There is a popular song from my youth still on the radio today titled, Fifty ways to leave your lover, by Paul Simon. The chorus encourages, "Just slip out the back, Jack. Make a new plan, Stan. You don’t need to be coy, Roy. Just get yourself free. Hop on the bus, Gus. You don’t need to discuss much. Just drop off the key, Lee and get yourself free." This is the theme song for our generation.
We have not been a faithful people, but faithless. "Semper Fidelis" has become a motto for the back of jackets, pickup truck windows, and movie heroes of yesteryear, but not for our hearts! Friends I am not talking about our infidelity to our marriage partners, though we have been grossly unfaithful there as well. I am talking about our unfaithfulness to God our maker, our true lover. Consider the prophet Isaiah's words to those who, "...slip out the back, Jack!"
1) "Woe to the rebellious children", says Yahweh, "who take counsel, but not from me; and who make an alliance, but not with my Spirit, that they may add sin to sin, 2) who set out to go down into Egypt, and have not asked my advice; to strengthen themselves in the strength of Pharaoh, and to take refuge in the shadow of Egypt! 3) Therefore the strength of Pharaoh will be your shame, and the refuge in the shadow of Egypt your confusion. 4) For their princes are at Zoan, and their ambassadors have come to Hanes. 5) They shall all be ashamed because of a people that can't profit them, that are not a help nor profit, but a shame, and also a reproach."6) The burden of the animals of the South. Through the land of trouble and anguish, of the lioness and the lion, the viper and fiery flying serpent, they carry their riches on the shoulders of young donkeys, and their treasures on the humps of camels, to an unprofitable people. 7) For Egypt helps in vain, and to no purpose; therefore I have called her Rahab who sits still. 8) Now go, write it before them on a tablet, and inscribe it in a book, that it may be for the time to come forever and ever. 9) For it is a rebellious people, lying children, children who will not hear Yahweh's law; 10) who tell the seers, "Don't see!" and to the prophets, "Don't prophesy to us right things. Tell us pleasant things. Prophesy deceits. 11) Get out of the way. Turn away from the path. Cause the Holy One of Israel to cease from before us." 12) Therefore thus says the Holy One of Israel, "Because you despise this word, and trust in oppression and perverseness, and rely on it; 13) therefore this iniquity shall be to you like a breach ready to fall, swelling out in a high wall, whose breaking comes suddenly in an instant. 14) He will break it as a potter's vessel is broken, breaking it in pieces without sparing, so that there won't be found among the broken pieces a piece good enough to take fire from the hearth, or to dip up water out of the cistern."
15) For thus said the Lord Yahweh, the Holy One of Israel, "You will be saved in returning and rest. Your strength will be in quietness and in confidence." You refused, 16) but you said, "No, for we will flee on horses;" therefore you will flee; and, "We will ride on the swift;" therefore those who pursue you will be swift. 17) One thousand will flee at the threat of one. At the threat of five, you will flee until you are left like a beacon on the top of a mountain, and like a banner on a hill.
18) Therefore Yahweh will wait, that he may be gracious to you; and therefore he will be exalted, that he may have mercy on you, for Yahweh is a God of justice. Blessed are all those who wait for him.Isaiah 30:1-18 (WEB)
Let's make a list for ourselves of the "fifty ways" we have left the Lord our lover and fled from him. He has tenderly called us to repentance and rest, but we would not have it. For myself I have fled to praise from man, pleasure, college degrees, money, work, and even ministry and marriage. Some of these things are good things that God has created to be enjoyed, but none of them can replace God.
Friend, what can you add to the list? God help us to lay down our idols for repentance and rest. And even if we ourselves happen to be hopelessly surrounded by the sin of our past, alone, like banner on a hill with only God to deliver, then let us finally give up hope in our idols and begin to hope in Jesus Christ.
Fly his banner and show the world a mighty victory!