(If this day occurs after December 16, please refer to that date in the
list of devotions.)
Woe to Those Who Go Down to Egypt
Or we should say, “Woe to those who trust in Egypt, who trust in chariots and horses.” Really, the “woe” is upon anyone who trusts in anything but the Lord God Almighty, who does not look to the Holy One of Israel.
Like yesterday, the enemy is Assyria – that fierce nation just northeast of Judah that was racking up nations like billiard balls. They were one of the first major world powers, and they were knocking at Judah’s door. (As I said yesterday, you can find the historical account in chapters 36-37.) So, tiny Judah was looking for help. They were no match for Assyria. They were a long way from the glory days of Kings David and Solomon. Because of their faithlessness to the Lord over the last two or more centuries, they had been reduced to an insignificant kingdom that lay on a very significant highway between Syria and Egypt. So, they looked to their former slave-masters for help against mighty Assyria.
And this is what offended the Lord so much! They looked to everyone to save them – except the One who could save them. “The Egyptians are man, and not God, and their horses are flesh, and not spirit.” And so the Lord will see to it that Judah’s helper will stumble and fall, as Egypt did before the Assyrians. The Lord Himself would fight for Judah, and He did, and Judah won an amazing victory without even leaving their city walls. And so the Lord would teach them in whom to trust, that they might put away their idols and turn to Him.
And here are we. Time and again we falter on this very thing called “trust.” It is so understandable to cower before a mighty enemy, one we know we can’t beat. And it is so easy to run to worldly powers to equal the giant we are up against. I’m not saying that we can’t ask godly friends for wisdom, and certainly the Church of Jesus Christ is a strong bulwark against any storm. But, ultimately, our trust must be in the Lord our God. It is only He who can promise victory over our enemies – fear, worry, doubt, lust, our various passions and cravings of the flesh, addictions of every sort – these are the enemies that the Lord wants to defeat in us and through us. These are our idols, and as Christians, we rightfully hate them. We want them out of our lives because we know that they do not belong in a body inhabited by the Holy Spirit. And it is exactly at this point that we place ourselves upon His altar, allowing Him to crucify our flesh (the sinful nature), trusting in His abundant mercy to heal and forgive. Only he who wounds us can heal us.