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Human failure is not the last word in a person’s life. Often our failure leads us desperately appeal to God for his help.
The people of the Southern Kingdom (Judah and capital city, Jerusalem) became desperate when all of their schemes failed. Their failure brought them to a place where God was able to come to their aid.
God’s people had turned away from his direction and resorted to compromises with the surrounding nations. They agreed to pay enormous sums of money to Assyria in hopes that the nation may not conquer them.
Assyria was more than willing to accept the treasures of Jerusalem, but they didn’t honor the treaty with Judah. Instead, they invaded the nation.
Isaiah described the impact of the event like this.
Listen! the valiant cry in the streets;
the envoys of peace weep bitterly.
The highways are deserted,
travelers have quit the road.
The treaty is broken,
its oaths are despised,
its obligation is disregarded. (Isaiah 33.7-8)
The best that Judah’s leaders could produce was bitter weeping and barrenness.
Barrenness and pain can usually be traced to prideful self-reliance instead of trust in God.
When we have reached an end to our human schemes and plans, God has an opportunity to work with us.
Rudy Ross, frequently mentions in our YouTube videos that the truth, “God so loved the world,” is a ruling principle of his character.
God desires to show his love to us, but he must wait until we are willing to receive it. When humans failed, God had to opportunity to act on their behalf.
“Now I will arise,” says the Lord,
“Now I will lift myself up;
now I will be exalted. (Isaiah 33.10)
While bear hunting, one of my friends walked upon a bear that was feeding. When the bear arose, what appeared at first to be a small bear, was one that was nearly seven feet tall and far too close to him.
Thankfully, my friend was a good shot and the bear now is a trophy in his living room.
When I thought of God arising and lifting himself up, I thought of the bear. God arises and is exalted, but humans have no defense against his might.
God’s presence reveals that our human pride is nothing more than chaff.
You conceive chaff, you bring forth stubble;
your breath is a fire that will consume you. (Isaiah 33.11)
Psalm 1 pictures people who follow God’s direction as fruitful trees.
They are like trees
planted by streams of water,
which yield their fruit in its season,
and their leaves do not wither.
In all that they do, they prosper. (Psalm 1.3)
People who live according to the rules of this age are nothing more than “chaff.”
The wicked are not so,
but are like chaff that the wind drives away. (Psalm 1.4)
As a minister, I have had occasion to frequent cemeteries. I have never seen a grave marker that described the sum of a person’s life with the inscription, “Here Lies a ‘Chaff’ Person.”
God acts so we can take notice and respond to his grace. This is the process that takes place after God arises and condemns the “chaff” people.
(1) Just like a seven-foot-tall bear got my friend’s attention, so God’s actions cause people to recognize the One with whom they are dealing.
Hear, you who are far away, what I have done;
and you who are near, acknowledge my might.
The sinners in Zion are afraid;
trembling has seized the godless:
“Who among us can live with the devouring fire?
Who among us can live with everlasting flames?” (Isaiah 33.13-14)
When Isaiah saw God in his glory he exclaimed, “Woe is me! I am lost” (Isaiah 6.5). That is the proper response to a holy God.
(2) When we meet God he changes our lives, and we begin to imitate his character.
Those who walk righteously and speak uprightly,
who despise the gain of oppression,
who wave away a bribe instead of accepting it,
who stop their ears from hearing of bloodshed
and shut their eyes from looking on evil,
They will live on the heights;
their refuge will be the fortresses of rocks;
their food will be supplied, their water assured. (Isaiah 33.15-16)
I often recommend the Gospel of Mark as an excellent starting point to discover who Jesus is. It is a short book that shows how Jesus’ first followers experienced him.
These people who spent hours each day with Jesus often misunderstood Jesus. There were times when their motives were wrong. However, the more they walked with Jesus, the more they became like him.
As we consider the list of character traits above, we can be assured that every person who seeks to live with Jesus and like Jesus will have them.
God promises those who follow him in this manner that they will experience God’s protection and care.
This is truly the only way to live with God who reveals himself as a devouring fire.
About This Blog
Rudy Ross is an excellent student of Isaiah. Rudy and I have a video you can see on the Bob Spradling YouTube Chanel.
Rudy will bring a different dimension to Isaiah than what is in my blog. I hope you will check out and enjoy my interviews with him.
I am indebted to a book by Dr. John Oswalt on Isaiah for his insights into this powerful book.
If you have a prayer request, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or private message me on Facebook. The Maywood Baptist prayer team will pray for you.