Posted by: Heather | October 24, 2009

Perfect Peace

Recently, I have been convicted that I am not enough of a “man of the text.” Much of what should be obvious to me in the teachings of Christ, is not obvious to me because I do not know the scriptures Jesus was quoting. So, I have committed to God that I will spend time in the Old Testament reading what is there. How will I understand what Jesus was saying if I don’t know the context of the quotes? Even worse, often times I don’t even recognize what He says as a quote! Such a humbling realization. God has been so patient with me.

So, I have begun reading where I am weakest. That would be the prophets. After all, who wants to read about death and destruction, sin and judgment? But, it is God’s word, and a man of the text will know what is there. Furthermore, I must meet God on His terms, not pick and choose on my own terms. God said it. What more reason should I need for reading it?

I was reading a couple of chapters per night for a while. There were many things in there I had never noticed before, and have been very interesting to me. I might bring them up some time later. However, I got stuck in chapter 26. Let me set up the scene.

In chapter 1, God lays out His case against Israel, His chosen people. It doesn’t look good. Look at these verses for example:

Isaiah 1:12-15 MKJV
(12) When you come to appear before Me, who has required this at your hand, to trample My courts?
(13) Bring no more vain sacrifice; incense is an abomination to Me; the new moon and sabbath, the going to meeting; I cannot endure evil and the assembly!
(14) Your new moons and your appointed feasts My soul hates; they are a trouble to Me; I am weary to bear them.
(15) And when you spread out your hands, I will hide My eyes from you; yea, when you make many prayers, I will not hear; your hands are full of blood.

God tells Isaiah what his perspective is to be in these verses. His hope is not to be in this nation, or it’s political power. His view is to be different.

Isaiah 8:11-17 MKJV
(11) For so Jehovah spoke to me with a strong hand, and warned me against walking in the way of this people, saying,
(12) Do not say, A conspiracy! to everything of which this people says, A conspiracy! And do not fear their fear, nor be afraid.
(13) Sanctify Jehovah of Hosts Himself, and let Him be your fear, and let Him be your dread.
(14) And He shall be a sanctuary for you, but for a stone of stumbling, and for a rock of falling to both the houses of Israel, for a trap and for a snare to the people of Jerusalem.
(15) And many among them shall stumble and fall and be broken, and be snared, and be taken.
(16) Bind up the testimony, seal the Law among My disciples.
(17) And I will wait on Jehovah, who hides His face from the house of Jacob; and I will look for Him.

Of course, this is after Isaiah saw the Lord!

Isaiah 6:1-8 MKJV
(1) In the year that King Uzziah died I then saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and His train filled the temple.
(2) Above it stood the seraphs; each one had six wings; with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew.
(3) And one cried to another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is Jehovah of Hosts; the whole earth full of His glory.
(4) And the doorposts moved at the voice of the one who cried, and the house was filled with smoke.
(5) Then I said, Woe is me! For I am undone; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, Jehovah of Hosts.
(6) Then one of the seraphs flew to me, having a live coal in his hand, snatched with tongs from the altar.
(7) And he laid it on my mouth and said, Lo, this has touched your lips; and your iniquity is taken away, and your sin purged.
(8) And I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then I said, Here am I; send me!

Chapter after chapter of God’s predicted (promised) judgment on this nation and that, this city and that. Many people and places I don’t know. Very heavy reading – heart wrenching – why don’t we listen to Him? Why don’t we repent? Breaks my heart to read, these are real people and real places, these things have really happened, or will happen! Then I read this chapter.

Isaiah 26:1-21 MKJV
(1) In that day this song shall be sung in the land of Judah: We have a strong city; He sets up salvation as our walls and banks.
(2) Open the gates, and the righteous nation shall enter in, keeping faithfulness.
(3) You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You; because he trusts in You.
(4) Trust in Jehovah forever; for in the LORD JEHOVAH is everlasting strength.
(5) For He brings down those who dwell on high; He lays low the lofty city; He lays it low, even to the ground; He brings it to the dust.
(6) The foot shall trample it, the feet of the poor and the steps of the needy.
(7) The way of the just is uprightness; O Upright One, weigh the path of the just.
(8) Yea, in the way of Your judgments, O Jehovah, we awaited You; for Your name and for Your memory is the desire of our soul.
(9) With my soul I desired You in the night; yea, with my spirit within me I will seek You early; for when Your judgments are in the earth, the people of the world learn righteousness.
(10) Let favor be shown to the wicked, yet he will not learn righteousness; in the land of uprightness he will deal unjustly, and will not behold the majesty of Jehovah.
(11) Jehovah, Your hand is lifted up, they will not see; but they shall see and be ashamed for their envy toward Your people. Yes, the fire of Your enemies shall devour them.
(12) Jehovah, You will ordain peace for us; for You also have worked all our works in us.
(13) O Jehovah our God, lords besides You have had the rule over us; but by You only will we make mention of Your name.
(14) Dead ones do not live; departed spirits do not rise. Therefore You have visited and destroyed them, and made all memory of them to perish.
(15) You have increased the nation, O Jehovah, You have increased the nation; You are glorified; You have extended all the ends of the land.
(16) Jehovah, in trouble they have visited You; they poured out a prayer; Your chastening was on them.
(17) As a woman with child draws near to bear, she is in pain and cries out in her pangs; so have we been in Your sight, O Jehovah.
(18) We conceived; we have been in pain, we gave birth to wind. We have not brought about any salvation in the earth; nor have the people of the world fallen.
(19) Your dead ones shall live, together with my dead body they shall arise. Awake and sing, you who dwell in the dust; for your dew is as the dew of lights, and the earth shall cast out the dead.
(20) Come, my people, enter into your rooms and shut your doors around you; hide for a little moment, until the fury has passed by.
(21) For behold, Jehovah comes out of His place to punish the people of the earth for their iniquity; the earth also shall reveal her blood, and shall no more cover her dead.

Let me point out a few things in this chapter that I have noticed. I welcome your input, as these thoughts are deeper than I can plumb. I am barely treading water here.

Those who see God the way He is will not be in despair at the judgment of the nations. Here is why:

He will keep them in perfect peace because they trust HIM (not the nations).
He is everlasting strength, and he make the path of the righteous straight.
The righteous waits on Him, and their hope is on Him. In the night, they hope for HIM. (not for better times, or better finances; not for the market to turn, or for the potholes to be filled – not for better home school laws, or better gun laws – but their hope is in HIM)

As such, they look forward to His judgment, because they recognize that when his judgment is on the earth, people will learn righteousness!

They also recognize that all of our efforts are vain, but God’s effort is always effective. Is there any strain worse than childbirth? Yet we have given birth to wind (verse 18). However, God comes out of His place, and will quickly accomplish what He set out to do. By the way, I have been wondering about verse 21, “For behold, Jehovah comes out of His place” – does that mean what I think it means? (I am thinking of Phil 2 . . . )

Still pondering,

Craig

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