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I grew up as a kid watching WWII movies, stories of heroism. The Great Escape. The Dirty Dozen. And when I watch films today where the U.S. military is involved, such as Captain Phillips, I am moved, often to tears. Perhaps having lived abroad as a missionary has made me very aware of the relief I would experience if I needed rescue as a foreigner in a distant land. It is difficult to experience the feeling of home I felt as I walked into U.S. embassies in other countries. It sounds weird, I suppose, because I wasn’t really home. I still resided in a foreign nation. Nevertheless, that is how I felt. I also came to understand the comforting nature of the “golden passport”—the support, the justice, and accompanying power that stands behind that document. Therefore, I am extremely grateful to be an American citizen.

As much as I am thankful for that security, I must not compromise myself as a Christian in order to maintain that wonderful sense of safety that I enjoy.

Not a problem, you say? Very well, but I maintain that we—I—have a problem, and we must talk about it. And to discuss it, we will look at the terrible error made by the people of Israel. We will discover what they did when their survival was in jeopardy and they were in need of a savior.

Tragically, they chose the wrong one.

The Lord was angry with Israel because they had turned away from Him. They were worshipping idols. They made political and military alliances with ungodly countries in order to save themselves. This what the Lord told them, through Isaiah:

“Because this people has refused the waters of Shiloah that flow gently, and rejoice over Rezin and the son of Remaliah, therefore, behold, the Lord is bringing up against them the waters of the River, mighty and many, the king of Assyria and all his glory. And it will rise over all its channels and go over all its banks, and it will sweep on into Judah, it will overflow and pass on, reaching even to the neck, and its outspread wings will fill the breadth of your land, O Immanuel” (Isaiah 8:6–8). 1

By rejecting the “waters of Shiloah,” which represents Jerusalem, Israel had rejected and not trusted in the Lord and His plan of salvation. The references to Rezin, a Syrian monarch, and “the son of Remaliah,” whose name was Pekah, are explained here:

“During this time Rezin seems to have helped Pekah in his successful coup to seize the throne of Israel. Immediately upon his accession to the throne, Pekah formed an anti-Assyrian coalition with Rezin. They soon realized that successful resistance against Assyria required a larger alliance. They invited King Ahaz of Judah to join their coalition, but Ahaz adamantly refused. With the intention of placing an Aramaean of Davidic lineage upon the throne of Judah in order to effect a broader Syrian-Israelite alliance, Rezin and Pekah joined in an attack on Judah.” 2

In other words, Israel participated with a non-Jewish nation in an attack on Judah in order to help insure its survival. That didn’t work. The Lord told them that the king of Assyria would come in like a flood and overwhelmingly defeat them, which he did.

Now, the Church is not physical Israel. It is obviously not a theocracy. But it is spiritual Israel. We are sons of Abraham (Galatians 3:7). Therefore, it is instructive to discover how the Lord expected His people to behave when their survival was threatened, and one of those ways was not to make unholy political alliances in order to save themselves.

A few verses later in this eighth chapter of Isaiah, the Lord said this:

“For the LORD spoke thus to me with his strong hand upon me, and warned me not to walk in the way of this people, saying: ‘Do not call conspiracy all that this people calls conspiracy, and do not fear what they fear, nor be in dread. But the LORD of hosts, him you shall honor as holy. Let him be your fear, and let him be your dread. And he will become a sanctuary and a stone of offense and a rock of stumbling to both houses of Israel, a trap and a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem. And many shall stumble on it. They shall fall and be broken; they shall be snared and taken” (Isaiah 8:11–15).

Christians are not to fear what the world fears or what the unbelieving citizens of the United States fear. He told us that He is to be our fear, yes, even our dread.

But notice where the Lord goes next. He prophesies the coming of a “stone of offense,” a “rock of stumbling.”

This is clearly a prophesy of the coming of their Messiah, Jesus, our King and Savior. Christians are to trust ultimately in Him alone to save us, no matter how uncomfortable, how insecure, how fearful, how dreadful conditions may become in the United States. We must not trust in ungodly political alliances that will compromise us when situations become terrifying. And let me tell you, that is what is going to happen, sooner or later. Judgment is coming.

1All Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

2Elwell, W. A., & Beitzel, B. J. (1988). In Baker encyclopedia of the Bible (p. 1857). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.

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