“Lean on the Lord and find the path that leads to perfect peace.”
Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – April 1, 2023
In that day the remnant of Israel and the survivors of the house of Jacob will no more lean on him who struck them, but will lean on the Lord, the Holy One of Israel, in truth. Isaiah 10:20, ESV
Though they are meant to be God’s chosen and set apart people, living in perfect relationship with him and one another, the people of God throughout the Bible find themselves living under the oppression of foreign rule, a conquered people who have lost the freedom to live in the light of God’s perfect love. This pattern of rebellion and return is found throughout the Old Testament Narrative, from Egypt to Assyria to Babylon, God allows his people to be subjected to foreign rule as a direct result of their failure to abide by his ways.
In many ways, these ancient stories couldn’t be further removed from our modern lives and experiences of faith. We do not live as a nation under the direct guidance of God, nor do we have a divinely appointed king. Similarly, few of us spend our days worried about the threat of conquest and forced subjugation to a foreign ruler. And yet I wonder, might there be more in common than what first meets the eye?
As a conquered people, by necessity, Israel was required to “lean” on their oppressors. They were no longer free and therefore lacked the ability to provide for themselves. They did what they were told and thus survived. Though our oppressors may not be as easy to identify, we must daily ask ourselves the question: what has conquered me?
We rarely frame our day-to-day existence in this way, but it may be increasingly helpful to explore areas in which you are no longer free but instead a slave to outside forces or internal desires. Many of us “lean on” the global financial system, looking to it as our source of security and prosperity. Often we are conquered by our passions, whether it is a distorted sexual longing, a raging temper, or an unchecked desire for mindless entertainment. And though it takes many shapes and forms, fear is a particularly cruel master, for it causes us to retreat and shrink away from opportunities that call for bold courage.
Whatever may have you conquered, Isaiah’s words are an invitation into a life of freedom and dependence, however paradoxical that may sound. For the Christian, freedom is never absolute autonomy but is found in a life of unwavering dependence upon the goodness of God. We lean on the Lord and, in so doing, find the path that leads to perfect peace.
Father, help me to see ways that my heart is enslaved to my own passions and desires, and set me free to be fully dependent upon you, through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Prayerfully reflect on this question today: “What has conquered me?”
Matt Maher: Lord, I Need You
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