For thus said the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel, “In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.” But you were unwilling...
Two words that are often used by parents to describe teenagers are ‘impatient’ and ‘rebellious’. They want everything in life to happen in the fast forward mode and in the manner they desire. But we tend to carry on these teen traits even into our adulthood. If we look at the history of Israel in the scriptures, God addresses this issue several times.
Prophet Isaiah hears these words of God at a crucial time in Israel’s history. It was 700 BC. The northern kingdom of Israel had recently perished to an Assyrian invasion. Their cousins in Judah were the next target. King Hezekiah, who was on the throne in Jerusalem, had to make some quick decisions. He had three options - to look within his kingdom and muster an army to fight the Assyrians, to look out for possible allies who would help him or to look up to God for counsel.
The king was impatient to wait for God’s timing and decided to ally with Egypt. He sent envoys to seal a deal and spent precious resources to buy the support of the Egyptians. God saw this act of Judah as rebellion and even suicidal.
Judah’s sin was twofold. Firstly, they looked for a quick fix solution and trusted in the same evil empire that God had saved their forefathers from. Secondly, they banked on the empty words of a cunning empire than relying on the eternal promises of a loving God. Judah in essence had rejected God’s protection, provision and direction. In the verse quoted above, God addresses the two things that the nation were desperately seeking - protection from enemies and strength to survive.
God reminded them that only when they returned to him and rested in him would they be safe. Only when they quietly waited for God’s time and trusted him, they would find strength.
Everyday we find ourselves having to make choices like Hezekiah. And just like him, we look for shortcuts and easy way outs. We go back and ally with the filth of Egypt that the Lord saved us from. We rely more on man and man-made solutions. We go with whatever is popular in the culture around us. God is often just a backup plan or the last resort if nothing else works. We say we trust in God but our behaviour reveals otherwise.
So even for us these words of Isaiah holds true - return and rest, quieten and trust.
Despite Hezekiah's rebellion God was merciful. The entire army of besieging Assyrians was defeated in a single night without an arrow being fired by the kings’s army!
In a chaotic world, it is easy to panic and go with the flow. Like impatient teenagers, we become restless and look for quick solutions. Today, God reminds us that his ways and his plans are way different from ours. We need not trust in man or “follow our heart”. All we need to do is return to him, rest in him and wait and trust for his perfect time.