“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.” – Isaiah 26:3-4 (ESV)
We long for peace but struggle to have it.
Every book of the prophets shows us different aspects of the good news that would come in Christ. Isaiah is packed with prophecies of how He rescued His people as their suffering Savior. He was rejected, despised, ridiculed, ignored, mocked, beaten, and ultimately killed. Just as importantly, Isaiah reveals that God’s people, too, will suffer in this life. We suffer not only under the weight of this broken world, we suffer because our sinful nature tries to find rest in ourselves, our religion, other people, and the stuff of this world. The Lord calls us to rest in Him alone. (Isaiah 7:9, 10:20, 12:2, 26:3-4, 28:12, 30:15-18, 32:17-18, 36:1-37:38, 55:1-7, etc.)
Yet He also promises peace now and forever to such undeserving people through His coming Son (Isaiah 2:2-4, 19:19-25, 25:6-9, 56:3-8, 6618-23, etc.). How is this possible?
Why pay attention to our pain?
Like all the other prophets, Isaiah continually addresses these and other specific themes of bad news calling God’s people to turn from foolish “rests” and turn to the Lord Jesus. Why? Only when we’re convinced that we have a stubborn cancer will we turn to a Surgeon to open us up again and again.
Ever since He led them out of Egypt the Israelites had taken God’s graces for granted. In Isaiah, we see that they were ignoring His proper discipline, too. (Isaiah 1:4-5 & 19-20, 8:6 & 19-22, 9:13, 14:13, 30:9 & 15, 42:18-25 ) Ignoring bad news may bring us temporary bliss, but it will cost us far more eventually.
One of the primary themes of the good news in Isaiah is that the peace of His followers now and the hope of His eternal paradise later both come through a purifying fire (Isaiah 1:25, 4:4, 6:6, 9:5, 42:25, 43:2, 48:10, etc). We must not only desire the surgery, we must endure the burning chemotherapy, if you will. The proud will endure a different type of burning (Isaiah 1:31, 5:24, 9:19, 10:16-17, 29:6, 30:27-33, 33:11-14, etc.).
Many scholars often refer to Isaiah 24-27 as the “little apocalypse” because those chapters describe the same fires of purification (and judgment) that we see in Revelation. The verses from our collaboration theme process are appropriately in the middle of the little apocalypse.
There is only one way that our wayward souls can follow a holy God
and weather the spiritual wilderness of this broken world, We have to rest on the rock-steady grace of Christ.
Isaiah describes several ways the Lord will give rest to His people:
- He will establish His righteous King like David, but this King will be perfect and eternal (Isaiah 7:14; 9:2–7; 11:1–10, 42:1–9; 52:13–53:12, 61:1–3, 63:1–6)
- He will make His people into a community of worship from nations around the world (Isaiah 2:2–4; 56:3–8; 66:18–23)
- He will use everything, even sin, to reveal His goodness (Isaiah 44:24–45:13); and
- He will transform this broken world into a glorious world of peace forever. (Isaiah 11:10; 40:3–5; 52:10; 59:19)
One of the most important themes is that only the repentant will receive this blessings of rest. (Isaiah 1:1-20, 28:14-23, 30:18-26, 37:1-38, 44:8-22, 53:6, 58:1-14, 59:1-20, 64:6, etc.) The vast majority of the people to whom Isaiah prophesied were already religious but only outwardly religious with no real love for God. (Isaiah 1:10-17, 29:13-14, 58:1-12, 66:1-4, etc.) The Lord called them and still calls us to love purity because He is pure and to live as His Messiah would live: pushing through the pain of this world, sacrificing our own comfort so others could know the Prince of peace who gladly gives, even at great cost to Himself.
We can never find such love, hope, and rest in anyone else.
Isaiah begins recording His prophecy by dating it in the times of four of Judah’s kings, three of whom (Uzziah, Jotham, and Hezekiah) were some of the most godly that Judah had known. Yet, two ended their reigns in shocking moral disgrace (compare Uzziah’s beginning and end in 2 Chronicles 26 and Hezekiah’s in 2 Kings 18-20), and Ahaz was consistently one of the most wicked. We can’t turn to human leaders to bring us rest in this wilderness – not our political officials, not our husbands, not even our PWOC leaders. We certainly can’t ensure rest through our wayward hearts. We must rest in the perfect forgiveness, purifying power, and eternal commitment of Jesus, our Rock. Only He is rock-steady in purity, purpose, grace, power, wisdom, and everything else we need to rest while we journey through this wilderness to be home with Him and His people forever.
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Consider these pictures of peace from Matt Maher’s “40 Days”
He gives us His Character – Galatians 4:8-9, Col. 3:16, Ephesians 3:19, John 17:3
He brings us wisdom, counsel and understanding – Job 12:13
He is the author of our faith – Hebrews 12
He gives us assurance of hope, faith, patience, and holiness that inherits the promises – Hebrews 6
He satisfies – Psalm 63:1-2
He gives His Spirit for obedience – Acts 5:32
He declares judgments and shows compassion and encouragement to trust Him – Numbers 14:11
He gives us His strength – Psalm 18:16-19, 2 Cor. 1:21, Exodus 15:2
He gives us rest – Psalm 95, 1 Chron. 23:25
He gives us peace and foundation and brings focus and meaning – Isaiah 26:3-4
He brings us rest – Psalm 95
He gives healing and salvation – Hosea 11:4He lives in fellowship with us – Acts 14:22, Titus 2, John 10:25, Col. 2:2
In the desert, or during correction, God teaches – Mark 8:34-38, 1 Peter 4:3-4, Acts 26:19-30
He gathers and leads us as the good shepherd – John 10:2-5
Alternate Theme Graphic Files
Slide Backgrounds & Clipart