Going Down to Egypt for Help

I didn’t intend to broach this topic again, at least so soon. However, an event recorded in Scripture was recently brought to mind, and its lesson is so pertinent that it bears some examination and contemplation.

The Setting

The date is  720 B.C. The world’s power, the Assyrian army has just fully captured the territory of Israel, and has taken the northern 10 tribes captive. This great power of the north will soon threaten and take control over the fortified cities of Judah, demanding that King Hezekiah pay a massive tribute. However, even the gold and silver from King Hezekiah’s treasury and the Lord’s temple will not be enough. The Assyrian king Sennacherib will soon send his army against Jerusalem to destroy and conquer Judah just as they have sacked all of Israel.

At this point the ambition of the Assyrians is clear. Judah, despite all her concessions, will soon face the choice of complete submission and servitude, or resisting and facing the anger of the world’s greatest military force. The Judean army is clearly no match for that of the massively powerful Assyrians.

The Strategy

How could Judah best defend herself in the face of such a formidable foe? The options seemed very few. As the old saying goes, desperate times call for desperate measures. One particular strategy, although somewhat unconventional, gained traction and seemed as if it would serve to provide some answers to Judah’s dire situation.

It was clear that the Assyrian army, having their capitol in Ninevah, would invade and attack from the north. There was, however, an old familiar military power situated to the south. If an alliance could be made with the Egyptians, perhaps the power of their combined armies might be a match for Assyria. Granted, the history between Egypt and Israel had some definite rough edges. Yes, it was the Egyptians that had put Jacob’s children in servitude for 400 years, and had driven their chariots into the middle of the Red Sea in order to prevent their slaves from escaping. Yes, way back in Moses’ day, God had instructed that they were not to turn back that way again.

However, those Egyptian horses and chariots were looking pretty imperative at this point. Those were powerful tools in warfare, and the Egyptians had a well-known reputation for their use. If they were willing to fight alongside Judah, they would certainly provide a formidable military strength. It was not as if they were considering a permanent trade agreement, or becoming permanent allies. It was not as if they would even pretend to agree on many points. This would be a temporary alliance, which realistically could provide benefits for both parties. And the most important consideration was that this was a necessary alliance. This was for the survival of Judah. This was for the preservation of the land which the Lord had given them, and the freedom to worship Him as He had commanded. Certainly Jehovah could not fault them for choosing the only realistic solution to deliver His own chosen people, could He?

God’s Reaction

Isaiah 31 records for us the Lord’s message to His people and His response to this plan:

Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help

And rely on horses,

And trust in chariots because they are many

And in horsemen because they are very strong,

But they do not look to the Holy One of Israel, nor seek the LORD!

Yet He also is wise and will bring disaster

And does not retract His words,

But will arise against the house of evildoers

And against the help of the workers of iniquity.

Now the Egyptians are men and not God,

And their horses are flesh and not spirit;

So the LORD will stretch out His hand,

And he who helps will stumble

And he who is helped will fall,

And all of them will come to an end together.

Isaiah 31:1-3

This seems a bit harsh, doesn’t it? Not only does he disagree with their plan, but He pronounces a woe (or curse) upon them, prophesying their eventual destruction! This judgement came because the people were seeking deliverance from the hand of man, and not from Him. God reprimands them for putting their trust and hope in fleshly things, when they should have been relying solely upon Him for their help (Isa. 30:1-5)! You see, God doesn’t give a pass for the “difficult circumstance”. Instead those circumstances are what God uses to try our resolve and see where our hope truly rests.

Down to Romney for Help

In our current political climate, Christians are at that point of desperation, where desperate measures need to be taken. The candidate that most looked upon with derision during the primary is now the one whom they are relying upon to rid them of the oppression of Obama and his policies which endanger our nation and our freedom. The disagreements upon policy and religion are duly noted, but deemed to be better than that of the alternative. The prevailing winds dictate that an uneasy alliance must be forged, however temporarily, in order to free us from the greater danger.

Romney is the only “horse in the race” that has a chance of winning. To refuse to make this alliance, would, we are told, be in effect to relinquish our duty to country and bring upon us a greater evil. Any other course of action would be to leave the fight and give the battle to the enemy. The arguments and reasoning used to justify the alliance are almost never based upon principles of the Word and faith in our Lord, but upon our own reasoning and in response to our fear of man!

Breaking the Curse

It is time that we stop acting like the rebellious children of Judah. It is time that we stop justifying our choices under the guise of the “greater good”. It is time that we stop relying upon flesh to save us from our troubles. It is time that we stop trusting in a “lesser evil” man to help us rather than our Almighty Savior and Defender! When will Christians awake from their stupor? How long will we stay under the curse of God (Jer. 17:5-6)? When will we stop trying to defend the actions that incite God’s anger as wise and prudent?!

It seems ridiculous to even say this, but our duty must always be to God first of all. We are not acting to the detriment of our nation when we are acting on principle and humbling ourselves in prayer. Yes, we are called to be warriors, and to be engaged in the battle. But we must remember that

Though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.

II Corinthians 10:3-5

It is only when we stop relying upon God completely and put our hope in man that we are out of the battle! A Christian warrior is impotent without complete dependency on God (Ps. 20:7; Jer. 17:7-8). Our armor for the fight belongs to God. It is with His armor we engage in battle (Eph. 6:10-18)!

God does not need nor want us to throw our support behind Romney nor any man for the purpose of expediency. These actions are not required of us! He is not desirous for us to “do [a lesser] evil, that good may come” (Rom. 3:8, commentary mine). If we truly desire to win the battle, we must acknowledge that the battle is His, not ours (II Chron. 20:15 ff). Our Lord is not interested in the victories we can win for Him. Victory will be His, not ours (Ps. 98:1; I Cor. 15:57; I Jn. 5:4)!

Yes, Assyrians will come. They came and camped against Jerusalem with a great and mighty army (II Chron 32:1). Despite this, Israel gained the victory. What was the ingenious strategy employed to win the battle? The answer is complete reliance upon God in the face of impossible circumstances (Isa. 37:15-20) and the mentality demonstrated in  II Chron. 32:7-8:

Be strong and courageous, do not fear or be dismayed because of the king of Assyria nor because of all the horde that is with him; for the one with us is greater than the one with him. With him is only an arm of flesh, but with us is the LORD our God to help us and to fight our battles.

The account of the victory is detailed in Isaiah 37:36-37:

Then the angel of the LORD went out and struck 185,000 in the camp of the Assyrians; and when men arose early in the morning, behold, all of these were dead. So Sennacherib king of Assyria departed and returned home and lived at Nineveh.

All of this without one solitary Egyptian.

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