Jump Start # 2526
Isaiah 28:20 “The bed is too short on which to stretch out, and the blanket is too small to wrap oneself in.”
The Bible is full of wonderful expressions that grab our attention, invite thoughts and make us look deeper, both into God’s word and into our own hearts. Our verse today contains one of those expressions. A short bed and a small blanket—the perfect combination for a restless night. A short bed, I’ve slept in a few of those. I was staying with a family once and the guest bed was the fold out couch in the living room. About the last night, I tried laying diagonally, and that seemed to work. Wish I had thought about that the first night I was there. And, the blanket deal happens often at home. I’ve been known to roll with the covers and pull them all my way. That leaves my wife freezing in the night.
It is thought that our verse was a well known expression or proverb in Isaiah’s day. It was meant to express things that were not working. A tall guy in a short bed, doesn’t work. A big guy with a little blanket, doesn’t work. The passage is intended to teach Judah that forming an alliance with Egypt wasn’t going to work. Instead of trusting God, they were trying to figure things out for themselves. They left God out of the equation. What they were doing was like a short bed and a small blanket. The comfort they believed Egypt would give them was not going to be enough. Even with Egypt, they would not be able to hold off the punishment God had coming for them.
Short beds and small blankets makes me think of all the times we try to work things out on our own, leaving God out of the picture. We try to fix a marriage without God. It looks good for a while, but it’s only band aids that never deals with the real issues of trust, forgiveness and grace. We try to end addictions on our own and for a while it seems good. But, sooner or later, they always seem to come back. Short beds and small blankets never really work.
It seems that it is often so easy to get into a mess and make trouble, but fixing those messes takes a long time and a lot of effort. You let a couple of grandkids alone in a toy room and in no time, that room can look like a major tornado has passed through. It takes a lot longer to pick up, clean up and put away than it did to mess it up.
Much of our preaching and teaching is preventative based. The design is to keep us out of trouble. Toothpaste isn’t used because one has cavities. It’s used to prevent cavities. Preaching is like that. It’s warning before the trouble begins. It’s trying to get us to open our eyes and make changes to keep trouble from tearing up our families and our hearts.
Some lessons for us:
First, Wise shepherds and preachers have an understanding of what’s going on in the world. Long ago it was said that preachers need to have an open Bible in one hand and a newspaper in the other. Being current is important. No one is interested in hearing answers to questions that are no longer being asked. Some issues die with time. Some battles are over. To prevent trouble, we need to be alert, aware and quick. Mass media allows speculations, error and wild ideas to be spread much faster than ever before. There is no need to make up false dragons to battle. There are enough real ones in the world today. Knowing what keeps the sheep awake at night is important to shepherds.
Second, the world is always presenting short beds and small blankets as false hope and comfort today. And, sadly, far too many are accepting these things as real help, when they are not. Hiding behind artificial happiness is nothing more than a short bed. Wearing masks to convince the world we are ok, is a short blanket. Pills, affairs, alcohol, obsessed with buying, shallow friendships, are short beds that tries to comfort us, but they can’t. Guilt, shame, sin and sorrow can only be dealt with by the forgiveness found in Christ. Telling each other that “it’s ok,” is just another short bed. “Everyone does wrong,” is a blanket that won’t cover you.
Third, God’s people should have known better. They were trying to build a relationship with Egypt to ward off the Assyrians. Egypt—that terrible place in their history, should have reminded them of plagues, Passover and a sea that divided. God was stronger than the Egyptians. Why do we forget about these lessons? Why do we get desperate and think we have to work things out ourselves, when Biblical history repeatedly shows us that God delivers His people. And, as God’s people today, we, too, must remember.
Fourth, a person can convince himself that a short bed is fine, but it’s not. He’s deceiving himself. I’ve been in short beds. Knees cramped, head against the wall, unable to roll over for fear of falling out. It might work for one night, but not for very long. And, like that, we can convince ourselves that everything is fine, when it is not. Self deception is the worst of all. When a person recognizes that things are not right, that is a starting point. That allows him to seek something better. But when a broke person is convinced that he is fine financially, he won’t make any changes. When a person is tired of being broke and living paycheck to paycheck, then he will do something to improve his situation. It’s the same spiritually. As long as we keep telling ourselves that we are great, nothing will ever change. Why would a person need Jesus, if everything is great. Things are not great. We need a Savior. It is at that point that we can find real help and real solutions.
One of my favorite things, after I have been away for several days is getting back into my own bed. Nothing sleeps as well as your own bed. It’s not too short. The covers are not too small. A good night sleep is hard to beat. And, spiritually, nothing beats God. No one can comfort like the Lord can. No one can put the pieces together like the Lord can. No one believes in us as much as the Lord does.
Short beds and small covers—they never work!