God Appeals to Reason

Isaiah 30.21

Sermon by Dr Peter Masters

Before conversion, the claims of God mean nothing to us, but when God’s Word speaks to our hearts, the challenge becomes inescapable. Self-searching begins, and the kindness of God’s forgiving love is grasped as never before. Here is God’s reasoning with souls.

‘And thine ears shall hear a word behind these saying This is the way: Walk ye in it, When you turn to the right hand and when you turn to the left.

And the title that I have this evening is ‘God Appeals to reason.’   This is a remarkable passage of scripture and by way of introduction I’m going to conduct you very quickly through from the very first verse in the chapter: ‘woe to the rebellious children said the Lord that take counsel but not of me and protect themselves with a covering but not of my spirit, that they may add sin to sin.

The land of Judah was under serious threat. There was invasion from the north, from the Assyrian Emperor and the people who were in a very godless state and condition would not listen to Isaiah the prophet, or fellow prophets or anyone else. They did not want to pray. They could not bring themselves to trust the Lord and so they had done what was a forbidden thing for their nation and they had decided to send ambassadors down to Egypt to solicit their help, that they would send an army and they would pay for it to protect them from Assyrian invasion.

The extraordinary thing was that the Egyptians had themselves just suffered a heavy defeat from the Assyrian army,  but nevertheless in desperation good King Hezekiah is persuaded by his counsellors to go and to send for this help from Egypt, and so Isaiah gives these words of condemnation for this, and in verse 2 the condemnation is for those who go down into Egypt and have not ‘asked at my mouth’ – have not prayed to the Lord, to strengthen themselves in the trust of Pharaoh and to trust in the shadow of Egypt.

What an interesting expression Egypt is – just a shadow of what she used to be and yet they’d rather take a great risk and trust in a defeated nation than they would pray to God for help and for all his promised help. ‘Therefore shall the strength of Pharaoh be your shame.’ The thing that you trust in as being strong will let you down and the trust in the shadow of Egypt (which is a sarcastic way of describing Egypt by the prophet Isaiah) will be your confusion.