Three Easy Ways to Reject God’s Word

  • Brian Overholtzer
Bible open on a table

Sunshine. It is finally here. The lifting of the mask mandate is finally here. After so much distress, we finally have room to breathe. Yes, the pun was intended. We are finally experiencing some comfort. Comfort is not always good if left unchecked; it can lead to complacency, and depending on the context, this complacency can be a matter of life or death.  

Such is the situation in military combat zones. During the tactical phase of Basic Training for the United States Army, the Drill Sergeants consistently warned us of being complacent should we be deployed. To instill these warnings into our minds and reflexes, the Drill Sergeants ran us through various exercises. I remember it vividly; we were positioned by a Humvee simulating an encounter with an unexpected encounter with a civilian of a hostile country. As we encountered the civilian, we made sure to follow the training and instructions we were given not wanting to give the enemy any opportunity to compromise our defenses. After completing the mission, one of our Drill Sergeants recounted a time he was deployed to the Middle East, and his convoy was compromised by an enemy combatant who was able to sneak beneath a vehicle and detonate an Improvised Explosive Devise. This penetration was due to a soldier who became complacent. He received good training but rejected its value and its applicability.  

Isaiah the prophet recounts a time when Israel was especially in danger of a kind of complacency that would prove to be detrimental to them. During the reign of King Ahaz, Israel was thriving. In fact, the nation enjoyed prosperity and expanded borders. During this time of comfort, like the soldier whose mind was not on the mission, Israel’s heart drifted away from Yahweh. The people’s hearts rejected the Word given to them by Yahweh through the prophets. In Isaiah 8:11-22, the prophet reveals three ways to Israel rejected God’s Word that we must vigilantly heed by trusting in God’s Word.  

Fearing Conspiracies  

For the Lord spoke thus to me with his strong hand upon me, and warned me not to walk in the way of this people, saying: “Do not call conspiracy all that this people calls conspiracy, and do not fear what they fear, nor be in dread. But the Lord of hosts, him you shall honor as holy. Let him be your fear, and let him be your dread. And he will become a sanctuary and a stone of offense and a rock of stumbling to both houses of Israel, a trap and a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem. And many shall stumble on it. They shall fall and be broken; they shall be snared and taken” (8:11-15). 

Two options are presented here. One is to fear the word of man. The second is to fear God. In the context of Isaiah 7 – 8, Isaiah prophecies of coming judgment because of the people’s sin, rebellion, and rejection of God. So, what kind of conspiracy does this refer to? This would have been any theory, suspicion, teaching, or explanation for their coming judgment that did not come straight from God’s Word. God gave His authoritative Word to the people through His prophet Isaiah. The people wanted to have a different explanation for why the surrounding nations threatened them with destruction. Isaiah calls the people to repentance by fearing God. In context, Isaiah specifically refers to the respect and honor due to God by listening to and believing His Word. Ignoring this warning leads to ruin. 

Trusting False Religion 

“Bind up the testimony; seal the teaching among my disciples. I will wait for the Lord, who is hiding his face from the house of Jacob, and I will hope in him. Behold, I and the children whom the Lord has given me are signs and portents in Israel from the Lord of hosts, who dwells on Mount Zion. And when they say to you, “Inquire of the mediums and the necromancers who chirp and mutter,” should not a people inquire of their God? Should they inquire of the dead on behalf of the living? To the teaching and to the testimony! If they will not speak according to this word, it is because they have no dawn” (8:16-20).

 Similar to Mel Gibson’s famous cry for freedom in the classic movie “Braveheart,” the zealous prophet has his own battle cry. His scream, “Bind up the testimony” and “To the teaching and to the testimony” reminds me of the major distinctive at The Master’s University, “For Christ and Scripture.” Isaiah contrasts the commitment to trusting Scripture to the people’s searing for answers in the surrounding culture. Instead of believing that their sin was the cause of this coming judgment and wrath of God, they sought comfort in the religions around them. These mediums and necromancers have no ability to provide comfort because they do not have the truth. All they have are dead words given by spiritually dead people. 

Hardening their Hearts 

They will pass through the land, greatly distressed and hungry. And when they are hungry, they will be enraged and will speak contemptuously against their king and their God, and turn their faces upward. And they will look to the earth, but behold, distress and darkness, the gloom of anguish. And they will be thrust into thick darkness (8:20-22).

Those who do not have hearts to believe in God’s Word have but one response when they hear His Word. They harden their hearts. The theme song of Israel is that they did not possess such a believing heart. Isaiah prophesies of their demise knowing that they would continue to reject God’s Word. By God’s grace, while we too have hearts of defiance as Israel, we benefit from the intervening work of God through Christ (Ephesians 2:1-10).  

The soldier who caused the loss of life and of his mission caused heartache and pain that will be felt for a lifetime. Even so, more are the ramifications of those who reject God’s Word. While the easy decision to ignore military training impacts lives for generations, choosing to reject God’s Word will be felt for eternity.