Thursday, January 06, 2011
Today’s Topic: God Is Working On Us
Today’s Text: Isaiah 28:21 and 29 The LORD will rise up as he did at Mount Perazim, he will rouse himself as in the Valley of Gibeon—to do his work, his strange work, and perform his task, his alien task… All this also comes from the LORD Almighty, wonderful in counsel and magnificent in wisdom.
I am fascinated by this twenty-eighth chapter of Isaiah. I hope you can bear with me as we share what is now our fourth Connecting Point from this passage. If you care to review, you can connect to these links. https://lifelinkdevo.wordpress.com/2010/12/02/are-you-listening/
What fascinates me is the modern day application of these historical events and how we as Christians need to wake up to what God is doing around and in us. A good friend yesterday helped me to put the whole chapter in perspective and brought out the truths that we need to understand. Here’s what Curt Kregness wrote to me from Sao Paulo, Brazil:
God, through Isaiah, is taking the leaders of Judah (called Ephraim here) to task for their alliance with Egypt in order to escape from the Assyrians. This is the “covenant with death” mentioned in v. 15 and 18. Judah should be looking to the precious cornerstone (v. 16) for its sure foundation, and not to human strength.
So, the short bed and the narrow blanket of v. 20 is a metaphor for Judah’s misplaced trust. The alliance with Egypt will offer no rest, no comfort, for Ephraim (ESV Study Bible). The strange work and alien task of the Lord, v. 21, is having to fight against his own people because of their disobedience. The mention of Mount Perazim and the Valley of Gibeon is ironic, because in those two battles God fought for Israel against their enemies. Now he must resist his people because they are rebelling against him.
The final section of the chapter uses another metaphor—the farmer. The breaking up and turning over of the soil, although costly, has a purpose: to produce grain to make bread, v. 28. “All this comes from the Lord Almighty, wonderful in counsel and magnificent in wisdom,” v. 29.
My conclusion for this passage would be that God loves us so much that he is willing to take extreme measures to get our attention and win us back to his family. His wisdom is completely trustworthy, even when we turn our backs on him and suffer the tragic consequences of our sin.
We are not all that different from the people of Isaiah’s day. We are at times more intimately connected to the world than we are to Jesus Christ our Savior. We are at times more interested in finding satisfaction and fulfillment from the world than we are from God. We even at times scoff and mock at the things God calls us to do and the people He asks us to become, justifying our worldly connections to one another with humanistic rationalizations. We even at times incorporate spiritual ideas into our arguments to satisfy the fleshly desire we have to be accepted by God in what we are doing. My friends, think about this carefully. You will discover that there is far too much truth in what I just wrote.
Then on top of all of that, the one more thing from verse twenty-one – God’s work has become strange and alien to us. We have become so engrossed in the lifestyle of the world, and so convinced that we can love both the world and God and use both for our own fulfillment and satisfaction, that when we look to see what God is doing around us we don’t recognize Him. How sad it is when God initiates a work in our lives and we mock it or scoff at it because it doesn’t fit into our personal life plan or our daily schedule of approved activities. We have become so in touch with what we want from the world that we are out of touch with the touch of God on our lives. We have chosen to believe that the social and financial benefits of living in our modern civilization are our rights and we choose to pursue them rather than pursue what God wants for us.
I know this is heavy, and sounds ominous. It is. That’s the point. We have so bought into the world’s system that the things of God seem burdensome to us. But you must know this – God will not stop loving us or pursuing us. We may not like what happens to finally get our attention, but He will win us back to Himself. Every event of our lives today will be an opportunity for us to turn from the pursuit of pleasure and prosperity in the world to a personal and productive relationship with Almighty God. By contrast, according to verse twenty two, those same circumstances can make life tougher. The Lord says, “Now stop your mocking, or your chains will become heavier.” You see, what we think we are doing to find satisfaction in life by pursuing the values of the world is really wrapping us up more tightly in the chains of bondage to the world so we see and know less and less of God.
The chapter concludes with good news for us all. God is working to bring us to fullness in Christ. We may not like what He has to do to bring us back, but it is a work of love. His plan is timed perfectly to bring in the greatest harvest of righteous souls possible. He is breaking up the soil of our hardened hearts. He is planting seeds of righteousness. He will harvest those seeds by beating away all the chaff. Then we will stand before the people of this world as reflections of His glory. Look at your life today – God is working on you because He loves you and wants all of you. Embrace what happens as His expression of love to you.