Isaiah 15-17

What’s It Going To Take?

“Then at last the people will look to their Creator and turn their eyes to the Holy One of Israel.” ­– Isaiah 17:7 NLT

We are a stubborn lot, we human beings. We will endure all kinds of pain and suffering in order to have things our own way. We can be, to use a biblical term, stiff-necked when it comes to our autonomy. Self-rule and self-sufficiency are the order of the day, just as they were in Isaiah’s day. It’s not hard to see the stubbornness of the people of God who Isaiah was addressing. The very punishments of God were designed to get their attention and draw them back to Him. But it’s amazing just how much it took to get them to wake up and smell the coffee. It would take demoralizing defeat and deportation to a foreign land to finally get them to sit up and take notice – to recognize their sin and their need for salvation from the hands of God.

In these chapters Isaiah describes the devastation and destruction that is going to come on the Moabites and Syrians, but the northern kingdom of Israel as well. He tells them, “Israel’s glory will grow dim; its robust body will waste away” (Isaiah 17:4 NLT). “Only a few of its people will be left” (Isaiah 17:6 NLT). But God’s ultimate purpose was restorative, not just punitive. He wanted His people to turn back to Him. “Then at last the people will look to their Creator and turn their eyes to the Holy One of Israel” (Isaiah 17:7 NLT). They will finally stop turning to idols for help. They’ll quit giving their devotion and placing their trust in something other than God. It will take devastation and desolation to get them to do this though. God will have to bring them to an end of themselves and prove to them their need for Him. It will not be until they realize that no one or nothing can save them that they finally turn to God for help and hope.

Isn’t that just like mankind? We have to reach a point where we don’t have another trick up our sleeve, when we don’t have a solution to our problems or a way to get ourselves out of hot water that we finally turn to God. It may take an illness, a financial collapse, our spouse walking out on us, the death of a loved one, or the loss of our job before we finally stop relying on ourselves and start turning to God. Am I saying that God causes illness, makes our finances fail, or prompts our wife to walk out on us? No. But in His sovereign will, God can and does use these circumstances of life to get our attention. He allows the events of life – sometimes the results of our own sinful decisions or just the natural fallout of living in a fallen world – to get our attention and show us our need for Him. He is always calling us back to dependency on Him and non-self-sufficiency. He wants us to want Him. If it takes a failure to improve our faith – so be it. But what will it take for you? How long will you ignore God and live according to your own will? How long will you do things your way instead of His? How long will you devote your time, attention and resources to things other than Him before You realize that “you have turned from the God that can save you. You have forgotten the Rock who can hide you”? (Isaiah 7:10 NLT). God is calling? Are you listening? God is ready to save you and restore you? Are you ready?

Father, You are always out to restore Your people. You want us to rely on and trust in You. But we are stubborn. We are so prone to put our trust and hope in anything and everything but You. It seems that it takes some kind of collapse to get our attention. We have to fail before we realize just how much we need You. Our prayer lives tend to get stronger in times of need. Our spiritual vision improves during times of difficulty. Help us to learn to seek You without the aid of discipline. Help us to learn to turn to You without having to suffer first. Continue to soften our stubborn hearts and prune us of pride. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men