For thus saith the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel; In returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength: and ye would not. Isaiah 30:15
This verse from Isaiah, was written to people who were in exile. They were far from their culture, family and roots. Though this might sound a lot like everyday life in New York, it actually referred to the kingdom of Israel. Instead of serving the God who had delivered them from Egypt, they had decided to build altars to all kinds of idols and had forsaken God. This occurred, not just for a decade or even a couple of generations, but for hundreds of years. Eventually God allowed the Assyrian empire to sweep in, conquer their land and carry most of the ruling class off into exile. It was almost as if God was said, “Okay so you want to serve foreign gods? Okay, so then you might as well and go live with other folks who already do!” But even as far as God’s people had gotten away from Him, He never abandoned them. In today’s verse He is calling for them to return home, if only in their hearts. The problem was not the Assyrians. The problem was their own stubborn hearts. Many of them liked what they were doing and instead of changing their minds about idolatry, they doubled down on their misbehavior and complained about their situation. Does that sound familiar? It should, because that describes most of us at one time or another in our lives. Our hearts have grown cold, and we have been carried far away from God. But God has not given up on us.
But how can we know that for sure? Well, think about where Jesus was sent to live. Sure, everybody knows that He was born in Bethlehem, but He didn’t stay long. Instead, Jesus grew up in Nazareth of Galilee. And where was Galilee? It was exactly where the remnants of the people who had been conquered by Assyria lived. Matthew’s gospel tells us about why by quoting from the Old Testament prophet Isaiah, “The people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light.” Now that picture of dwelling in darkness is exactly like many of our lives. We are busier than we have ever been, but in spite of all the comforts and pleasures that swirl about us, we are a community, a state, a nation and a world in turmoil. With the answer to almost any question at our fingertips we have no more peace and quiet than we had a hundred, two hundred or even two thousand years ago. We desperately need to find rest, and God is, calling out for us to come to Him to find it. But just like those ancient Israelites, we often just keep running away. The answer to our problem is not by some idyllic lake, at the top of a mountain climb or on the deck of a cruise ship. The only true and eternal quietness is in the presence of Jesus Christ and He offer it for free!
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. John 14:27 ESV
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