Are You Audacious in Your Trust in the Lord?

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Ed Walsh

Puritan Board Senior
Greetings,

Below is the continuing story of Jerusalem coming to the brink of destruction by the Assyrian army after failing in every attempt to dissuade their attackers by leaning to their own understanding.

King Hezekiah wants a word from God. So, he sends for Isaiah with a message of humble honesty.

“This day is a day of distress, of rebuke, and of disgrace; children have come to the point of birth,
and there is no strength to bring them forth.” (Isaiah 37: 3)​

In other words, “We admit it. We’ve failed. We are not living proof of the reality of God. We’ve produced nothing but exhaustion. We must be delivered, but we have no strength to do it ourselves.”

Hezekiah’s first concern is the honor of God in the world. The king of Assyria is “mock[ing] the living God” (Isaiah 37:4). And Judah is the reason for it. Hezekiah’s heart is breaking for the right reason. That’s when God comes with a word of promise.

“Thus says the Lord: Do not be afraid because of the words that you have heard, with which the young men of the king of Assyria have reviled me.
Behold, I will put a spirit in him, so that he shall hear a rumor and return to his own land, and I will make him fall by the sword in his own land.” (Isaiah 37:6, 7)

“The great king, the king of Assyria” (Isaiah 36:4)—to little Judah, this man was “as if Nature had intended to make a gorilla, and had changed its mind at the last moment.”[5] But how does God handle him? Not by meeting his force with force. God is subtle. He flies in under this man’s radar, enters into his psyche, and changes his mood. God sends him a rumor, a mere whisper, that gets him worried. And Mr. Bigshot picks up, goes home, and is killed in his own place of safety (v. 38). The people of Judah don’t go out and whip the Assyrians by their own force of arms. God does it for them with a spiritual, irresistible strategy. That is how God dispatches the blasphemer who had boasted, “Do you think that mere words are strategy and power for war?” (Isaiah 36:5). The “mere words” of a rumor did him in!

There’s the story. Why is it in the Bible? Why is this in the permanent, public record of God’s Word? Because unbelief still sneers at faith in God, we still lose our nerve, and God is still there to deliver us if we’ll get real with him. He only wants us to trust him with a daring faith.

If no one ever thinks we’re crazy for the way we stick our necks out in trusting the promises of God, are we really living by faith? If no one ever asks us to explain the hope that is in us (1 Peter 3:15), is our hope any different from their hope? Is our Christianity so audacious that it requires nothing less than a religious conversion to enter in? One reason we see so few conversions today is that our Christianity isn’t an alternative to convert to. It’s padded, safe, predictable worldliness with occasional stop-offs at church. We think it’s God’s job to ensure our undisturbed routines. God thinks it’s our job to prove how real he is in the real world today.

We are often weak. But to get fresh courage, we don’t have to look inside ourselves and ask, “How much faith do I have?” We should look to God and ask, “What new step of audacious obedience do you want me to take right now? How can my life be a prophetic statement to my generation that you are a reliable Savior, as you’ve promised?” Thinking in terms of God first, we will find new courage.[6]

A passage like this raises searching questions. For example, do our committees and boards at church make decisions by a bold faith? In our homes, do we raise our children to live with boldness? Personally, when was the last time you made a major decision that was so clearly of God and so clearly not of yourself that your conclusion actually surprised you? Are we shocking anybody by our faith? If God were to show us in one instant the full meaning of living by faith, we might all gasp and say, “Nobody can live that way, not in this world.” That’s why he keeps throwing our lives into upheaval. He wants us to experience what it’s like for him to come through when the only thing that will suffice is what is directly and immediately of God. He wants us to be living proof that he is real, as we dare to treat him as the greatest ally in the universe.

During a time when God was doing a deep work of renewal in the life of Francis Schaeffer, he asked his wife,

“Edith, I wonder what would happen to most churches and Christian work if we awakened tomorrow, and everything concerning the reality and work of the Holy Spirit, and everything concerning prayer, were removed from the Bible. I don’t mean just ignored, but actually cut out—disappeared. I wonder how much difference it would make?” We concluded it would not make much difference in many board meetings, committee meetings, decisions, and activities.[7]​

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[5] P. G. Wodehouse, The Code of the Woosters (Woodstock and New York: The Overlook Press, 2000), p. 20.
[6] Cf. John White, The Fight: The Christian Struggle (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1977), p. 98.
[7] Edith Schaeffer, The Tapestry (Waco, TX: Word Books, 1981), p. 356.

Ortlund, R. C., Jr., & Hughes, R. K. (2005). Isaiah: God saves sinners (pp. 210–211). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.
 
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