By: Allie Joy Hudson
The Harlot Stronghold
The twenty-third chapter of the book of Isaiah prophesies the city of Tyre’s fall. Isaiah’s bleak description opens with images of wailing, shame, and restlessness. The people of Tyre “play the harlot” and turn to other godless nations for refuge rather than seeking after God with their lives. They seek satisfaction in the world instead of in their Creator. Sounds a lot like us, doesn’t it?
In this entire chapter, full of overwhelming evils, hopelessness and despair, and divine retribution, one word anchors the big picture: strongholds. Isaiah 23:11 says, “He has stretched His hand out over the sea, / He has made the kingdoms tremble; / The Lord has given a command concerning Canaan to demolish its strongholds.”
Read that last part again: “The Lord has given a command concerning Canaan to demolish its strongholds” (emphasis mine). God saw that the Canaanites had made idols for themselves, and to get the attention of this people group, God would break apart the things that they had begun to worship instead of Him. He is very intentional about the process of destroying these idols and even goes so far as to command it.
The Same God
The Lord is the same now as He was when Isaiah wrote this passage. Though the means and people He works through may change, God’s will and intentions remain constant.
The patience of the Lord is incredible; being long-suffering is part of His nature. But He is also just. He will not allow wickedness to prevail. And our God is jealous. We are to serve Him and Him alone. He is the only One that truly fulfills us although the offers of the world tantalize us with the speed and intensity with which they seep into our bloodstreams and hook our thoughts.
My Strongholds of Shame
So how does this factor into your own life? What strongholds do you find yourself putting up in place of God? Merriam-Webster defines the word stronghold as “a place of security or survival.” That definitely hits close to home for me. I can think of many other things, whether they be people, activities, or institutions, that I go to for a tangible feeling of safety and peace before I go to God. My fiancé, my family, my circle of friends, my to-do list, my church. Other times, especially when the previous list begins to fall through, I turn to other alternatives. I allow my thoughts to wander and dwell on anxiety or lust, I seek out physical closeness in a way that I’m not ready for, or I close myself off from others and from God. These behaviors are easy for me to resort to, but they leave me feeling miserable and ashamed.
God is breaking these things down in my life. And honestly, it’s been painful. With graduating from college, returning to work, and being engaged and preparing for marriage, I’m in a season of HUGE transitions. Though these are good and exciting things, I’m learning that nothing is completely steady except for God. My home church, something that I’ve leaned on since I was four years old, has been going through a really tough time. I’ve been realizing how often I take advantage of God’s grace. I’ve found myself feeling anxious a lot this year. Some days, my chest feels like I have a weight on it. I ask God for peace, but I don’t always feel like He is there.
He Is Good
But He is. I know Him, and I trust His character, and I know that He is there. He is breaking down strongholds in my life, some good things and some sinful, to remind me that He is my only constant. He is the only unchanging, faithful One. HE is my Stronghold.
Whether the Lord is weeding something harmful out of your life, be it addiction, codependency, or lust, or helping you to reprioritize and run to Him first, this is often a painful process. But He is at work, and He can be trusted. In the words of Isaiah, “Trust in the Lord forever, / For in God the Lord, we have an everlasting Rock” (26:4).
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Allie Joy Hudson is first and foremost a daughter of the King. She graduated from Liberty University with a Bachelor of Arts in English and minors in Spanish and Psychology. Allie completed her Senior Honors Thesis on the presentation of postmodern sexuality in short fiction and has also been published in two of Liberty University’s other onl