The Bare Facts
Isaiah was a prophet of God. One day, God gave him an almost unimaginable message. In the twentieth chapter of Isaiah, we learn that the LORD told Isaiah to “Take off the sackcloth from your body and the sandals from your feet.” And he did so, going around stripped and barefoot.1” He did this for three years!
Then the LORD told him that this was a sign – “a symbol of the terrible troubles” – that would come on Egypt and Ethiopia. I wonder if the thought went through Isaiah’s mind, “Now you tell me!”
The Main Point
The Philistines, Israel’s continual nemesis, felt safe because they believed that if Assyria ever attempted to attack them, then Egypt and/or Ethiopia would give them protection. WRONG!
The LORD told Isaiah that the king of Assyria would conquer Egypt and Ethiopia. And then the Philistines would become terrified! “They will say, ‘If this can happen to Egypt, what chance do we have? We were counting on Egypt to protect us from the king of Assyria.2’”
Just like people, throughout history, nations have made dangerous decisions based on bad assumptions. A stark example happened in 1957.
The Soviet Union Invaded Hungary
The November 1957 invasion by the Soviet Union into Hungary is a painful reminder of the danger of trusting other nations for your own nation’s safety. In 1956, a national movement swept the people of Hungary to throw off the outdated Soviet repression of their nation. At the beginning of the movement, they did not seek an alliance with NATO, just as Ukraine did not seek a military alliance with the West. But, just as the Soviet Union increased its pressure on Hungary, Russia did the same to Ukraine. And, just as we have recently seen in the war between Russia and Ukraine, the Soviet Union invaded Hungary. Both Hungary and Ukraine looked to the West for help; only Ukraine received it.
The Hungarian anti-Soviet militia thought they would succeed in their effort because they believed rumors, published by the CIA, that NATO and the US would step in and stop the invasion3. No help came from the West, so the Soviet Union’s invasion was an overwhelming success.
I have placed my fingers in some of the hundreds of bullet holes in Hungary’s parliament building that was besieged during the 1957 invasion. It is a chilling reminder of how political decisions do affect people’s lives.
As a side note, few people remember that Elvis Presley made a personal effort to help the Hungarians.
On Sunday, January 6, 1957, as millions of Americans watched Ed Sullivan’s popular television variety show, with the nearly 22 year-old Elvis Presley headlining for the third time, Sullivan told viewers Presley felt “so keenly about Hungarian relief, he urges all of us through the country to remember that immediate aid is needed.” The host followed this with Elvis singing an unrecorded number, the gospel song “Peace in the Valley,” saying “he feels that this is sort of in the mood that he’d like to create. – Wikipedia
God has given good promises to those that trust Him, who look to Him for their help, their hope, their hero.
6 Now I know that the Lord saves his anointed;Psalms 20:6–8 ESV
he will answer him from his holy heaven
with the saving might of his right hand.
7 Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.
8 They collapse and fall,
but we rise and stand upright.
Both personally and as a nation, I pray that we change, that we stop trusting the untrustworthy and wholeheartedly trust our place in Jesus for our strength.
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: Isaiah 20:2 NIV
: Isaiah 20:6 NLT
: After the USSR defeated the anti-communist Hungarian Revolution, the revolutionists criticised the CIA and its RFE network for having deceived the Hungarians into believing that the West—NATO and the US—would expel the USSR from the Hungarian People’s Republic. Although incitements to violence were officially against RFE policy, an internal analysis by RFE adviser William Griffith found, as summarized by the National Security Archive at George Washington University, that “RFE broadcasts in several cases had implied that foreign aid would be forthcoming if the Hungarians succeeded in establishing a ‘central military command’” and “appealed to the Hungarians to ‘continue to fight vigorously’”. – Hungarian Revolution of 1956