Consulting the oracle is an age-old practice. Perhaps a thousand and one reasons can be assigned as to why people desire to pry into the future of the unknown. But then, one basic reason stands out: The world is so full of hidden dangers to trust or leave anything to chance.
This explains the Psalmist's statement in Psalm 23:4 “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me”.
The words “the valley of the shadow of death,” are a reference to planet earth–the world in which we live.
In our world of scientific gadgets and machines, we are truly beset with hidden dangers, from car accidents to occupational hazards to chemical poisoning!
And more dangers lurk in the spiritual realm ruled by demonic principalities and powers. But we need not be afraid. Yahweh has given His people an antidote to all hidden dangers–be they spiritual or physical–that might be employed by the enemy against us.
In ancient Judah while the nation cowered in fear of imminent Babylonian attack, the princes of the land took counsel together to seek spiritual help from Egypt . God refers to this matter in Isaiah 30:1-4, where He accuses the leaders of Judah of having covered themselves with “a covering, but not of my spirit, that they may add sin to sin.”
What sin was initially committed and then what additional sin followed? The first sin was primarily one of transgression, whereby the Israelites violated the divine covenant. However, instead of returning to God through repentance, the leaders of Israel rather committed an additional sin of grave proportions by seeking help from Egypt both militarily and spiritually.
For being a snare to Israel and for enticing her into idolatry, God vowed to destroy the idols of Egypt as well as her cities renowned for idolatry and oracle-consulting (Ezekiel 30:13-16; note that “Zoan,” an ancient Egyptian city, appears in both the books of Ezekiel and Isaiah).
As for Israel which went ‘whoring after' Egyptian spiritualists, Yah had this information for them. “…the Egyptians shall help in vain, and to no purpose; therefore have I cried concerning this: Their strength is to sit still”. (Isa. 30:7).
This is the heavenly prescription for defence. Our strength is to sit still. God tells us in Psalm 46:10: “Be still, and know that I am God…….. I will be exalted in the earth.”
“Sitting still” is another expression for “waiting on the Lord” in prayer. The power that has been planted in believers is able to do “exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think” if only we rouse it up! (Eph. 3:20).
It's instructive to learn that all the holy prophets and apostles of old spent time before the LORD in prayer before they experienced breakthroughs in their lives and worked exploits. Similarly, we should also secure the good counsel (plans) of God in our lives by means of prayer– being still before the Lord. (Prov. 19:21).
In approaching the Lord in prayer, we should always “remember His marvelous works that He has done” as a spur to greater faith in Him. (Ps. 105:5).
Besides, a willingness to follow the spiritual regimen recommended in scripture is important. To be sure, fasting, for example, will inflict physical discomforts, but still it's worth the effort. The alternative is no comforting thought! Should we duck out of fasting-prayer and allow the devil to mess with our lives because it's physically challenging?
Spiritual life in Christ was never meant to rosy. In fact, the apostle Paul exhorts believers to “endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ,” who in His humanity set a personal example.
Though full of the Holy Spirit as began His earthly ministry, Yeshua still deemed it necessary to fast for forty days in the wilderness (where He could sit still). In another instance, He was said to have “continued all night in prayer to God.” (Luke 4:1-2; 6:12).
Christ was given to prayer and fasting, and so must we: “Be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. If we suffer, we shall also reign with Him”. (2Tim. 2:1; 12).
It's high time we submitted to the Holy Spirit so that the gold in us will shine. This refinement comes by prayer and fasting which is able to thoroughly purge us of all spiritual impurities and establish God's purposes for us in our lives. (See Zech. 13:9).
Again, the call is to be still before the LORD: “In returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength: and ye would not.” (Isa. 30:15).
“In rest….in quietness…shall ye be saved”. The message is clear. To do otherwise is not an option. We are to pray without ceasing. (1Thess. 5:17).