I rely on electricity far too much. I never realize that truth until the power goes out because of a storm or a squirrel frying himself on a generator. No electricity is exciting for about 3 minutes. Then we all just blankly stare at one another wondering what to do with ourselves. No television. No video games. No lights. No radio. No computer. No internet. No power saws. Nothing.
That is until I remember that my iPad runs off of battery. Even though my internet connection is down I still have 3G. If I am lucky I will have a few precious hours before my battery dies. If I can just hold off until the power comes back on. This leads me to conclude that if the man hands you a blackout you kick him in the shin, laugh, and say, “Forgot about my iPad didn’t you?” The man can’t keep you down if you’ve got a stellar backup plan.
I wonder, though, if sometimes our backup plans might get in the way of repentance. That is what happened with the northern kingdom in Isaiah’s day. Disaster strikes them but its okay they have a backup plan.
“The bricks have fallen, but we will build with dressed stones; the sycamores have been cut down, but we will put cedars in their place.” –Isaiah 9:10
God takes away their bricks and they say, “I’ve still got my stones”. When calamity strikes they never consider the need for repentance or “inquiring of the LORD of hosts.” (9:13) Instead they check their supply closet and pull out their backups. “Nice try, Lord, but you seem to have forgotten about our cedar collection.” Rather than considering repentance they run to another idol to find fulfillment.
Sadly, I am not that much different at times. There have been numerous times in my life when the Lord has brought profound sadness or disappointment. It’s a supremely loving thing for the Lord to do that, by the way. He will not allow me to find satisfaction in these lesser lovers. But my rebellion can run so deep that instead of repentance and returning to Yahweh I assume that what I really need is a shinier idol to appease me. One idol fails me and so I try to replace it with a different one.
Our rebellion goes so deep that the Lord has to shame every potential idol. He will have to not only take away brick and sycamore but he will also have to lay bare our stones and our cedars. This is why Israel was laid bare. And it is why so often our walk with Christ we have to be laid bare.
As I think through Israel’s rebellion, and my own, two things come to mind. First, I am very grateful that the Lord is relentless in His pursuit of my redemption. As Isaiah 9:7 proclaims, it is the “zeal of the LORD of hosts” that He will bring about rescue through His Messiah. I am grateful that He is more passionate about my sanctification than I am.
Secondly, when the Lord exposes idols and rips them from my hands I want to run to Him instead of on a shameful quest to find a new idol. When disappointment and suffering comes into my life I want my first response to be an inquiry of the LORD of hosts and not a plundering of my supply closet. I want to set all my affections upon the LORD without having any backup plan.