When I received my training for teaching children, my instructor taught me that if you really want to get a point across, you should repeat it at least three times. The first time, they’re usually not really listening, the second time, they’re kind of listening, but by the third time, it’ll most likely stick. With some children, though, even that’s not enough. 🙂
Anyway, three times certainly wasn’t enough for the people of Judah. Under king Hezekiah, son of Ahaz, they continually sought alliances with Egypt in order to keep Assyria at bay. King Hezekiah was a good king (one of the best ever in Judah, actually, as we will see later), but there were times during his reign when he faltered in his faith. And instead of trusting God, he put his trust in his military alliances.
Time and again Isaiah warned him against this. In chapter 20, Isaiah even goes so far as to walk around naked for around three years. (Whether fully naked or not, I’m not sure. I hope not.) This was to be a sign of what would happen to the very people Hezekiah was trusting in. That they would be taken as captives by Assyria, and that Judah and anyone else who put their trust in Egypt would also be put to shame.
In chapter 30, Isaiah warns them again, and calls Hezekiah and the people obstinate for going through with their alliance with Egypt, saying,
Woe to the obstinate children…to those who carry out plans that are not mine, forming an alliance, but not by my Spirit, heaping sin put sin; who go down to Egypt without consulting me; who look for help to Pharaoh’s protection, to Egypt’s shade for refuge. (30:1-2)
Finally, in chapter 31, he warns them that Egypt will fall, and that if Judah continued to cling to this alliance, they would fall right along with them.
It was only when Hezekiah came to the end of his rope, and Egypt proved to be a “broken reed” that he put his full trust in God. And when he did, God delivered Judah.
The question is, why was he so stubborn? More than that, why are we so stubborn? I really don’t know. Maybe it’s pride; we feel we can deal with our own problems without God. Maybe it’s fear that God won’t come through for us.
But how much better would our lives be if we would just trust God from the start. How much better would it be if we would listen to him the first time and obey him.
Let us not be stubborn. Let us not be obstinate as Hezekiah and the people of Judah were, clinging to their own plans, and sinning in the process. Rather, let us heed the warnings and admonitions of God the first time, and obey him.