Look to the Holy One of Israel
1 Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help, and rely on horses, and trust in chariots because they are many, and in horsemen because they are very strong, but they do not look to the Holy One of Israel, nor seek the Lord! 2 Yet He also is wise and will bring disaster, and does not retract His words, but will arise against the house of evildoers, and against the help of the workers of iniquity. 3 Now the Egyptians are men, and not God, and their horses are flesh and not spirit; so the Lord will stretch out His hand, and he who helps will stumble and he who is helped will fall, and all of them will come to an end together.
4 For thus says the Lord to me, “As the lion or the young lion growls over his prey, against which a band of shepherds is called out, will not be terrified at their voice, nor disturbed at their noise, so will the Lord of hosts come down to wage war on Mount Zion and on its hill. 5 Like flying birds so the Lord of hosts will protect Jerusalem. He will protect and deliver it; He will pass over and rescue it.
6 Return to Him from whom you have deeply defected, O sons of Israel. 7 For in that day every man will cast away his silver idols and his gold idols, which your hands have made as a sin. 8 And the Assyrian will fall by a sword not of man, and a sword not of man will devour him. So he will not escape the sword, and his young men will become forced laborers. 9 And his rock will pass away because of panic, and his princes will be terrified at the standard,” Declares the Lord, whose fire is in Zion and whose furnace is in Jerusalem. NASB
The king of Judah sent word to the Pharoah in Egypt to ask for help against their common enemy, Assyria. Assyria was on the rise. They were conquering nation after nation as they spread out across the land. They were on the door step of Judah and Jerusalem. Israel, their brothers were falling and the king in Jerusalem was afraid.
Instead of turning to the Lord and seeking His help, they turned to Egypt. Egypt was next in line as victims of the invading conquerers. Surely Egypt would help them. It just made sense to make an alliance with their neighbors.
The problem was, this was not God's plan. Instead of trusting in the Lord, God's chosen nation turned for help to the godless nation of Egypt. Egypt was the nation that had held Jacob's descendents in bondage for 400 years. God had miraculously delivered Israel from captivity and made of them a great nation.
Under the leadership of Saul, David and Solomon, these descendents of Abraham had become a world class power. God had blessed them again and again. He had delivered them again and again from their enemies. God was their salvation. But they refused to obey Him and seek Him for the help they needed.
It is easy to look back on this nation which is the focus of most of the Bible and think how awful it was that they messed up so badly so many times. It is easy to see their sin and think to ourselves that we will not be like God's chosen, and yet so often rebellious, children.
We are trusting the Lord today, are we not? We, here in our church, feel like God has blessed us and that He is leading us do we not?
And yet, are there ways in which we are falling short of God's plan for us?
Are there things we could and should be doing that we are overlooking? Are we looking to the Holy One of Israel for our help and deliverance, or are we putting our faith in other things? Are we in some ways doing what seems right, and may look right to us, but it is not what God wants for us?
If God has called us to be His church, are we doing all we can to carry out the mission of the church?
A few of us met this week to fill up a ballot for the coming year. Some of you will be asked to take on responsibilities and positions of importance to the life of our congregation. Perhaps some of you have been asked already.
I, as your pastor, would ask you to pray and seek the Lord's guidance before you respond to those requests. Our task of winning the world for Christ is not one that can be accomplished by human efforts. We need the Lord's help and His guidance to be the congregation He wants us to be.
What we need most is God's help in accomplishing His work. It will take each of us prayerfully considering what The Holy One wants from us if we are to be successful in our work here.
We are called to be disciples and disciple makers. As disciples we are learning to follow the Lord. That will take commitment to the task and honest heartfelt prayer throughout the year as we seek to carry out His work.
Judah and their king put their trust in men instead of God. We must not make that same mistake. We must each be committed to the work here. Seeking Him to help us do the work!
It is important that we support those who are studying and preparing lessons by attending the services and classes that are provided for us. Some of us may feel we are old enough and have attended enough classes and services and now it is time to sit back and enjoy life. Is that what God has called us to do?
There is a retirement plan for us. Our treasures are to be laid up in heaven where our eternal reward is waiting for us. While we are here, we still have work to do. It always starts with prayer and asking the Lord what He wants us to do.
It is important that we prayerfully give as He directs us to give to support this work of building God's kingdom in our little corner of the world. The Bible teaches that the tithe belongs to God and if we withhold the tithe we are robbing God. That means we are to support our local church with at least 10 percent of our income.
But, God will move on many of us to go beyond the tithe and give offerings of money and our time well over 10 percent.
For many of us, we are nearing the time of life that we retire from the work we have done most of our lives. The world would teach us that this is a time to do what we want to do, to relax and enjoy life. Is that what God is saying to us? Perhaps He may see this time in our lives as an opportunity to do more for the kingdom. Perhaps He may see this as a time when we can get involved in kingdom work that was not possible for us when we were raising our families and struggling to make ends meet and to prepare for these years of retirement.
Look to the Holy One of Israel.
Our society has told us for years that we can retire at 65 years of age. That age is being moved back for some of us. Is that what God tells us?
I hope to continue to serve as pastor well beyond my 65th year. Brother Royer, continued to serve the Lord well past what the world would tell us is time to sit down and rest.
Many of you have lived what I am talking about today. The church is here and continues to meet needs in our community because many of you have set your minds to work well beyond retirement age. You have given sacrificially to the work of this congregation and I know most of you are living this commitment I am talking about today.
Others, have been somewhat faithful and have been here for a long time. The question I want you to ask is, What does the Lord, the Holy One of Israel want from me?
I am not your Lord. I am seeking to help you to learn to live with God as the Lord of your life. That means we do give up thinking like the world thinks, and we pray and ask the Lord to tell us how we ought to live.
The decisions we make are not to be based on trusting our own wisdom, or the wisdom of people around us. We must learn to seek God and to study to show ourselves to be approved workmen in the kingdom of God.
People in our nation pride themselves on being independent, people who pull themselves up by their own bootstraps. We, at one time, at least, believed we should give an honest days work for an honest days wage. Now, it seems to me, we believe that we should do as little as possible to get as much as possible. We have taught a generation that everyone deserves to get certain needs met whether or not they work for them.
Both attitudes are wrong. As people of God, we must not allow ourselves to think like the world thinks. We must put our faith, not in ourselves, but in God. We must seek His guidance in everything we do. When we tell our children to make their own decisions about their future, are we teaching them to seek God's guidance?
Look to the Holy One of Israel.
God must come first. He will lead us if we put our trust in Him. Seek Him. He will be found. He will find us when we seek Him.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your path.”
We are saved by the grace of God. We are saved to carry out the work that God calls us to do. Carrying out the work does not save us, but if we are saved, if we have the Spirit of God, He will lead us to do His work in His way.
When you are asked to fill a position in the church, prayerfully consider what God wants you to do. He will lead you. He will not give you too much to do. He will enable you to do whatever He calls you to do. You will not be left to do the work in your own strength. He will lead you, so do not be afraid to accept a job because it is not something you can do in your own strength. Trust God to enable you and empower you to do His work.
Look to the Holy One of Israel for your strength and for your salvation. Trust Him. He will not fail you.
Today, if you have not accepted the truth that God loves you and that He must be your Lord, give in to the Spirit and come and ask Him to be your Savior and Lord. If you have done so and need His help in knowing what He is calling you to do for the kingdom, come and kneel before Him giving yourself as a living sacrifice. He will hear and will lead you as you seek Him.
Look to the Holy One of Israel.