Horses were a big deal in the Ancient Near East. Horses were a sign of wealth, they were a vehicle for war, they pulled chariots, carried kings. In the book of Deuteronomy, the Lord gave instructions to Moses regarding a king. He knew that one day the people of Israel would want a king just like all the other nations around them. He anticipated it, so he gave them guidelines. This is a portion of what he told Moses:
“The king must not build up a large stable of horses for himself or send his people to Egypt to buy horses, for the Lord has told you, ‘You must never return to Egypt.’Deuteronomy 17:16
I don’t think God had anything against horses – after all, he created them. He was concerned for the hearts of his people. First, horses were a symbol of wealth. He didn’t want anyone to trust in earthly treasures above their trust in Him. Secondly, horses gave an army an advantage over others. Again, God didn’t want his people to trust anyone or anything to deliver them from trouble. Finally, he didn’t want them to return to Egypt, the place that enslaved them for 400 years! He set them free and he wanted them to stay that way.
Fast forward a few hundred years to the prophet Isaiah. Listen to what God says to the people:
This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says:
“Only in returning to me and resting in me will you be saved. In quietness and confidence is your strength. But you would have none of it. You said, ‘No, we will get our help from Egypt.They will give us swift horses for riding into battle.’ But the only swiftness you are going to see is the swiftness of your enemies chasing you!Isaiah 30:15-16
These people were having a hard time trusting God. Life looked difficult around them, perhaps even chaotic. Who knows, maybe there was a pandemic. And when trouble came, the people looked to Egypt.
Egypt was their place of slavery. A place where they were abused, enslaved, mistreated. A place of fear and hardship. And yet they looked to that place for their help. Remember what God told Moses in Deuteronomy? He said he never wanted the people to return to Egypt.
You know what? He doesn’t want me to go back to my places of slavery either. It might be fear, lust, pornography, anxiety, addiction, bitterness, jealousy, unforgiveness and a host of other enslavements. He never wants me to return to my Egypt. But I do. Why? Let’s listen in to the prophet Isaiah again:
This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says:“Only in returning to me and resting in me will you be saved. In quietness and confidence is your strength. But you would have none of it…So the Lord must wait for you to come to him so he can show you his love and compassion. For the Lord is a faithful God. Blessed are those who wait for his help.Deuteronomy 30:15, 18
I return by choice. I don’t believe what God says. I don’t want to wait for his help. So, I go back to Egypt – those beliefs and practices that enslaved me.
But there is hope! So much hope! The Lord is waiting for us to come to him. He wants to pour out his love and compassion. He is faithful and ready, willing and able to help.
Don’t trust in the devices of the world. Don’t be enslaved again in your Egypt. He is waiting for you. It is only in returning to him and resting in him that we will know salvation. I find strength when I wait in quietness and confidence.
How about you join me?