For you have forgotten the God of your salvation, and have not remembered the Rock of your refuge… – Isaiah 17:10 ESV
The northern kingdom of Israel had made an alliance with Syria in order to come against the southern kingdom of Judah. Not only were they planning an attack on their own brothers, they were turning to a foreign nation to help them do it. They were placing their trust in men rather than God. And at the heart of their decision to place their trust and hope in men was a failure to remember that God was the source of their salvation. As a result, their efforts to sow seeds of faith in pagan idols would prove unfruitful. Their alliances with other nations were just not diplomatic and military in nature, but they also formed spiritual alliances, turning to the false gods of those nations as a source of help and hope. But God warned them, “In that day man will look to his Maker, and his eyes will look on the Holy One of Israel. He will not look to the altars, the work of his hands, and he will not look on what his own fingers have made, either the Asherim or the altars of incense” (Isaiah 17:7-8 ESV). A day of judgment was coming. At that time, the people of Israel would learn to turn to their God and to abandon their false gods, made with their own hands. They would receive a powerful reminder of the danger of forgetting God.
What does this passage reveal about God?
Isaiah 17-18, 2 Peter 3
Ultimately, God is in control. Mankind may forget or even ignore Him, but He does not go away. He does not cease to be God. Our refusal to acknowledge Him does not alter His reality or diminish His capacity to rule and reign. God is sovereign over all. Repeatedly in these chapters, we see the words “in that day” and “at that time.” There is a day of judgment coming. God has planned a time of payback, when He will deal righteously and justly with the sins of mankind. We can read in the Old Testament the countless times in which God fulfilled His warnings of coming judgment on the people of Israel and Judah. He had warned about the coming of the Assyrians against the northern kingdom and it took place. He later warned the people of Judah that the Babylonians would come, and they did. He has provided ample warning of yet-future judgments to come that will involve the entire world. And those days will come just as He has said they will. “For the Lord of Hosts has purposed, and who will annul it? His hand is stretched out, and who will turn it back?” (Isaiah 14:27 ESV). God will do all that He has planned to do, and no one can stand in His way. It doesn't matter whether we believe it or not. It doesn't make any difference if we agree with it or not. God's will will be done.
What does this passage reveal about man?
There will always be scoffers. Peter reminded his readers of that reality. “I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, that you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandments of the Lord and Savior through your apostles, knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. They will say, ‘Where is the promise of his coming?’” (2 Peter 3:1-4 ESV). There were those in Peter's day who were denying the return of Jesus. They scoffed at the idea. Warren Wiersbe describes a scoffer as “someone who treats lightly that which ought to be taken seriously.” These individuals took a look at the world around them and concluded, “From before the times of our ancestors, everything has remained the same since the world was first created” (2 Peter 3:4 NLT). In other words, they believed that the world would simply continue to go along just as it always had, because God was not involved. Jesus was not coming back. There was no need to concern yourself with right moral standards or holy living. But Paul reminded his readers that these scoffers “deliberately overlook this fact” (2 Peter 3:5 ESV). They choose to ignore the reality that God has intervened in the affairs of the world on a variety of occasions, including at creation and during the world-wide flood in the days of Noah. God is not aloof and distant, simply watching the world from afar. He is intimately involved and has a divine plan for its ultimate redemption and restoration. Peter assured his readers that “the day of the Lord will come like a thief” (2 Peter 3:9 ESV). It will come unexpectedly and suddenly, catching everyone unawares and unprepared. But he encouraged his audience to be ready – to not forget the God of their salvation and their rock of refuge. “Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells” (2 Peter 3:11-13 ESV).
How would I apply what I’ve read to my own life?
God wants us to be ready. He wants us to live as if we truly believe in the return of His Son. We are to live in anticipation of “day of the Lord” as if it could be any day. We should desire to “be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace” (2 Peter 3:14 ESV). There will be those around us who scoff at His return and live as if it isn't even going to happen. They will refuse to live their lives in preparation for His coming. But we must be ready and “count the patience of our Lord as salvation” (2 Peter 3:15 ESV). The longer He delays, the more people have the opportunity to accept the gift of salvation made available through His Son. While we should long for and pray for His return, we should also see each passing day that God delays that event as a sign of His grace and mercy on mankind. And in the meantime, we are to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter3:18 ESV). Rather than forget Him, we are to grow in our knowledge of Him.
Father, You are our Savior. You are our rock of refuge. Never let me forget that. It is so easy to turn to someone or something else other than You. But those things always prove insufficient and incapable of delivering what they offer. Only You can rescue and redeem. Only You can save and sanctify. You are in complete control and Your plan is unstoppable. No matter what I see taking place around me, I can know that You are intimately involved in the affairs of men and diligently working Your plan to perfection. Amen