The Truth About Falsehood.
Isaiah 15-16, 2 Peter 2
They promise freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption. For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved. – 2 Peter 2:19 ESV
The Israelites were always surrounded by options. When they faced difficulties and trials, there were plenty of places they could turn to for help and hope. If one nation threatened to come against them, there were always other nations with whom they could form alliances and treaties, in the hopes of averting disaster and destruction. But the only problem was that God had intended for them to turn to Him alone for their salvation. They were His people and He was their God. In the book of Isaiah, we see God pronouncing a series of warnings against the nations surrounding Israel. Some of the nations included in God’s oracles were Babylon, Philistia, Moab, Damascus, Cush, and Egypt. There were nations that would prove to be threats to the safety and security of the people of God through conquest. But there were also nations whose main danger came in the form of false hope. They would prove to be tantalizing tests of Israel’s faith, offering them false hope when they found themselves faced with threats to their national security. God wanted the people of Israel to know that He was to be their only source of security. They didn’t need to fear the likes of Babylon. But they also didn’t need to turn to potential allies like Moab. None of these countries could be trusted because they were God-less. Yes, they had their own gods, but they failed to worship the one true God. They were marked by pride and arrogance. They were characterized by self-sufficiency and had their own stable of man-made gods to which they turned. But God makes it clear that “The people of Moab will worship at their pagan shrines, but it will do them no good. They will cry to the gods in their temples, but no one will be able to save them” (Isaiah 16:12 NLT). So why in the world would the people of God every turn to a nation like that for help?
What does this passage reveal about God?
God is sovereign and all-powerful. That is one of the primary points of the book of Isaiah. In this list of oracles pronounced by God on the nations, we get a clear picture of God’s sovereign hand over the nations. He is more powerful than Babylon. He is more trustworthy than Moab or Egypt. He is greater than the greatest enemy of Israel. In fact, God uses these nations to accomplish His divine will. Not a one of them operates outside of His sovereign plan for mankind. In their pride and arrogance, they envision themselves as free-will agents operating on their own initiative, but they are nothing more than pawns in the hands of God. Isaiah knew of Moab’s reputation all too well. “We have heard of the pride of Moab – how proud he is! – of his arrogance, his pride, and his insolence; as his idle boasting he is not right” (Isaiah 16:6 ESV). But he also knew of Moab’s of fate: “the glory of Moab will be brought into contempt, in spite of all his great multitude and those who remain will be very few and feeble” (Isaiah 16:14 ESV). God would cut Moab down to size, just as He would do to Babylon. There was no reason for the people of God to trust in Moab. That nation would prove to be a false source of hope and help. God was to be their salvation. He was the one to whom they were to turn in times of need.
What does this passage reveal about man?
But the temptation will always exist to seek out false sources of salvation. God’s people will always find a steady supply of alternative forms of help and hope. It was as true in the early church as it was in the days of Isaiah. Peter reminds his readers that in the Old Testament “false prophets also arose among the people” (2 Peter 2:1 ESV). But then he adds the warning, “just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction” (2 Peter 2:1 ESV). In the Old Testament there were always plenty of false prophets who made a habit of offering alternative forms of “truth.” They claimed to speak for God, but were actually contradicting the very words of God. They offered false hope. They gave faulty advice. And in the early days of the New Testament church, there were plenty of false teachers who were guilty of doing the same thing. Peter described them as being driven by sensuality, marked by greed and false words, insatiable for sin, irrational, despising authority, and destined for destruction. He calls them “waterless springs and mists driven by the storm” (2 Peter 2:17 ESV). They are false sources of sustenance. They can’t provide what they claim to offer. And yet, there is always the temptation to turn to them as sources of help and hope. Yet Peter warns: “They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption” (2 Peter 2:19 ESV).
How would I apply what I’ve read to my own life?
The world in which we live is full of false hope. It offers up a steady diet of false forms of help. As the people of God we are to seek Him only. We are to turn to Him in our times of need. But there will always be the temptation to find other forms of salvation. Peter warns us that those who offer up falsehood “entice unsteady souls” (2 Peter 2:14 ESV). They prey on those who are not grounded in the truth of God. Those who don’t know the truth will always be susceptible to falsehood. They will always be easy targets for those who offer up counterfeit gods and alternative sources of hope. That is why Peter spent so much time warning his audience. He wanted them to understand the dangers. He wanted them to seek God alone. In fact, he reminded them, “the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials” (2 Peter 2:9 ESV). We must never lose sight of the fact that God is our sole source of salvation. He is the only place we can turn to for truth. We are surrounded by lies and constantly offered up false forms of hope. But we must place our trust in God alone. He alone can rescue. He alone can save. He alone can provide the help we need as we live out our lives on this planet. “God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble” (Psalm 46:1 NLT).
Father, You are my help and hope. Never let me seek salvation from another source. I know I do and for that I ask forgiveness. Keep me coming back to You. Help me to learn that You alone can be trusted. You alone can save. You alone can provide what I need to live the life You have called me to live. Amen
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men