Monday, February 18, 2008

Isaiah, Chapter 33

It wasn't until yesterday that I viewed compromise as a bad thing. In our society today, compromise is viewed as critically important. We must be willing to compromise so that everyone is happy with a decision. Try to think of someone in your life that is uncompromising. How easy are they to get along with? In certain context, such as deciding which movie to go see or which restaurant to eat at, it is okay to have an attitude of compromise. When discussing matters of faith and salvation, however, the Lord hates those who compromise.

Here, compromise is bad because we end up not selling ourselves short, but God. The world would have us believe that we are intolerant if we don't accept and welcome other people's religions. It is okay to accept that they exist, and according to Christ, we must love these people and not persecute them. Accepting the beliefs as right though is something we cannot do. Revelation 2 carries a warning about compromise in the letter to the church at Pergamum, and it is related to today's message in Isaiah 33.

14Nevertheless, I have a few things against you: You have people there who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to entice the Israelites to sin by eating food sacrificed to idols and by committing sexual immorality. 15Likewise you also have those who hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans. 16Repent therefore! Otherwise, I will soon come to you and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth. – Revelation 2:14-16

The short version of the story of Balaam and Balak comes from the book of Numbers. Basically, the Israelites were an unstoppable force because they were following God with all their hearts. Balak, king of Moab, feared they would soon invade his land and contacted Balaam, a prophet, to curse them. Though he wouldn't curse them, he did tell Balak how to defeat them. Basically, he had Balak send all the attractive women of Moab out to camp around the Israelites army and party. Naturally, this distracted the Israelite armies, they began to intermarry, and their beliefs began to mix with the Moabites. They did not hold strong and follow God as they were asked, and it turned out to be their downfall because they compromised.

So how does this carry over to Isaiah 33? Well, Isaiah 33 talks about a distress and hope. Whom could the people of Israel turn to in times of distress? They could turn to God, but as we have seen throughout the book of Isaiah, God would not compromise for them. God wanted their whole hearts, just as he wants all of us today.

5 The LORD is exalted, for he dwells on high;
he will fill Zion with justice and righteousness.

6 He will be the sure foundation for your times,
a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge;
the fear of the LORD is the key to this treasure.

7 Look, their brave men cry aloud in the streets;
the envoys of peace weep bitterly.

8 The highways are deserted,
no travelers are on the roads.
The treaty is broken,
its witnesses are despised,
no one is respected.

9 The land mourns and wastes away,
Lebanon is ashamed and withers;
Sharon is like the Arabah,
and Bashan and Carmel drop their leaves.

10 "Now will I arise," says the LORD.
"Now will I be exalted;
now will I be lifted up. – Isaiah 33:5-10

Even if we come to the Lord in times of great fear and loss, He is still uncompromising and asks for all of us. Much of Isaiah has been a warning against compromising when it comes to God. We must serve Him with our whole hearts, not just a small part that feels obligated for protection. We see in verse 10 that God is exalted especially when His enemies are defeated, which is alluded to in the previous verses. Therefore, why should we wait until we absolutely need God and He gives us no choice but to be uncompromising? Why not serve Him wholeheartedly, without compromising any principles for the convenience of the world?


  1. What do you view being uncompromising with God as?
  2. How do you see yourself compromising your faith?
  3. How can we learn from the Israelites here in Isaiah?

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