In chapter 19, Isaiah talks about God’s handling of Egypt. We see Egypt getting a thrashing so to speak. Brother fighting brother, a loss of heart, confusion of plans, cruel leadership, a flood followed by drought, despair, weakness, and fear all precede a time when Egypt will follow God, and an altar to God will rest in the very heart of the country. God will be worshipped there. Wow!
Verse 22 says, “The Lord will strike Egypt, and then he will bring healing. For the Egyptians will turn to the Lord, and he will listen to their pleas and heal them.” How about us? Does God strike us from time to time in order to bring healing into our lives? When we get stubborn, God will send his grace to keep us from continuing down a wrong path. Consider Jonah. Is it possible that the big fish was God’s grace, not God’s punishment? Jonah had been thrown overboard into a stormy sea complete with raging winds and waves. I don’t know if you’ve ever watched the show Deadliest Catch, but the sea can get terrifyingly rough. In Jonah’s case it was so rough that the sailors feared for their lives. No man could survive seas like that, but God sent a fish to swallow him up and preserve his life. Could it be that God will send calamity on Egypt in order to save it?
I am reminded of a time a while back, when my nephew had made some very wrong choices. He was in possession of a vehicle that he did not own which he had taken without permission. He was out of cash and nearly out of gas. My mom, his grandmother, called the police in the town where my nephew was stranded. She knew that he would face arrest, but it was out of love for him that she made that call. She also knew that he was in trouble and perhaps that call would get him the help that he needed. He did go through a few more rough spots, but is currently doing well.
Sometimes God send storms, or hardship our way because he knows that it will bring us to a dependence on him and a place of his grace. If only we’d yield to his plan and serve him without the hardships, but some of us have to learn things the hard way just as we may see in our own children. The natural consequences of life can sometimes teach us the best lessons, but when we are stubborn and set in our sinful ways, we may need to be broken before God can bring healing.
I can’t help but focus on verses 11-15. Perhaps because I’ve heard so many people say, “Christians are hypocrites.” From time to time, they are right. Sometimes Christians are hypocrites, but so are others who do not walk the Christian walk. Peter was exhibiting hypocrisy and Paul called him on it. He didn’t do so through gossip or behind his back. He didn’t sneak off in the dark of night and tell the church leaders. He didn’t hold a secret board meeting and try to oust Peter out of his position. Instead he went straight to Peter and opposed him to his face. I like that! Paul had courage to face his brother head on and hold him accountable.
We need relationships like this in our lives, but many of us are too busy and / or too afraid to allow someone that close. But imagine the growth we could have if we allowed a close Christian the freedom to call us on the carpet when we needed it.
I have a relationship like that with my sister-in-law. I love her to pieces. I can be transparent with her and totally honest about where I am, what I’m thinking, and what I’m feeling. I know she’ll listen and love me, but I also know that if she sees something awry in my life, she’ll call me on it. I’ve had deeper spiritual conversations with her than anyone else because we’ve built a relationship of trust and love. I know that when she speaks to me about a tough area in my life, she is doing so, not out of judgment, but because she loves me and cares about my walk with God.
It would be unrealistic to expect to have this kind of relationship with just anyone, but it would be good if there were at least one person in your life that you would allow to hold your feet to the fire when needed.