upon God to protect us … no matter the circumstances … just as he did Hezekiah and Jerusalem when they were faithful to Him!
As Christians there are many lessons we can learn from the fall of Israel and Judah. As a direct result of my study I have quite a number of topics in mind that I plan to develop into articles in the future, Lord willing. This first set of articles will deal with a portion of the time period when King Hezekiah of Judah and his strong Assyrian adversary, King Sennacherib reigned. As always, the articles will be based on Scripture and include a Reflection that draws parallels to our modern times. Here’s my ambitious list of the topics, not necessarily listed in order, that I want to cover:
- The Fall of a Godly Nation – An Introduction to a Series of Articles on Ancient Israel and Judah That Parallel Our Modern Day
- Revival Before the Fall – Hezekiah Brings Reforms and Revival to Judah
- Successful Execution of the Wrong Plan – Hezekiah’s Tunnel
- Intentional Deceit – The Lies and Intimidation of Sennacherib
- The Folly of Not Trusting God – Isaiah Pronounces Judgement
- God Listens and Restores – Hezekiah’s Illness and Recovery
- Lest Any Man Should Boast – Sennacherib Blasphemes Jehovah
- Parading Your Own Glory – The Consequences of Hezekiah’s Pride
- Passing the Mantle – The Failure of a Godly Father
- Conclusion: Is It Too Late for America?
I am excited about the message of these articles and look forward to completing them! It will take me some time as I have again begun working on my third book, Thank You Lord For Saving My Soul, which will include an extensive updated article on Evangelists Seth and Bessie Sykes.
Look for the next article in this series soon.
Where to Read More:
- Scriptures About Hezekiah – 2 Kings 18 – 20; 2 Chronicles 29 – 32; Isaiah 36 – 39
- Biography of King Hezekiah
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- Christian Devotions & Quick Studies – Hardback, Paperback, eBook
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- Thank You Lord for Saving My Soul – coming winter 2014 (sorry for the delay)
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