Paul J. Bucknell
Waiting and Planning provides 8 principles from Isaiah 29-32 on how to make good plans that resolve the tension between self-reliance and trusting God.
There is a tension between taking control and letting God care for things. Some would say that unless we take control, we are not putting to use our good resources. On the other side, we have those who insist that we need to actively wait for God to work. We suggest that there is no need to discard one view to gain the other.
The two thoughts can be nicely weaved together. Waiting on God is the building material of good plans. The passages on planning through Isaiah 29-32 will give us at least 8 principles in making good plans that will help resolve this tension.
Making Plans the Wrong Ways
Making Plans the Right Ways
Woe to those who deeplyhide their plans from the LORD, And whose deeds are done in a dark place, And they say, “Who sees us?” or “Who knows us?” (Isaiah 29:15).
They deliberately find themselves super busy making and carrying out plans. They actually forget that God has an opinion. They are confident they can carry out the plans.
“Who sees us?”
“Who knows us?”
“Woe to the rebellious children,” declares the LORD, “Who execute a plan, but not Mine, And make an alliance, but not of My Spirit, In order to add sin to sin; Who proceed down to Egypt, Without consulting Me, To take refuge in the safety of Pharaoh, And to seek shelter in the shadow of Egypt! (Isaiah 30:1,2).
God in His extraordinary mercy could have made Egypt reject Israel’s proposal for an alliance and therefore caused the Israelites to only have God left as an alternative. But He let them go their own way. By relying on others than God had planned, they showed they were not at all interested in God’s ways.
Therefore the LORD longs to be gracious to you, And
therefore He waits on high to have compassion on you.
For the LORD is a God of justice; How blessed are all
those who long for Him. O people in Zion, inhabitant
in Jerusalem, you will weep no longer. He will
surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry;
when He hears it, He will answer you. (Isaiah 30.18-19).
And your ears will hear a word behind you, “This is
the way, walk in it,” whenever you turn to the right
or to the left. (Isaiah 30:21).
as long as they have unrepentant hearts, He will not
bless them. God’s plan is always better. If God’s
people do not live by faith in His love, then they
will not understand how God’s graciousness is just
waiting to be expressed toward them. Those people
that long for God (wait for Him) are the same that
have confidence in His goodness.
Notice how once His people cry out to the Lord,
He will surely bring help. Once they cry out, they
find three significant means to wait upon God
and find His help.
He will be our Teacher and Leader (20).
Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help, And rely on horses, And trust in chariots because they are many, And in horsemen because they are very strong, But they do not look to the Holy One of Israel, nor seek the LORD! Yet He also is wise and will bring disaster, And does not retract His words, But will arise against the house of evildoers, And against the help of the workers of iniquity. Now the Egyptians are men, and not God, And their horses are flesh and not spirit; So the LORD will stretch out His hand, And he who helps will stumble And he who is helped will fall, And all of them will come to an end together. (Isaiah 31:1-3).
When a person rejects God’s way, he must out of necessity rely on things to support their plans. Notice they rely on horses, chariots and the nation of Egypt. God in His Law purposely told them not to have horses and chariots.
Man’s resources, then, in many cases become snares keeping them from trusting God and doing what is not best for us.
Return to Him from whom you have deeply defected,
O sons of Israel. For in that day every man will cast
away his silver idols and his gold idols, which your
hands have made as a sin. And the Assyrian will fall
by a sword not of man, And a sword not of man will
devour him. So he will not escape the sword, And his young men will become forced laborers. “And his
rock will pass away because of panic, And his princes
will be terrified at the standard,” Declares the LORD, whose fire is in Zion and whose furnace is in Jerusalem. (Isaiah 31.6-9).
His people have made to get them out of trouble. God personally makes it clear only He, but certainly He,
will deliver His people from Assyria their invader.
God makes it very clear that our plans and our
attempts to combatting impending problems
are utter foolishness in light of His greater purpose.
No longer will the fool be called noble, Or the rogue be spoken of as generous. For a fool speaks nonsense, And his heart inclines toward wickedness, To practice ungodliness and to speak error against the LORD, To keep the hungry person unsatisfied And to withhold drink from the thirsty. (Isaiah 32.5-6).
Let’s list what it says about the fool.
But the noble man devises noble plans; And
by noble plans he stands. (Isaiah 32.8).
The greatest things will be those things done
according to God’s will. We see many mediocre
things being done even by the church. This is
because of their reliance on self and others but not God.
God made the church to be vulnerable so that
she would regularly call out to God for help. We
can get by for a long time without thinking clearly
what God wants. Why is it that a denomination will
just close churches rather than examining her
innards? Their folly condemns them.
The noble man trusts alone in God. There are men
who had more money go through their fingers than
George Mueller, but the affect of their money
pales in contrast to the man who trusts in God.
God is every seeking those men who wait upon Him
for doing great things.
The ‘God’ factor is virtually eliminated. We need to be very careful not to fall into this snare. It can happen to churches, Christian organizations or in the lives of individuals. God wants people to pray and wait upon Him. If they don’t, they forget Him and certainly will minimize His ways.
Life without God is secularism. We can understand secularism within the society overall but when it is in the church, it is outright scary! But this is where the Western church is as a whole. As affluence and knowledge has become readily available, man basically thinks he can do anything that he desires.
He is right to a degree, of course. With the resources that the Lord has given to him, man can do a lot. The church can do a lot, but it will not be done to God’s glory.
Path of Spiritual Decline
In Christian living, we try hard to please the Lord. We end up falling into some regular sin such as gazing at pornography, indulging our appetites, birth control or being worried. We change the standard to accommodate our abilities. We then set goals that we can reach. We are proud of the things we have accomplished.
As a result of this, we hear catch phrases that seem to justify our sins. “Everyone does it.” “What is wrong with that?!” Instead of scrutinizing the scriptures for standards we just go full steam ahead in our self-confidence.
Behind all of this is our desire to live in a world in which we can control things. The world does this because they don’t believe there is anything else to trust in or live for. The church does it because of that reason as well as because of imitation. They don’t know anything better.
The church might seek for power, but it is not in godly living. Godly living, however, is what enables us to draw close to the Lord. Godly people live by God’s standards in God’s power for God’s glory. They are preoccupied with God and His purposes and ways rather than man’s.
“May those who wait for Thee not be ashamed through me, O Lord GOD of hosts; May those who seek Thee not be dishonored through me, O God of Israel” (Psalm 69:6 ).
We have forgotten what it means to wait upon God. Those that wait upon God hold to His standards. They know that they can not accomplish what God wants without God’s extraordinary grace. Because of this, they seek His face. They confess their sins. They call upon the Name of the Lord. Worldliness has a specific term right now called pragmatism. We need to repent from this and wait upon God!