Read Isaiah 36
Focus on verse 4
When someone we trust betrays us, it can be a very difficult process to regain that trust. If that person repeatedly breaks their word it makes it almost impossible. In our human relationships trust is earned as we prove that we are trustworthy. When we keep the promises we make, when we are faithful in fulfilling our responsibilities to people that trust us with consistency, we earn the trust of those who know us. Trust is intrinsically tied to relationship because without some semblance of relationship we have no basis upon which to trust. For instance, I might be the most trustworthy person around, but if I am a complete stranger to you, you would likely be hesitant to trust me to watch over your valuables while you take a nap. There are situations where we choose to trust in the absence of relationship such as when we end up in an emergency ward and trust a complete stranger to save our life. In that scenario we choose to trust the reputation of the professional doctors and nurses who work in the emergency ward despite the fact that there is no relationship. Typically by the time the emergency event is over some level of relationship has been established, which either verifies our trust or breaks it.
In today’s reading Isaiah describes how the king of Assyria invaded the nation of Judah set up the siege of the City of Jerusalem. In the initial parlay the king of Assyria sends a message to King Hezekiah which begins as follows: “Say to Hezekiah, ‘Thus says the great king, the king of Assyria: On what do you rest this trust of yours?” (v. 4)
Hezekiah was one of the few later kings who actually did his best to lead the people to worship the Lord by outlawing the worship of idols and destroying many of the pagan alters and images. He restored the temple and called the people to bring sacrifices at the appointed feasts and holy days. The king of Assyria sought to undermine the trust that Hezekiah had in the Lord in hopes that the people would choose to surrender the city in exchange for their lives. As it turns out – it seems the people chose to trust the word of Hezekiah rather than the words of the king of Assyria. As the story unfolds in the chapters to come we will discover that, while it was a difficult choice, it ultimately was the right one to trust in Lord rather than the Assyrians.
This type of scenario where our trust in the Lord is tested is not just ancient history. To this day the Lord presents those who follow Him with opportunities to trust Him. These usually come with an alternative offered to us by the enemy of our souls who is hoping that we will surrender quietly. Often he makes similar promises to us attempting to convince us that our life will be easier and more secure if we follow him instead of the Lord. We must remember in times such as this that it is the nature of the enemy to lie. He will promise us whatever he thinks we want to hear knowing full well that he has no intention of keeping his word. The Lord, on the other hand, will always tell us the truth – even when it is not what we want to hear because it is His nature to be truthful. He is, by His own admission, “the Way, the Truth, and the Life”, and no one gains access to the Father except through Him.
Following Jesus for us is much like it was for Hezekiah and the people of Jerusalem to trust God. It often involves choosing the more difficult path, but when we get to the end of it and look back, we see that it was worth enduring the hardship to avoid the pain and deception of the alternative.
It comes back to relationship. The more closely we walk with the Lord, the more intimately we know Him, the more readily we will trust Him when He calls us to do hard things. If we have a distant relationship or no relationship with the Lord, we will be hesitant to trust Him particularly when He calls us to make difficult choices. The bottom line is – we tend to trust the people we know. So the question worth asking then becomes, “who do you trust?”