Isaiah 30:1-2 and 8-18 (ESV)
1 “Ah, stubborn children,” declares the LORD, “who carry out a plan, but not mine, and who make an alliance, but not of my Spirit, that they may add sin to sin; 2 who set out to go down to Egypt, without asking for my direction, to take refuge in the protection of Pharaoh and to seek shelter in the shadow of Egypt!
8 And now, go, write it before them on a tablet and inscribe it in a book, that it may be for the time to come as a witness forever. 9 For they are a rebellious people, lying children, children unwilling to hear the instruction of the LORD; 10 who say to the seers, “Do not see,” and to the prophets, “Do not prophesy to us what is right; speak to us smooth things, prophesy illusions, 11 leave the way, turn aside from the path, let us hear no more about the Holy One of Israel.” 12 Therefore thus says the Holy One of Israel, “Because you despise this word and trust in oppression and perverseness and rely on them, 13 therefore this iniquity shall be to you like a breach in a high wall, bulging out, and about to collapse, whose breaking comes suddenly, in an instant; 14 and its breaking is like that of a potter’s vessel that is smashed so ruthlessly that among its fragments not a shard is found with which to take fire from the hearth, or to dip up water out of the cistern.” 15 For thus said the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel, “In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.” But you were unwilling, 16 and you said, “No! We will flee upon horses”; therefore you shall flee away; and, “We will ride upon swift steeds”; therefore your pursuers shall be swift. 17 A thousand shall flee at the threat of one; at the threat of five you shall flee, till you are left like a flagstaff on the top of a mountain, like a signal on a hill. 18 Therefore the LORD waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the LORD is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him.
One of the things that arrived on the container this week is an executive white board. It is a heavy piece of office décor that is attached to a wall and when opened reveals a white board with two cork boards on the side. It is a great tool for planning and keeping track of things. In our family that is important. We need places, multiple places, to keep track of what is happening, what is coming up and what we need to remember. When used right it can seem to make your life efficient and easy. It can give the illusion of control.
Isaiah is speaking to Israel here but the words can be true of our own hearts. Stubborn. Carry out our own plan. Unwilling to hear. Trusting in oppression and perverseness. That is a little harsh you might be thinking. I am not that lying child. But stop and wait. In your efforts to be righteous have you planned it out on your own and in turn pushed God’s plan to the side? In your effort to feel safe have you sought the protection of something other than God because that plan doesn’t seem to be as tangible.
It is subtle most of the time. We rarely are as blunt as Isaiah is saying of Israel. “Do not see and to the prophets, do not prophesy to us what is right; speak to us smooth things, prophesy illusions, leave the way, turn aside from the path, let us hear no more about the Holy One of Israel.”
There was a time in my life where I avoided Sunday worship. Not because God is only active there during worship but because I knew for sure that I would be confronted with the things of God I was tired of hearing. I believed that if I was present in the assembly of believers that God would indeed grab my heart and break me. I didn’t want that to happen. I was glad God existed and hopeful that He loved me but was pretty sure He had screwed up my life enough and it was my time to try things out on my own. I jumped on the horse to flee. The pursuer was swifter.
What does the Holy One call us too? Returning (repenting) and rest you shall be saved. Quietness and trust will be strength. The pursuit was swift, harsh and gracious. It is deconstruction of plans, purpose, and false personality to be rebuilt in a place of rest, trust, repentance, true knowledge of who we are created to be and quiet. No longer a life of getting ahead of the game or looking for the quick fix but one of believing that it is worked out for God’s glory and that my ultimate joy, His glory.
He is exalted to show mercy. Amen and Amen.
You are exalted to show mercy, Father. You are a God of justice. Let us be blessed to wait on you. Let us rest in the knowledge that you have accomplished all that needs to be accomplished. Let us trust that you are our sure protection and refuge. Jesus, you are the answer to all questions and the end of all plans. You are the center and the one who holds all things together. You are the one who provides the rest for us to walk into. You are our Sabbath. Teach us to trust in your work and righteousness. Amen
This is not a call to not plan but it is a warning to watch. Our plans for righteous living can turn quickly into a path to pharaoh. We need to live among others each other in order to be reminded of the graciousness of God and His already accomplished work for us. Gather a small group of close fellow sojourners and talk about where you see yourself with the Father right now. Be honest with each other and speak the Truth of God’s provision and perfect plan into each other’s hearts. Listen to the encouragement to repent and rest, trust and quiet your striving.