New International Version
“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;
who go down to Egypt
without consulting me;
who look for help to Pharaoh’s protection,
to Egypt’s shade for refuge.
But Pharaoh’s protection will be to your shame,
Egypt’s shade will bring you disgrace.
Though they have officials in Zoan
and their envoys have arrived in Hanes,
everyone will be put to shame
because of a people useless to them,
who bring neither help nor advantage,
but only shame and disgrace.”
When we are faced with a challenge and trial, where we turn will determine where we place our trust. Hezekiah was the ruling king of Southern Israel at this time. The threat that he faced was from the Assyrian empire. In this life we always have two choices when it comes to making and basing our decisions. We can either trust in human power and wisdom or we can trust in the Living God. Hezekiah’s advisors encouraged him to put his trust in the power of Egypt. To make an alliance with Egypt. But the Lord showed how foolish this truly was.
Because they formed an alliance with a foreign nation that was not part of God’s plan they acted in disobedience. Because they acted in disobedience they were heaping sin upon sin. When we act contrary to the will and leading of the Lord we walk in sin. Sin means to miss the mark. The mark is always based upon acting and living as God has directed. When we act in selfishness and self preservation, we cast aside the will of God for our own wants and desires. Here the nation of Israel was acting like an obstinate and rebellious child, failing to heed the word of the Lord. The ministry of the prophet was never easy because they were the mouthpiece of God, they were often hated and rejected because the people wanted to go their own way instead of walking according to the purposes of God.
The people believed the answer to overcoming the threat of Assyria was finding protection in the power and stronghold of Egypt. They desired to abide under the shadow of Egypt instead of abiding in the shadow of the Almighty (Psalm 91:1). God multiple times has told Israel throughout its history that He is their rock and their refuge (Psalm 18:1-3, 2 Sam 22:2, Psalm 71:3). Time and time again God has proven His faithfulness. All Israel had to do was look back upon its history and see the mighty hand of God in the course of its nation. They would never have become a nation if it were not for the Lord. It is God who saves us and it is God who sustains us. We can rest in the shadow of the Almighty. To trust in anything else besides the Living God is true foolishness. But when people trust not in the Lord but their own wisdom, this is the end result of their decision and choices.
Egypt’s protection and shadow would in the end bring shame and disgrace to Israel. Assyria would easily crush Egypt. Even though to the counselors that surrounded Hezekiah the Egyptians looked powerful and were a great place to find protection, it was simple foolishness. The only right course of action when we are in relationship with the Living God is to find our hope and trust in Him alone. It is not to trust man’s wisdom or man’s power. It is to trust in the Lord alone.
The emissaries of Israel had arrived at the Egyptian cities of Hanes and Zoan to make an alliance with Egypt. But in seeking help from Egypt they would only find shame and disgrace. If they made an alliance with Egypt and put their trust in Egypt, they would face certain defeat. The power of Egypt would be useless against the Assyrian empire. This is always the end result when we fail to trust the Living God.
All of us face challenges and trials that look like the Assyrian Empire on the horizon breathing down our necks. The enemy taunts us and tries to intimidate us. The enemy tries to get us to abandon our hope in the Living God and instead trust in human wisdom and power. But it will always result in defeat. The only right course of action when we know Jesus Christ is to trust in Him alone. No matter how things look on the surface, our trust and hope must be based upon the Living God. All we need to do is look to His word to see how He has been faithful time and time again.