Monday, November 10, 2008

Political Conspiracies

Isaiah 8:12-14 (NKJV)12 “Do not say, ‘A conspiracy,’ Concerning all that this people call a conspiracy, Nor be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled. 13 The Lord of hosts, Him you shall hallow; Let Him be your fear, And let Him be your dread. 14 He will be as a sanctuary, But a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense To both the houses of Israel, As a trap and a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem.

Isaiah lived at a very tumultuous time in Judah’s history, in many respects a frightening time in Judah’s history. For about two hundred years the separate kingdoms of Judah in the south and Israel in the north had squared off against one another in an ancient cold war. Occasionally the ice would break and outright fighting would take place; but even when outright fighting wasn’t occurring, tensions were high.

In Isaiah’s day, the ice had broken and the northern kingdom of Israel was preparing to invade and conquer her smaller sister of Judah. Israel joined forces with the land of Syria and together they planned to conquer Judah and place a puppet king upon the throne in Jerusalem.

Many in Judah were understandably afraid. How could Judah possibly withstand the combined might of Israel and Syria? Destruction seemed inevitable. The conspiracy among the kings of Israel and Syria would certainly undo them.

And so the great temptation among the people of Judah was to look around for a Savior. Who will deliver us from our dire circumstances? Shall we call upon Egypt? Shall we call upon Assyria? Perhaps, some suggested, we should seek counsel on the course to take from the dead – we should consult the mediums and spiritists.

In the midst of this situation, this angst, God spoke His word through the prophet Isaiah. “Do not regard as a conspiracy everything that these people regard as a conspiracy.” You see the people of Judah were tempted to look about them and conclude that the attack upon them by Israel and Syria was a result of a conspiracy between Israel and Syria. Well, wasn’t it? Yes and no. Certainly it was in the sense that Israel and Syria had joined forces to overthrow Judah.

However, in our text today, Isaiah reminds his hearers that in another sense the answer was no – there was no conspiracy. How’s that? Because God Himself had planned and orchestrated this event for this very time in Judah's history. Israel and Syria weren’t the real players on the scene – God was. And God calls His people in the midst of political turmoil to look to Him as their Savior. Do not look to Egypt; don’t look to Assyria; look to me and be saved all you ends of the earth. The Lord Him shall you fear and of Him shall you be in dread. He is the one who has orchestrated this to instruct and chastise to the end that all the ends of the earth might know that there is a God in Judah who rules and reigns over the sons of men.

Events this week have been the cause of much consternation and hand wringing among many Christians. Barack Obama has been elected as the 44th President of the United States of America and the Democratic Party has achieved majority control of the legislative branch of government. If you are disturbed by this turn of events then the message from Isaiah is very relevant – “Do not say, ‘A conspiracy,’ in relation to all this people says, ‘A conspiracy.’” The Lord of Hosts – Him you shall fear, Him you shall dread. This turn of events is first and foremost from the hand of God and is a call upon us as the people of God to seek His face and ask Him to show mercy to our nation and to teach us to fear Him.

Reminded that we so often in the midst of political changes look to the proximate causes rather than the ultimate cause – namely, the hand of God – let us kneel and confess that we miss the point of these events and fail to grow in our fear of the Lord.