“In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength” (Isa. 30:15, NIV)
The long-suffering character of God never ceases to amaze me. As we continue in Isaiah, these chapters show the devastation that comes to those who choose to turn away from the Lord. Yet, as much as God hates sin, he longs to show mercy. In the end, mercy triumphs over judgment—we need only to ask.
In the face of their enemy, Assyria, the Jews thought it best to take matters into their own hands:
“Woe to the obstinate children,” declares the Lord, “to those who carry out plans that are not mine, forming an alliance, but not by my Spirit, heaping sin upon sin; who go down to Egypt without consulting me: who look for help to Pharaoh’s protection, to Egypt’s shade for refuge.” (Isa. 30:1-2, NIV)
The Israelites had brought on their trouble by their sin, but now add “sin upon sin,” by placing their hope in another nation, Egypt, rather than turning to God.
We look at Israel and think, surely they should know better! Yet how often do we carry out plans that are not the Lord’s? How often do we move forward without consulting him? When we come up against trouble of any kind, we are quick to run to our own “Egypt,” those resources and people in our lives that we think will enable us to fix the problem and restore our peace. How quickly we forget the resources we have in Christ and take again the heavy yoke upon our backs. I am guilty daily of again believing the lie that it is all up to me.
Of course, our “Egypts” and best-laid plans to solve our problems fail. It may take a while, with all the resources at our disposal, but we will discover that Egypt’s “help is utterly useless” (Isa. 30:7, NIV). Isaiah is also clear about what will befall those who reject God’s way in favor of their own plan:
This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it. You said, ‘No, we will flee on horses.’ Therefore you will flee! You said, ‘We will ride off on swift horses.’ Therefore your pursuers will be swift! . . . “ (Isa. 30:15-16, NIV)
When the Israelites fled in response to God’s call to trust him, they were overtaken by their pursuers. They stepped out of God’s protection when they only needed to be still.
But there is a word of hope for those of us who are so quick to flee. Hear the long-suffering and mercy of the Lord as you read again:
Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!
People of Zion, who live in Jerusalem, you will weep no more. How gracious he will be when you cry for help! As soon as he hears, he will answer you. (Isa. 30:18-19, NIV)
And in contrast to verse 2, where we fail to consult him, hear the words of verse 21:
Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” (Isa. 30:21, NIV)
Fellow believer, this is what is available to us in Christ: That we may take off the heavy burden of supplying our own needs with our human resources, and rest fully on the finished work of Christ. He longs for us to repent, and he promises to be our guide when we do. He is our sure foundation, and in him all things hold together!
“So this is what the Sovereign Lord says: ‘See, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation; the one who trusts will never be dismayed.’” (Isa. 28:16, NIV)