Isaiah 29:13–16; 30:1–3, 15–18 comment (0)
March 19, 2009
By Dale Younce
Related Scripture: Isaiah 29:13–16; 30:1–3, 15–18
Explore the Bible
Professor of Christian Studies, School of Christian Studies, University of Mobile
Follow the Lord’s Will
Isaiah 29:13–16; 30:1–3, 15–18
Many adults use the expression “God’s will” to explain a variety of events ranging from accidental death to winning the lottery to natural disasters to success in war. This usage of the phrase assumes that everything that occurs is exactly what God has actively willed to happen. This assumption reduces God’s will to fatalism. It overlooks the divine gift of human responsibility and a will free to make choices that have consequences. Because God has entrusted us with responsibility, we can say the consequences of our bad choices are God’s will only in the sense that He permits them. That is not to say He desires the bad choices or causes them. God wants the best for His people. Therefore He wants us to recognize Him as Lord and follow His guidance for our everyday living.
What Is Worship? (29:13–14)
The people of Jerusalem, while professing to know God, were involved in formal acts of worship. But they did not worship Him from the heart. Their worship was fake submission. Their fear of God was artificial ritual and contained no love for Him. They were more concerned with man-made tradition and rules than His Word, which promotes justice and mercy. What knowledge of spiritual truth they retained would be taken from them until they would be left with nothing but sterile agnosticism or pagan superstition. Their so-called worship consisted only of empty words rather than devoted obedience to the Lord. It led away from wisdom and obedience to God’s will. We begin to discern the Lord’s will by worshiping Him in spirit and truth.
Who’s in Charge? (29:15–16)
God, through Isaiah, pronounced judgment upon those who thought they could hide their actions from Him. In fact, they thought He did not see their deeds because they did them at night. They thought their secret plans for political alliances with foreign powers were not known to God. Judah’s leaders were negotiating in secret with pagan allies. Their confused and twisted thinking led them to look to pagans for deliverance rather than trust in the Lord. Such thinking caused them to try to reverse true values, putting man at the top of the scale and God at the bottom. The thing created is not more valuable than the creator. A clay pot cannot deny the potter made it, nor does the machine call its inventor dumb. God is not subject to man’s puny evaluation, nor does He tolerate man’s behaving as if man exists for man’s sake. People who deny His lordship and make their own plans will experience His judgment and discipline. We best grow in our ability to discern the Lord’s will by recognizing He is our Maker and Redeemer and giving priority to His purpose.
Who Knows Best? (30:1–3)
By asking Egypt for military help, the leaders of Judah revealed their lack of trust in the Lord. God’s message of “woe” spotlights the foolishness of attempting to make an alliance with Egypt to defend against the Assyrian threat. A powerful political faction in Judah wanted Egyptian protection rather than God’s. The prophet, who voiced God’s hostility to such an alliance, spoke to these people as if they were obstinate children. They did not have the correct perspective to know what was best for them. By looking to Egypt, they abandoned God’s plan and Spirit, piling sin on top of sin. An alliance with Egypt, made without consulting the Lord, destined Judah to shame. To depend upon Egypt, a crumbling empire, was useless and would result only in disgrace. Carrying out plans contrary to His revealed will ends in humiliating dishonor.
What Should We Do? (30:15–18)
With gracious compassion, the Lord called for the nation to return to Him; only in Him are found confidence and strength. But the people wanted none of it. Consequently they would be forced to flee and be scattered so that they would appear to be like a solitary banner on a distant hill. Yet the Lord waited for their return to Him; for those who return, there is help. God’s mercy and help await those who abandon their plans, rely upon Him and wait patiently for Him to act.