During our Tuesday Night Bible Study a couple of weeks ago, we really focussed in on Isaiah 30:15
This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says:
“In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it.”
For a little context, God and Isaiah are being critical of an alliance made by King Hezekiah with Egypt. It is a bit complicated, but Judah had been called on by Syria and Israel to oppose Assyria. When Judah refused to get involved, they teamed up to attack Judah. Judah’s King Ahaz reached out and agreed to pay tribute to Assyria for protection and Assyria attacked Syria and Israel. When Hezekiah came to the throne after his father Ahaz, he watched Israel be destroyed and scattered. It appears that some of his officials decided that Assyria would eventually conquer Judah despite paying the tribute. So they began negotiating with the one other power in the region, Egypt. In the end a treating was signed and tribute was sent to Egypt instead of Assyria. We can only guess that officials did this and Hezekiah only went with it as the process was too far along to easily stop, as Isaiah is not critical of the king.
Hezekiah wasn’t a bad king, in fact he is generally held up as not only being a righteous king, but one of the great kings. He was a Yahweh Restorationist after the reign of his father Ahaz, who did evil in the eyes of God. He attempted to reunite Israel and Judah in faith while they were still separated politically, he successfully led his nation while Israel was destroyed, and would later lead them in their resistance against Assyria. After him, only his great-grandson, Josiah, would be counted among the righteous kings.
However, in this instance, he and his government decided that they could solve this Assyria problem without consulting God. They forgot God’s promise to protect Judah or maybe they simply believed that they had to make the promise come true. This is not the first time in the Bible that humans decided that they had to fulfill God’s promises.
Abraham kept making the same mistake. When God had not given him an heir to fulfill the promise of making him a great nation, Abraham appointed Eliezer, his servant and friend, his heir. God said that his heir would be his son. So Abraham and Sarah conspired to get a child through Hagar, Sarah’s Egyptian slave. God said, “No,” the heir would come from his legal wife Sarah and God’s intervention. Finally Isaac was born, and through him God’s promise was fulfilled.
God and Isaiah are critical of Judah looking for protection of a foreign power, instead of God. Their concerns prove accurate, when Assyria became angry for the lack of tribute and invaded. They besieged Jerusalem and Egypt failed to come. Hezekiah began mourning only to be reminded by Isaiah that God would protect them. Overnight, many Assyrians died mysteriously (2 Kings and 2 Chronicles both claim it was an Angel of the Lord) and they retreated. God fulfills the promise without human intervention.
30:15 is a reminder that the people should not strive to fulfill God’s promises, but to allow God to work in God’s time. If we claim that we wish for God to rule over our lives and hearts, then we need to let God do so. But this leads to a conundrum: how are we to square this lesson from Isaiah with the commands of Jesus to work on bringing about the Kingdom? Are we to work to make this world a more peaceful, just, and Christ-centered world? Or should we wait until Christ returns and the world is transformed?
My opinion, we often believe that we are gifted with holy tools to transform the world, but the truth is that we are God’s tools. In other words, we should not see ourselves as drivers of the car, but as the car that God is driving. We need to ask: are we allowing God to work through us and our actions are God centered? There are many people who have decided to act as God’s representatives on Earth but are driving the car where an how they want. So as we begin this New Year, repent and rest in the Lord, trust that the one Who Made You and All Things will make the best choices for you and the world. Let God make use of you and your life.
Happy New Year!