- Rick LoPresti
It's a set up
The phrase "it's a set up" usually means someone has been lured into a situation under the false pretense that is would be good, but it was really a set up for evil. Throughout the Bible, God did the opposite for His people. Joseph had 2 dreams that his family was going to bow to him. What happened at that time of his life was that he was sold into slavery in Egypt by his brothers. Later, he was falsely accused of attempted rape and put in prison. It sure did not seem like his dreams were going to come true, but it was all a set up by God. When famine struck, Joseph was in the perfect position to save his family and all of Egypt from starving to death (Gen 37-45). His family bowed to him as the second in command in Egypt. His family moved to Egypt to survive the famine, and that is how the prophecy God gave Abraham was fulfilled (Gen 15:13-14).
When it was time for the last part of that prophecy to be fulfilled, God raised up Moses to lead Israel out of Egypt (Ex 1-14). God led the Israelites to the Red Sea, although there was another more direct way to the promised land. The Egyptians went out after them, and they were pinned in. The Israelites thought God had set them up to be destroyed, but it was really the Egyptians God was setting up to be destroyed. Israel was being set up to be miraculously delivered from the Egyptians forever. God opened the Red Sea, and the Israelites passed through on dry ground. When the Egyptians tried to pursue them, God closed the sea upon them, and they were destroyed.
As the Israelites were celebrating that victory, they said that the inhabitants of the promised land would hear what God did for Israel, fear would fall upon them, and Israel would inherit the land (Ex 15:14-17). When Moses sent 12 spies to see the land before they entered, 10 of them returned with a bad report and discouraged the people from believing God's promise (Num 13-14). Their unbelief caused that whole generation to fail to receive what God had for them, and they wandered in the wilderness for 40 years until they all died. After that, they were back where they started with the next generation and a new leader, Joshua. Joshua sent 2 spies to see the land. They arrived at the house of Rahab, who lived in Jericho (Josh 2). Rahab told the 2 spies that they had been waiting in fear for 40 years for Israel to invade and conquer, and asked them to spare her and her family (Josh 2:9-13).
After they entered the promised land, they had to fight the various nations that lived there. Twice several of these nations united against them, but it was only so that Israel could defeat them all at once instead of one at a time (Josh 10-11).
God warned the Israelites through Moses that after they entered the promised land, if they continued to sin, God would send their enemies against them until they were destroyed and driven from their land (Ex 34:12, Deut 4:23-31, Deut 28). This came to pass when the Assyrians conquered the northern part of Israel, and the Babylonians conquered the southern part (2Ki 17, 2Ki 24). The Babylonians took some of the Israelites captive to Babylon. Others were killed in the conquest. Others were left in the land. Ezekiel had predicted this (Eze 5). Jeremiah was a prophet during this time. It seemed to those who were taken captive that they were the ones God was mad at, and those who were still in their homeland were the ones God was blessing. Jeremiah had a vision about good figs and bad figs (Jer 24). The good figs were the captives, and the bad figs were those still in the land. Later, Jeremiah wrote a letter to the captives in Babylon and told them these things. A verse people quote often was in this letter. "For 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 (Jer 29:11)." The captives were actually being protected from the worse judgment coming to those left behind.
When the Syrians went to capture the prophet Elisha, their army had him surrounded. He was on a hill with his assistant (2Ki 6). The assistant thought they were trapped and in grave danger. Elisha prayed God would open this man's eyes, and he saw the angelic army of God on the hill. Elisha prayed for the Syrians to go blind, and they did. He led this blind army right into the capital city where they were now surrounded and trapped.
Sometimes situations seem to be against us, and it looks like we are being set up to fail, or to be defeated. Faith can open our eyes to see that God may be setting us up, not for failure, but for victory. Sometimes we think our circumstances are God's way of telling us He is not pleased with us. That is true sometimes, but it could be that God is setting up our enemy, and not us. Prayer, godly counsel, and whether or not we are following God's commandments will tell us which it is. His ways are above our ways (Is 55:8-9).