On What Do You Rest This Trust Of Yours?
It seems to me that the overarching call of the Bible is to trust God. Simple right? I mean, how difficult can it be to look to Jesus and trust his purposes for our life? He has been so good to us over and over again. Not trusting him sounds like such a foolish decision, doesn't it? Yet, how many times have circumstances come into your life and before you know it, you are responding in ways that make plain and simple that you aren't trusting Jesus? Maybe it's a boss treating you unfairly. Maybe it's the hurry to settle for any relationship because you aren't getting any younger. Maybe it's the difficulty of another day at home with the kids where they seem unified around making your life miserable. Whatever it is for you, trusting the Lord isn't all that simple is it? In Isaiah 36, the book takes a turn from proverbial and poetic type prose and moves us into a historical situation. The Assyrians are waging war on the people of God and King Hezekiah is confronted with the option of trusting the Lord or trusting a military general from Assyria. And the truth is, Assyria has defeated everyone they enter into battle with and Hezekiah's people are small in number. His eyes see a bigger and more powerful army, his ears hear of all the victory Assyria has had over surrounding nations (36:18-20). The evidence shows that Hezekiah stands no chance against Assyria. But then, the Assyrian general taunts Hezekiah with a question that gets to the root of this section of Isaiah, which is also a question we must answer. He says,
"Thus says the great king, the king of Assyria: On what do you rest this trust of yours?" (36:4)
When our circumstances threaten our livelihood, where do we rest our trust? Do we turn to control? Do we explode in anger? Do we turn inward with self-pity? Hezekiah sees and hears of potential defeat, but his response is worthy of learning from. "As soon as King Hezekiah heard it, he tore his clothes and covered himself with sackcloth and went into the house of the LORD" (37:1). The king sprinted into God's presence. Then, in a moment of knowing his weakness before the mighty King of kings, Hezekiah cries out for help (37:15-20). The whole prayer is so helpful, but verse 20 gives us a picture into the heart of Hezekiah:
"So now, O LORD our God, save us from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you alone are the LORD."
God ends up hearing Hezekiah's prayer and throws the Assyrians in to a mass confusion (37:36-38). But don't miss the main point of all of this: King Hezekiah wasn't trusting in God to merely escape bad circumstances. He didn't pray to the Lord to manipulate him into getting a better life, more obedient kids, or a raise at work. His trust was anchored in God's name being glorified above all other kings and kingdoms. This was freeing to Hezekiah and is meant to free us as well. As Ray Ortlund writes,
"Happiness is God being God to you. That is Christianity. If you'll trust God's goodness enough to pray for his triumph, he'll give you everything you long for in your own deepest intentions. The way we respond to our challenges determines whether we will confirm the world's suspicions that Christianity is just another selfish power trip or whether we will surprise them by proving that Christianity is about finding in the glory of Christ everything desirable, though it means we remove self from the center and erect his cross there" (Ortlund, Isaiah: God Saves Sinners, 217).
In short, Ortlund and Isaiah are calling us to trust the One who erected his cross on a hill to draw men, women, and children to himself. That's what God was looking forward to in 37:35 when he said, "For I will defend this city to save it, for my own sake and for the sake of my servant David." Jesus came into hostile territory and trusted his Father in the face of evil. He did not do it to save his own skin but to erect the fame of his Father. He was not saved the way God saved Hezekiah that day. But he laid down his life to save people who forget how trustworthy he is. And now, we look to him again and by trusting in him in the midst of tough circumstances, we actually erect a cross where we work, live, and play that serves to glorify and lift high the name of the Lord. So, the question remains, "On what do you rest this trust of yours?" (Isa. 36:4) -Pastor Wes