“Stop regarding man, whose breath of life is in his nostrils; for why should he be esteemed?” Thus said the Lord to His straying people in Isaiah 2.22. The King James Version puts the first few words of God’s plea even more memorably: “Cease from man.” Cease hoping in him; cease exalting him; cease fearing him – and, by implication, begin hoping again in the Lord; begin exalting the Lord; begin fearing the Lord!
Let me just mention a few ways that we should all “cease from man” – preaching them as much to myself as to anyone else:
1. Cease idolizing man. When we think of idols, the first thought that comes to our minds may be that of statues and images. If we’re more astute, we will realize that foods, drinks, games, money, and possessions can also be idols. But what about people? O, people can definitely be idols, can they not? We have a television show named for this very sin problem! Whether it is a celebrity, or an athlete, or a political figure, or a pastor … we are in for great disappointment if we put mere men or women on pedestals. Yes, we should recognize the giftedness that God has granted to a good many of His creatures … and even admire it! But who gets the ultimate credit for the Mona Lisa – Michelangelo, or the paint on the canvas? And who gets the greatest applause when we see a man or woman worth admiring? The creation, or the Creator?
2. Cease trusting man. This was one of Israel’s great problems in many portions of her history. When an enemy was breathing down their necks on one side of the land, they would run and seek the help of another pagan king at the other end of the border! To put it in our modern terminology, instead of turning to God in times of trouble, they immediately picked up the telephone or began scouring the internet for solutions. Am I saying it’s wrong to call a plumber when your shower head explodes, or a lawyer when you have legal troubles, or a pastor when you need counsel? No! But call on God even more intently than the plumber! Earnestly ask God to work through the lawyer or the pastor, instead of trusting in a mere man. The same should have been in place in Israel. God could have – and often did – use pagan kings to do His people good. But the point is that Israel should not have sought the kings (small ‘k’), but the King (capital ‘K’)! Let’s make sure we do the same!
3. Cease fearing man. One reason Israel often entrusted themselves to one pagan king was because they feared another pagan king! They worried, and fretted, and stayed awake at night … afraid of what so-and-so might do to them. Does that sound familiar? Don’t we often allow the fear of what others will think or do drive our decision-making? And don’t the decisions we make as a result of such fear often prove to dishonor the Lord? We’d rather displease God than Mr. or Mrs. so-and-so! But it ought to be the other way around! Seek, yes, to please and honor other people when it is legitimate to do so. But when you must obey God rather than man … “Cease from man” … “whose breath of life is in his nostrils; for why should he be esteemed?”
Is there any situation, in your life, in which you need to “cease from man” and begin afresh with God? Do it, even today. God never once let His believing people down!