In Isaiah 55:8, God says that His ways are not man’s way and He explains in the next verse that His ways are higher than man’s. In this second verse, God is referring to His long-term goals and plans that man — with His finite mind — is incapable of understanding.
God is always peering into next week and next year, and is desiring to coordinate our steps in the present to fulfill longer-term goals.
Proverb 14:12 has a similar theme:”There is a way which seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.”
Situations come up in our lives that in the short-term seem the right thing to do. In fact, they could be down-right beneficial. But this decision heads us down a certain path and God says that the “end” or long-term result of this decision — which could be months or even years away — is death or destruction.
A classic example of this is found in 11 Chronicles 16 involving King Asa of Judah. In the 36th year of his reign, King Baasha of Israel attacked King Asa.
In a moment of desperation, Asa sent treasure — including valuable items from the House of God — to entice King Benhadad of Aram to break a treaty he had previously made with the King of Israel. Aram and Israel’s treaty was a typical one where your enemy is my enemy.
The bribe succeeded. Benhadad broke his treaty with Israel and attacked Israel’s border towns forcing the Israelite King to withdraw from his attack against Judah.
King Asa had achieved everything he wanted. His strategy had worked. He successfully broke the treaty between Aram and Israel and forced Israel to withdraw. Asa was no doubt patting himself on the back.
But a short time later a seer showed up at King Asa’s doorstep and condemned him for what he had done.
The prophet said:
“For the eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His. You have acted foolishly in this. Indeed, from now on you will surely have wars.” (v 9 NASV).
You see God also had a strategy.
The seer then makes a jaw-dropping statement declaring that because of Asa’s actions, King Benhadad had escaped out of Judah’s hands (v 7).
When Israel attacked Judah, God planned to use the treaty between Israel and Aram, to draw King Benhadad into this war. Once Benhadad showed up, God was going to deliver the Aramean king into Asa’s hands.
Unfortunately, the very treaty that Asa so skillfully broke was a critical part of God’s long-term strategy.
Because of this failure, Judah would be going down a different road now — one involving many wars.
There was something in Asa’s heart that hindered him from fully trusting God. Certainly, if Asa had completely trusted God, in the natural things were going to get a lot worse before they got better, particularly when the King of Aram joined Israel in its battle against Judah.
Though Asa succeeded, his success fell far short of everything God had for him. God wanted to write a whole different chapter than what we have recorded now.
It was the story on what might have been.