May 30, 2017 • Life for Leaders
In that day people will look to their Maker and turn their eyes to the Holy One of Israel. They will not look to the altars, the work of their hands, and they will have no regard for the Asherah poles and the incense altars their fingers have made.
Isaiah 17 looks ahead to the judgment of Damascus, including the northern kingdom of Israel. Because of Israel’s unfaithfulness, “the glory of Jacob will fade” (17:4). The land will be devastated and only a few people will remain (17:5-6). Finally, after experiencing so much suffering, the people of God will no longer “look to their altars, the work of their hands” (17:8). They will not turn their eyes to “gods” made of human hands. Instead, “In that day people will look to their Maker and turn their eyes to the Holy One of Israel” (17:7).
Have you ever experienced something like this? You make choices in your life that seem to advance your own cause. You trust in what you have done, in your plans, in your cleverness, in your own hard work. For a while all seems well, but then the results of your actions begin to crash upon you like waves during a storm. As you are battered, you realize the folly of your ways. Then, and only then, do you turn your eyes to God, looking for help to the only one who can save you. Is this story at all familiar to you?
It is to me. Though I have never intentionally worshipped handmade gods, I have trusted in my own strength or intelligence. I have turned my eyes away from the Lord, putting my confidence in that which I can contrive. Yes, it is good for me to use the gifts and talents God has given me. But my ultimate trust should be in the Lord, not in his gifts, and surely not in myself.
How amazing that God continues to pursue us even when we turn our eyes away from him! We, out of need or even in desperation, look and God is there for us. When we call out, he hears. When we cry out for mercy, he reveals himself to us as a God who is rich in mercy (Eph 2:4). God is, in the language of Isaiah, God our “Savior” (17:10). The more we experience God’s goodness to us, the more we will remember to look to him for vision, wisdom, strength, and help.
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:
Have you ever played out this story in your own life? When?
What finally led you to look to your Creator, rather than yourself or some other “savior”?
What happened when you turned to the Lord for help?
Gracious God, when I read this chapter I think of the times I’ve charged out to seek my own ways, yet leaving you in the dust. For a while all seems fine, but then reality catches up with me and I am miserable. So I turn to you “just as I am, without one plea.” And you are there for me! You haven’t abandoned me, though I abandoned you. Your grace is plentiful; your mercy rich.
Yes, sometimes cleaning up the mess of my sinful choices isn’t pleasant. But your presence and power make all the difference in the world. How I thank you for your gracious salvation!
But, Lord, what I wish is that I would look to you, not after the mess, but before it, so that I might walk in your ways each and every day. Let this be so, even today! Amen.
Explore more at the Theology of Work Project online commentary: Why Forgive Someone Who Wronged You? Part 2
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.