The Sin of Counting Horses
December 15, 2010
is a word that God has been working out, teaching, and developing in my
life experiences and quiet time with Him over the past several weeks. Just
as He has done so many times in me and so many others, He illustrated a
biblical truth to me in my life and then proceeded to talk about that
truth by leading me to areas in His word that shed light on it.
The situation: About a month ago on the morning of Saturday, November 20th
as I drove home after an early morning men’s bible study, the transmission
in our Durango went out. Then a few weeks later on November 29th, my cell
phone, which I rely on heavily everyday for various aspects of my ministry
work, broke so that it was barely functional. At the end of that same week
on Friday, December 3rd, we started to notice that our freezer was having
a very difficult time cooling the contents because most things had
partially thawed and were soft. I tried some basic methods to remedy the
problem and affect a fix, but Saturday morning when we woke up, it was now
obvious that our side-by-side refrigerator/freezer was dead and there was
nothing cold anywhere. That morning our family attended and supported a
major function at our kids’ elementary school. While I was there, this
situation back at home was also very heavy on my mind and heart.
We returned home that Saturday afternoon full of the knowledge that there
was nothing cold anywhere in the house. Earlier that morning, we had
thrown out most of the contents of the freezer. That afternoon I found
myself reflecting on the sum of all that was going on and on my face
praying to God. I thought about our dead truck, broken cell phone, and now
dead refrigerator at a time when we could least afford to have any of this
happen. I asked Him why were so many things seeming to break and crumble
around us. I cried out to Him for help and direction. The truck, while
important to our family transportation needs, is not essential, but it’s
loss is merely a very large inconvenience. But the refrigerator… I cried
out that He knew that it was something that we truly needed in order to
keep food for this family. As I contemplated going to the Lowes website to
see if they had any cheap refrigerators on sale, the Holy Spirit spoke
clearly to me and said “why don’t you see if it can be fixed.” The end of
this story with the refrigerator is that within 2 hours from that prayer
on that Saturday afternoon, a repairman had made a home visit to our house
and had the freezer working better than it had in a long time for a
fraction of what it would have cost to buy a much cheaper unit.
So, you may be asking yourself what this all has to do with counting
horses. On that Saturday evening, as I reflected back on the events that
had occurred, God whispered to me that there was a definite spiritual
message in what had just happened. Leading up to this time in my quiet
time with Him, He had been showing me about our need to not hang onto or
“depend” on the things of this world. He had shown how He illustrated this
in Hebrews 11:15 that if we are mindful of the things from this old world,
we will not want to leave it.
Next, in my quiet time, He took me on a tour of the book of Isaiah and
then centered in on chapters 29, 30, and 31 where it became clear that He
was talking about an issue of our tendency to count horses. As the
Assyrians prepared to invade and conquer Judah, instead of coming to Him
(the Holy One of Israel), they went to Egypt for help. This is because in
their natural eyes, they saw that Egypt had a large army with many strong
soldiers and horses. But the LORD rebuked them in Isaiah 30:1-3 for this
1Woe to the rebellious
children, saith the LORD, that take counsel, but not of me; and that cover
with a covering, but not of my spirit, that they may add sin to sin:
2That walk to go down into
Egypt, and have not asked at my mouth; to strengthen themselves in the
strength of Pharaoh, and to trust in the shadow of Egypt!
3Therefore shall the strength
of Pharaoh be your shame, and the trust in the shadow of Egypt your
Just as it is for us today, for Judah to run to and trust in Egypt (the
world) for their help during time of trouble is a poor choice and while it
may appear to offer temporary relief, ultimately will lead to failure. See
how He went on to describe this point in verses 7-13.
7For the Egyptians shall
help in vain, and to no purpose: therefore have I cried concerning this,
Their strength is to sit still. 8Now
go, write it before them in a table, and note it in a book, that it may be
for the time to come for ever and ever: 9That
this is a rebellious people, lying children, children that will not hear
the law of the LORD: 10Which
say to the seers, See not; and to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us right
things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits:
11Get you out of the way, turn
aside out of the path, cause the Holy One of Israel to cease from before
us. 12Wherefore thus saith the
Holy One of Israel, Because ye despise this word, and trust in oppression
and perverseness, and stay thereon: 13Therefore
this iniquity shall be to you as a breach ready to fall, swelling out in a
high wall, whose breaking cometh suddenly at an instant.
When we put our trust in these world systems for all of our help, we are
holding on to something that will crumble whose fall will come suddenly
(verse 13). Now if that was not enough, in the next chapter (Isaiah 31),
He comes back to hammer this point some more and explicitly talks about
trusting in horses.
1Woe to them that go down
to Egypt for help; and stay on horses, and trust in chariots, because they
are many; and in horsemen, because they are very strong; but they look not
unto the Holy One of Israel, neither seek the LORD!
2Yet he also is wise, and will
bring evil, and will not call back his words: but will arise against the
house of the evildoers, and against the help of them that work iniquity.
3Now the Egyptians are men,
and not God; and their horses flesh, and not spirit. When the LORD shall
stretch out his hand, both he that helpeth shall fall, and he that is
holpen shall fall down, and they all shall fail together.
Finally, as another example of how God takes this so very seriously, look
at what I believe to be the second of the two really big sins that King
David committed. This sin is described in detail in 2 Samuel 24 and 1
Chronicles 21. Against the advise of his military leaders, David numbered
the people (counted them apparently so that he could draw comfort from the
size of his mighty army). I find it ironic that even David’s Captain of
the Host Joab (who was not the most ethical of David’s mighty men) pleaded
with the king not to do this evil thing. This sin of counting brought
great anger from the LORD and gave way for His punishment of David and the
people. David brought this on because of his sin… the same sin that was
described above in Isaiah 31… a sin about misplaced trust… trusting in
horses rather than the Holy One of Israel.
You know, the ironic part about the situation back in Isaiah 29-31 is that
everything that was happening with the invasion of Judah by the Assyrians
was happing because God had allowed it for a purpose. He was at all times
in control (as He always is). When you think of it in that way, when Judah
went to Egypt for help, it was an act of rebellion against the will of
At the end of the day, brothers and sisters, the question is “where is
your trust?” And the answer to this question is in prayer and intimate
time with your Heavenly Father. Make that (prayer) your default response
in every situation… in good times and in bad.
Consider this event as described from the different perspective in the
north to Israel by the prophet Jeremiah in chapter 21 verses 8-9. The
captivity of Israel by Babylon was something that God had brought about
in His sovereign will and for His
purpose. The people naturally wanted to resist being conquered and God
sent Israel the following word through Jeremiah:
unto this people thou shalt say, Thus saith the LORD; Behold, I set
before you the way of life, and the way of death.
that abideth in this city shall die by the sword, and by the famine,
and by the pestilence: but he that goeth out, and falleth to the
Chaldeans that besiege you, he shall live, and his life shall be unto
him for a prey.
demonstration of His grace, mercy, and love for these same people, the
same God spoke through the same prophet to these same people a few
chapters later in Jeremiah 29:11 when He reassured them that He had
great plans for them… plans to prosper and not harm them.
11For I know the thoughts that I
think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil,
to give you an expected end. 12Then
shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will
hearken unto you. 13And
ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all
As children of
God, you and I also have this promise from Him, no matter what the
circumstance. Let our default response be always to call on Him.
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© 2010 Gerald L.