Saturday, July 25, 2009

Separation -Isaiah 59

"Behold, the LORD's hand
is not so short that it cannot save;
neither is His ear so dull that it cannot hear.
But your iniquities have made a separation
between you and your God,
and your sins ahve hidden His face from you,
so that He does not hear."
(vs 1-2)

There are times when God seems distant. The all-seeing God just doesn't "seem" to be seeing us. The all-hearing God "seems" to be deaf. The ever-present God "seems" to be far away. "Seem" isn't always "so", though. At times, God is pleased to withdraw the light of His countenance from us, though He is always truly present with us. He does this in order to teach us, test us, and ultimately to conform us more and more to the image of Christ.

The Westminster Confession of Faith, in its chapter of the Assurance of Grace and Salvation says this:

"True believers may have the assurance of their salvation is divers ways shaken, diminished, and intermitted; as, by negligence in preserving of it, by falling into some special sin which woundeth the conscience and grieveth the Spirit; by some sudden or vehement temptation, by God's withdrawing the light of His countenance, and suffering even such as fear Him to walk in darkness and to have no light: yet are they never utterly destitue of that seed of God, and life of faith, that love of Christ and the brethrenn, that sincerity of heart, and conscience of duty, out of which ,by the operation of the Spirit, this assurance may, in due time, be revived; and by the which, in the meantime, they are supported from utter despair." (18:4)

Here is the TRUE believer, "feeling" forsaken by God, sensing a "shortening" of His arm and a "dulling" of His ear. The Westminster Confession, echoing the words of the Bible points out several things that may be at the heart of the matter: negligence of the means of grace, sin, temptation, Satan, even God's all-wise decision to lead us into a dark place momentarily (that we might love Him all the more when the veil is torn asunder).

In Isaiah 59 the cause of their separation is spelled out. Their iniquities and sins have put up a wall between them and have hidden God's face from them. Sin NEVER has any good consequences. We ought to hate it, yet we foolishly love it and continually return to it as a dog does to its own vomit.

When God seems distant we tend to blame Him. That's what the Israelites tried to do. However, Isaiah doesn't allow them that privilege. "The problem was not owing to God. He was still as able to help as ever. His hand is not shortened, His power is not lessened. God can reach as far as ever and with as strong a hand as ever. He was still as ready and willing to help as ever in answer to prayer."

God's ear is not so dull that it cannot hear. "If your prayers be not answered it is not because God is weary of hearing prayer but because we are weary of praying. It is not because His ears are heavy when we speak to Him, but because our ears are heavy when He speaks to us." (Matthew Henry)

Does God "seem" distant? Check yourself first. See if there is a sin within that is building up the wall of "seeming' separation. We are the ones who are prone to wander. God is an unmoving Rock. We are like shifting sand. He is a sure foundation. If you find that you have wandered, repent, believe, and watch and pray (Lk22:40,46).

God's hand is not short. His ear is not dull. His mercies are new every morning. Great is His faithfulness. In due time you will reap a harvest - a good harvest - if you will rest in and rely on Him. Don't grow weary in well-doing and trust that His grace is sufficient and that His timing is always perfect - no matter how things "seem".

Waiting, walking, and trusting

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