“In God we trust.” You can find the saying on current USA currency. The first USA coin to be struck with the saying was the 2-cent piece in 1864. In the midst of the Civil War, it was felt that the nation needed to acknowledge the true source of her help. All coins and currency have carried the motto since 1938. But is the motto true? Do you and I really trust in God, or is it a just motto that sounds like a nice thing that is struck on coins or printed on bills? Clearly our government does not trust in God. A mere short survey of news headlines would demonstrate that. If you had to point to evidence from your life that you trust in God, could you?
In Isaiah 18, the prophet brings a prophecy against Ethiopia in order to encourage the nation of Judah to trust only in the Lord. Ethiopia is the land of Cush, south of Egypt. Many scholars think that the Queen of Sheba came from Ethiopia; although, others believe that Sheba was part of the southern Arabian Peninsula. In 2 Chronicles 14:9, we read of Zerah the Ethiopian who came against Asa with an army of one million men. Asa was delivered from that army because he truly trusted in the Lord.
By Isaiah’s time, the Ethiopians were no longer a threat to the little nation of Judah, but they were potentially allies against the world power, Assyria. Isaiah warns of coming judgment upon Ethiopia. Thus, the people of Judah should not depend upon this Egyptian/Ethiopian dynasty to deliver them from the Assyrians. Indeed, the Assyrians defeated the Ethiopians in 701 B.C. (toward the end of Isaiah’s life). Had Judah truly depended upon Ethiopia, their trust would have been disappointed.
But along with the promised judgment, comes a promise. The promise is that this ‘terrible-smooth-skinned people’ would one day bring a present to the Lord in Mount Zion. In Acts 8 the Ethiopian Eunuch came to Jerusalem to find out who this Great God truly was. He was reading the scroll of Isaiah 53 when Philip met him at his chariot. What do you suppose he thought when he read of his nation in Isaiah 18?
That Eunuch converted to Jesus, and to this day the Coptic church of Egypt and Ethiopia trace their lineage to him. Yes, the Lord caused Ethiopia to bring a gift to Him. It is the gift of some of her people. And someday even more shall come. Our king predicts what happens, and we can see it happen in history!
But do we depend upon the people and things around us which will fail us? Or, do we depend upon the Lord? One day, if we depend upon Him, we will bring a gift to Him. It will be the result of our trust in Him. That gift will be people who have seen the love of Jesus in us, and therefore have trusted in Jesus because of what they saw in us. On the other hand, if we trust upon the people and things around us, we will have nothing to bring. We have opportunity to increase His glory by trusting on His promise, not the things or people around us.
John Chaffin is pastor at the Christian Missionary Church.