"'We have made a covenant with death,
and with Sheol we have made a pact.
The overwhelming scourge will not reach us
when it passes by,
For we have made falsehood our refuge
and we have concealed ourselves with deception.'
Therefore thus says the Lord God,
'Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone,
a tested stone,
a costly conrnerstone for the foundation,
He who believes in it will not be disturbed.
and I will make justice the measuring line,
and righteousness the level;
then hail shall sweep away the refuge of lies,
and the waters shall overflow the secret place.
And your covenant with death shall be cancelled,
and your pact with Sheol will not stand;
When the overwhelming scourge passes through,
then you will become its trampling place"
Judgment and mercy, mercy and judgment.... Yep, here it is again! I am amazed at the frequency of this theme. It is good that I am not God - everyone would have already been wiped out after the first offer!
In the continuing swing of this repetitive pendulum be reminded that "The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness and truth; who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin; yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished...." (Ex 34:6-7). He is holy and therefore He will and He must deal with sin, but He is not capricious, He is not ruled by passions as we are. His judgement is always right on time and is always with the most righteous of motives. Yes, He is slow to anger - but He is also a God of holy anger.
Judah is warned here. Isaiah, in verse 14 warns them not to be scoffers. They have "made a covenant with death." They have made a pact with Sheol." In arrogant pride they have told themselves that they can have sin and safety all at the same time! "To think of making death our friend while by sin we are making God our enemy, is the greatest absurdity." (Matthew Henry)
Judah thinks itself invincible. They boast that "the overwhelming scourge will not reach us when it passes by." Hello - it is an overwhelming scourge and you will be overwhelmed by it! Wow, how pride and arrogance blind us. That is why pride 'goeth before a fall," for in our scoffing blindness we cannot see the pit though it is as big as the ocean.
They have "made falsehood their refuge and have concealed [themselves] with deception." How foolish to trust in falsehood! Their confidence is fragile and their trust is as in a spider's web in the middle of a hurricane (Job 8:14). Isaiah tells them as much a few verses later: "Then hail shall sweep away the refuge of lies" (vs 17). They have built on a fault line and the quake will come. They have built on the sand and the torrential downpour of God's wrath will wash them away. How often do I make falsehood my refuge? I do it everytime I trust in anything other than my God. I trust in falsehood when I look for security in my friends rather than in the Friend who sticks closer than a brother. I trust in falsehood everytime I walk in the counsel of the wicked rather than in the counsel of the Word. I trust in falsehood every time I choose to sin rather than to obey!
How foolish we are to trust in the lies of sin and think that we are safe. Isaiah's words are illustrative in verse 20: "The bed is too short on which to stretch out, and the blanket is too small to wrap oneself in." Attempts to find shelter in anything but Christ will be insufficient. He alone is a rock upon which our lives can be foundationally secure.
Judgment - here it is again. Here it is deserved again. The bed of pride is too short and the blanket of falsehood is too small - they are a house made of straw and sticks and they will not stand up against the huffing and puffing that is on the way. Yet, along with the proclamation of judgement comes the offer of mercy. "Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a tested stone, a costly cornerstone for the foundation, firmly placed. He who believes in it will not be disturbed." (vs 16)
I think that tested, costly stone is worth a posting of it's own. At this rate I'm going to be in Isaiah for a year! :)
Thankful for a long bed,