Idol Promises or God's Promises?

Gods make promises. The true God makes promises, and false gods make promises too.

The question is, where will we put our trust?

We see a vivid example of misplaced trust In 2 Chronicles 16. King Asa of Judah faced a military threat in a neighboring kingdom building a fortress on his border. He responded by sending silver and gold to the king of Syria in exchange for help with his enemies. And it functionally worked—Syria harassed Judah's enemies, and the problem was solved. Except the Lord sent a prophet to chastise King Asa. Instead of relying on God's help, Asa relied on the help of men. Instead of seeking God's will, Asa made his own plan. A few chapters earlier, Asa had faced an even bigger military threat. In that case, he responded in dependence and cried out to God for help—and God delivered Judah. But after years of peace and prosperity, Asa grew proud and trusted in his own ability to find solutions.

Near the end of his life, Asa had another opportunity to trust in God. A severe disease afflicted his feet, but instead of seeking help from the God who heals, (Exodus 15:26), King Asa put his trust in physicians. Again, this doesn't mean we shouldn't take practical steps to pursue health or the help of physicians. Paul affirmed the benefits of both exercise and diet adjustments to Timothy (1 Tim. 4:8; 5:23), and we know Luke was a physician. Going to a doctor or taking medicine can be an act of faith, but our ultimate trust for health needs to be in God who empowers all means to be beneficial to us.

God isn't opposed to doctors or medicine. God is opposed to idolatry. God alone deserves our ultimate trust, and giving that trust to anything else is idolatry.

King Asa didn't want to look to God. He knew God could deliver him, as he had years before. More likely, Asa didn't want to submit to God's will. Because when we put our trust in God, we must also submit to God's answer. Paul prayed for God to remove his thorn in the flesh; God did not take it away, but instead he gave Paul the grace to endure it (2 Corinthians 12:7-9). In the same way, putting our trust in God means submitting to the possibility that God has a different plan.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.
~ Proverbs 3:5-6

King Asa leaned on his own understanding, putting his trust in the false god of Self. But God calls us to lean fully on him instead, with all our heart. We need to acknowledge our utter dependence on him in everything we do and give him the praise for all our victories. Doing so will cultivate humility in our hearts and help protect us from idolatrous self-trust.

Our sinful inclination is to trust in created things instead of the Creator. One of the most tragic consequences of this idolatry is that it takes us away from God. When God calls us to trust in him, he uses phrases like "abide in the shadow of the Almighty" and "under his wings you will find refuge." When we trust in God, we draw near to him, like chicks huddling under their mother's wings for warmth and shelter from the rain. Not only does our trust glorify God, but it leads us back to him as our life and joy.

Where do you get confidence to face the day? What helps you cope with difficulty? What promises to give you life and deliver you from death?

If you are trusting in something else, repent. Turn to God, and entrust yourself to him. Gratefully receive God's means of grace like medicine, but remember that it is God who ultimately heals you. Believe in his power and his love; submit to his wisdom. Receive what he decides is best for you and find joy under the shadow of his wings (Psalm 63:7).

Ben Whiting




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