Do I ack the strength to rescue you? This is a question that the LORD Almighty asks, through Prophet Isaiah, to the Israelites in the beginning of Chapter 50; the verses are given below.
1This is what the Lord says: “Where is your mother’s certificate of divorce with which I sent her away? Or to which of my creditors did I sell you? Because of your sins you were sold; because of your transgressions your mother was sent away.
2When I came, why was there no one? When I called, why was there no one to answer? Was my arm too short to deliver you? Do I lack the strength to rescue you? By a mere rebuke I dry up the sea, I turn rivers into a desert; their fish rot for lack of water and die of thirst. 3I clothe the heavens with darkness and make sackcloth its covering.” (Isaiah 50, 1-3)
As you know; ancient Israelites were in constant rebellion against God Almighty throughout its history. Though He warned them repeatedly through His Servants; they still continued in their rebellion.
As it is evident in the writings of the Prophets; the Israelites were living in neck-deep idolatry and Baal Worship; and the land was full of bloodshed and injustice.
The following verses in Isaiah 1 give us a clear picture of this sinful lifestyle of the Israelites.
1The vision concerning Judah and Jerusalem that Isaiah son of Amoz saw during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, kings of Judah. 2Hear me, you heavens! Listen, earth! For the Lord has spoken: “I reared children and brought them up, but they have rebelled against me.
3The ox knows its master, the donkey its owner’s manger, but Israel does not know, my people do not understand.” 4Woe to the sinful nation, a people whose guilt is great, a brood of evildoers, children given to corruption! They have forsaken the Lord; they have spurned the Holy One of Israel and turned their backs on him. (Isaiah 1, 1- 4)
Finally, the LORD, when He could not bear their rebellion anymore, hands them over to their enemies who oppressed and suppressed them mercilessly. The following verses illustrate well their miserable life in the hands of their enemies.
5Why should you be beaten anymore? Why do you persist in rebellion? Your whole head is injured, your whole heart afflicted. 6From the sole of your foot to the top of your head there is no soundness— only wounds and welts and open sores, not cleansed or bandaged or soothed with olive oil.
7Your country is desolate, your cities burned with fire; your fields are being stripped by foreigners right before you, laid waste as when overthrown by strangers. 8Daughter Zion is left like a shelter in a vineyard, like a hut in a cucumber field, like a city under siege. (Isaiah 1, 5-8)
Well, now the Israelites, while living through the miseries inflicted on them by their enemies, begin to ask the LORD Almighty – why they were mercilessly exposed to so much sufferings in the hands of their enemies.
Like, many of us, they too start to complain and blame God for their sufferings. However, the LORD, through Prophet Isaiah, answers them loud and clear and we see the answer in the following verses.
1This is what the Lord says: “Where is your mother’s certificate of divorce with which I sent her away? Or to which of my creditors did I sell you? Because of your sins you were sold; because of your transgressions your mother was sent away. (Isaiah 50, 1)
As is evident in the above verses; The LORD says:
It was because of their sins that they were sold; because of their transgressions their mother was sent away and it was not because the LORD lacked the strength to rescue them from the hands of their enemies.
Yes, the sins of the Israelites were the main reason why they ended up in the hands of their enemies. Nothings else.
Well, here, you might wonder what we, believers in Christ, can learn from these Israelites.
As you know, many of us, at times go through hardships in life and sometimes they can be very overwhelming and there could be many reasons for these hardships.
Sometimes they can be because of our own foolishness; sometimes they can be the consequences of someone else’s actions and finally it can also be the result of our own sinful, rebellious lifestyle.
Saints; please remember – like the Israelites, once we were also slaves of a Pharaoh called the Devil. We lived in bondage to sin and rebellion. However, the LORD Almighty heard our groaning and came down to deliver us. He saved us and brought us into the promised land and made us heirs to His Heavenly Kingdom.
But the story does not end there; it only begins: Once we become the citizens of His Kingdom; he expects us to live in obedience to His Commandments. He called and separated us from the world in order to be our God.
As the above verses say – the LORD brought us out of Egypt to be our God. But when we live in rebellion and disobedience; we are not allowing the LORD Almighty to be our God; which can also lead to very serious consequences.
For example; it might force the LORD Almighty to remove His hands of protection from our lives which in turn will open the door for the enemy to come into our lives and torture us.
So, sin in our lives might be opening the doors for the enemy to come in and oppress us; sadly, we are often blind about this fact. We might in turn, without hesitation, blame God for all the ills in our life.
If you look around; you will find that many of the believers in Christ are going through tremendous hardships. Their families are in dis-integration; their ministries are facing insurmountable problems. However, they still think there is nothing wrong with their faith life.
But in reality, the reason for their ills might be that – they are living in disobedience to God’s Commandments. Instead of obeying the voice of God; they are obeying the voice of their enemy.
Saints; going to church on Sunday and taking part in ministry activities do not make you a good Christian. What matters to God is only your obedience; nothing else. See what He says to the Israelites in Isaiah 1.
11“The multitude of your sacrifices— what are they to me?” says the Lord. “I have more than enough of burnt offerings, of rams and the fat of fattened animals; I have no pleasure in the blood of bulls and lambs and goats.
12When you come to appear before me, who has asked this of you, this trampling of my courts? 13Stop bringing meaningless offerings! Your incense is detestable to me. New Moons, Sabbaths and convocations— I cannot bear your worthless assemblies.
14Your New Moon feasts and your appointed festivals I hate with all my being. They have become a burden to me; I am weary of bearing them. 15When you spread out your hands in prayer, I hide my eyes from you; even when you offer many prayers, I am not listening. (Isaiah 1, 11-15)
Yes, The LORD Almighty does not want your sacrifices and festivals; He has a trillion Holy Beings around His throne to worship and Praise HIM. What He wants from you is obedience and justice.
Your hands are full of blood! 16Wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight; stop doing wrong. 17Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow. (Isaiah 1, 16-17)
Yes, He wants you to do what is just and right in His eyes. He wants you to stop doing wrong. Then the LORD will fight your enemies and turn them back on their way. Then you will spend your days in victory and not in defeat.
6“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? 7Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter— when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
8Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness a will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard. 9Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.( Isaiah 58, 6-9)
Saints; we live in a fallen world among fallen human beings. This journey on earth is a mix of joy and pain. However, for the children of God’ there is a place of refuge; that is – at the Christ. He steps in each time when we go through difficulties and bring us out from them; He will not let those difficulties over-power us or overwhelm us.
But there are times when they can become overwhelming and extremely dangerous and they may not go away no matter how hard we pray or fight spiritually.
When we come into a state as this; then, we need to examine our spiritual life to find if there is any area that we are living in disobedience to God’s Commandments; if there is any area where the walls have been broken because of disobedience and repair those breaches.
Please Remember what the LORD says:
1Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear.
2But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.