Reading Time: 5 Minutes
A television commercial from years gone by said, “When E. F. Hutton speaks, everyone listens.”
It is always a good idea to listen to an authority, whether it is financial, or some other source of good information.
If we are willing to listen to human authority, how much more should we be tuned to the voice of God.
Silence in the Courtroom
When God calls all people to listen, silence is imperative.
Listen to me in silence, O coastlands;
let the peoples renew their strength;
let them approach, then let them speak;
let us together draw near for judgment. (Isaiah 41.1)
“Coastlands” is Isaiah’s way of referring to the entire world. The scene is a courtroom and we are all called to listen to God.
In God’s courtroom, he is the judge, the prosecuting attorney, the bailiff, and everything else except the defendant.
As we listen to his decision, this is the verdict.
Who has roused a victor from the east,
summoned him to his service?
He delivers up nations to him,
and tramples kings under foot;
he makes them like dust with his sword,
like driven stubble with his bow.
He pursues them and passes on safely,
scarcely touching the path with his feet. (Isaiah 41.2-3)
Most scholars believe the “victor from the east” is a reference to Cyrus, the Persian king, who delivered God’s people from exile in Babylon. If so, these words are a prophecy from Isaiah of things to come.
God’s activity in human history is not limited to one instance. He delivered his people from bondage in Egypt years before Isaiah was written.
He delivered the world from bondage to sin through Jesus years after Isaiah penned his great book.
The primary verdict in God’s courtroom is that he is at work in the world and all humans should take notice.
In case anyone is wondering about who is behind life-changing events in the world, God makes it clear.
Who has performed and done this,
calling the generations from the beginning?
I, the Lord, am first,
and will be with the last. (Isaiah 41.4)
The phrase, “I, the Lord, am first,” is reminiscent of the sacred name that God revealed to Moses. God set Moses aside and instructed him to free more than a million Hebrew slaves from Egyptian rule.
Moses dared to ask God his name and God graciously responded:
“God said to Moses, ‘I am who I am.’
“He said further, ‘Thus you shall say to the Israelites, I am has sent me to you'” (Exodus 3.14).
My YouTube video partner, Rudy Ross, pointed out in today’s video that God’s name is always in the verb form. His revealed name reveals that he is active for the good of his creation.
My Hebrew professor in seminary expanded on the “I AM” message to Moses and translated it, “I will continue to be what I always have been.”
What has God always been? He has been gracious, loving, just, righteous, and holy – all for the benefit of humans.
A Tragic Response
The response of the nations is very unfortunate. Instead of turning to God in faith, they built an idol hoping that it would protect them from God’s judgment.
If you don’t know and trust God, dependence on substitutes for God will be your response to him. However, idols are extremely poor substitutes.
The coastlands have seen and are afraid,
the ends of the earth tremble;
they have drawn near and come.
Each one helps the other,
saying to one another, “Take courage!”
The artisan encourages the goldsmith,
and the one who smooths with the hammer encourages the one who strikes the anvil,
saying of the soldering, “It is good”;
and they fasten it with nails so that it cannot be moved. (Isaiah 41.5-7)
If people refuse to submit to God’s rule and right to direct their lives, they will construct something laughable in its weakness. Much of contemporary culture is filled with examples of how people choose idols over God.
Years ago, I heard a wise preacher say, “When people turn from God, they don’t turn to nothing, they turn to anything.”
Addiction, mindless entertainment and activity, and blaming God are some of the ways that unbelieving people respond to God’s judgmental activity.
The Apostle Paul is an example of someone who served an idol. In his case, it was his belief in what was the true religion.
If we want to turn from rebellion and idols to Jesus, then the way Jesus encountered Paul and Paul’s response gives us a good example.
Paul was on his way to Damascus to persecute followers of Jesus, “Now as he was going along and approaching Damascus, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him.
“He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?’
“He asked, ‘Who are you, Lord?’
“The reply came, ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. But get up and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.'” (Acts 9.3-6).
Like the nations in Isaiah’s day, God brought Paul into his courtroom. God struck Paul to the ground in judgment and grace. If Paul had continued in rebellion, he would have been judged.
Praise God, the experience was one of grace.
Rather than rushing to build an idol of his making, Paul acknowledged the voice as “Lord.” Even though he didn’t know who struck him down, he recognized him as a person of rank, power, and influence.
Even though Paul had made a career out of persecuting followers of Jesus, he was willing to follow Jesus’ guidance and go to the city for further instructions. His response allowed him to experience the goodness of God’s grace.
God is active in history – past, present, and future. We can attempt to construct substitutes for him, or we can be like Paul.
Let’s choose to listen to his voice, recognize his right to rule our lives, and follow his guidance.
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.