Therefore thus says the Holy One of Israel, 'Since you have rejected this word, and have put your trust in oppression and guile, and have relied on them, therefore this iniquity will be to you like a breach about to fall, a bulge in a high wall, whose collapse comes suddenly in an instant. And whose collapse is like the smashing of a potter's jar; so ruthlessly shattered that a sherd will not be found among its pieces to take fire from a hearth, or to scoop water from a cistern.'
For thus the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel, has said, 'In repentance and rest you shall be saved, in quietness and trust is your strength.' But you were not willing." (vs 8-15)
Wow! What a full passage this morning. I am personally struck and convicted by mankind's desire to have their ears tickled rather than to have their hearts pierced with the truth. (Read between the lines - I am personally struck and convicted by my desire to have my ears tickled rather than to have my heart pierced with the truth!) The Proverbs tell us "faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy bring death." What do I most want to hear - faithful hard truth or carressing pleasant words? What do I most need to hear illusions or reality - is not the answer plain? In Isaiah 30 these 'rebellious people' want to hear what the want to hear - not what they need to hear and the results will be disastrous.
It is interesting that the passage begins with the command to "write these things on a tablet" and to "inscribe them on a scroll that it may serve in the time to come." While these stubborn folks refused to receive any benefit from Isaiah's words themselves, perhaps their future generations would. Our children will learn from our response to the Word of God - oh, that they would learn from our faithfulness and not from our rebellion!
Isaiah's audience refuses to listen to the instruction of the LORD; instead they ask the seers to change their message. They would like a sermon that is a bit more palatable and easier to digest rather than an honest explanation and application of the Word of God. Hear the foolish boldness of their request: "You must not prophesy what is right, speak to us pleasant words, prophesy illusions." They literally command their prophets to prophesy falsely, to tell them what is wrong rather than to speak the truth in love. Pleasant words are damning words if they are false words. Prophetic illusions cannot be trusted for they are merely the magic tricks of Satan's trade! How ignorant and self-destructive are those who prefer the lulling lies of the enemy over the stinging scalpal of truth. The surgeon's scalpal may not feel pleasant, but it's purpose is to cut out that which will kill. It is necessary for life.
"Speak to us pleasant words.... Let us hear no more about the Holy One of Israel" (vs 11). They want pleasant words and they want a pleasant god. They want a god on their own terms and of their own devising. They want a jovial jeannie in the sky who can be rubbed whenever they sense a need. Sinners do not want God to be holy. That attribute is the one they dread above all others for God's holiness will undo them just as it did Isaiah in chapter 6.
They may not want to hear of God's holiness, but Isaiah recognizes that it is the thing they most need to hear of. I had to chuckle this morning at the bantering conversation between them. Rebellious Judah declares: "Let us hear no more about the Holy One of Israel." Isaiah's very next words are: "Therefore, thus says the Holy One of Israel." They don't want to hear but they must be told!
Isaiah is a faithful friend. He will not tickle their ears. He loves them enough to wound them with the truth. He loves them enough to point out that the God they don't want is the very God they must deal with. He is holy and the truth of that attribute will either cause us to run to Him for mercy (which we will find in Christ) or to run from Him in our foolish pride (which will lead to our eternal judgment and destruction). The latter is not an ear tickling statement, but pleasant words and prophetic illusions will not save us from the just wages of our sin. Truth doesn't change just because I don't care for it.
They have rejected the words of Isaiah and have trusted in Egypt to save them. Isaiah says they have synonymously trusted in "oppression and guile." Their security is in reality unsecurity. The wall is breached, it bulges from their weight and it is about to collapse. Its collapse will be so great that not a big enough piece of their so-called security will remain for them to scoop up a flaming brand from the fire or a drop of water from the well. That which we lean on in the place of Christ will fail us fully!
Oh that they would have listened. Beautifully Isaiah points us to the gospel once again. "In repentance and rest you shall be saved, in quietness and trust is your strength" (vs 15). Do you see the beauty of the gospel promise there? We are to repent of our sins, to turn from them and to Christ. If we are liars we must turn from our lying, flee to the God of truth and begin to speak truth. If we are theives we must turn from our stealing and turn to the Giver of Life from Whom all blessings flow and begin to share what we have received with others. Repentance involves a change in thinking and doing.
We are to repent of our sins and we are to rest in Him alone to save us from them. I cannot save myself - only Christ, through His redeeming work on Calvary's cross in which my sins were cast upon Him and His righteousness cast upon me - can save me. It is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone that I can be saved.
We are to repent of our sins and to rest on Christ alone to save us from them and we must quietly rely on and trust in Him for the strength necessary to walk in the newness of life. That walking is the fruit of gospel conversion.
Repent, rest, rely! Here is the call of the gospel held forth - "but you were not willing to listen." How tragic for them that they did not listen. How tragic for us if we will not listen.
"The God that knew them and desired their welfare, gave them this prescription; and it is recommended to us all. Would we be saved from the evil of every calamity? It must be in repentance and rest, in returning to God and reposing in Him as our rest. Let us return from our evil ways and settle in the way of God and duty, and that is the way to be saved." (Matthew Henry)
Oh Great Physician, help me this day to be both willing to hear and willing to speak the truth in love.
Thankful for the faithful wounds of my friends and the faithful Word of my God,