A four-year-old boy walked with his grandpa through a thick old-growth forest. The cool shade amidst the towering cedars gave way to sunshine as a clearing appeared. A massive stump sat in the center, and the young child ran and climbed right up. He raised his walking stick above his head and fiercely proclaimed, “I’m the king of the castle, and you’re the dirty rascal!” In a second, he stepped to get down, caught his foot, and crashed into a heap of tears. Grandpa held him close and rubbed his knee.
From king to pauper in a second.
God uses Isaiah to let people know his views on proud kings in castles. And for good reason. The king of Assyria was known to make unjust laws, deprive the poor their rights, prey on widows, and create idols like himself. To show God’s anger toward Assyria, Isaiah forecasts God’s actions metaphorically:
_See, the Lord, the Lord Almighty, will lop off the boughs with great power. The lofty trees will be felled, the tall ones will be brought low. He will cut down the forest thickets with an ax; Lebanon will fall before the Mighty One (Isaiah 10:33-34).
Israelites hearing this may have gained smug satisfaction that God was going to deal with Assyria. However, Isaiah makes clear that God is also warning Israel. He warns, “Shall I [God] not deal with Jerusalem and her images as I dealt with Samaria and her idols” (Isaiah 10:11)?
What I take from these ancient warnings is that God really wants to be number one in our lives because he is the ultimate King, the creator of the world, the redeemer of humankind, and the one to whom glory and honor are due. Any effort we make to puff up ourselves as idols or press down on others with injustice only show that we are paupers falling easily from our stump thrones.
Has God called you to leadership? Are you exercising your calling with humility? Let us not get big heads to think we rival God.
Dear God, you alone are holy and worthy of praise, the one to whom we offer our worship as your children and servants. Make us bold through your Spirit, always knowing that we are yours, always thanking you for life and breath, purpose, and meaning. Amen.
Throughout This Day: Invite the Spirit of God to direct you step by step in the good works he has prepared for you to accomplish this day in his strength, thanking him for these opportunities to serve him and others in his love.
Photo Credit: Wolfgang Hasselmann on Unsplash