GEMS FROM THE OLD TESTAMENT
“Don’t just sit there—do something!”
This familiar adage applies in many situations. The crops won’t plant themselves in the spring. The cereal spilled all over the floor isn’t going to clean up itself. “If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat.”
(2 Thessalonians 3:10)
This axiom, however, does not apply at all to our being saved. Our ego finds that hard to swallow. This goes beyond the commendable inclination to be responsible and clean up after ourselves; it’s also a sinful pride thing. We would like to be able to take at least a little credit for saving ourselves—or perhaps more than just a little.
In the challenges they faced with their enemies, Israel sought security through making alliances with other nations. Maybe swift horses would be the answer!
Regarding their spiritual needs and their relationship with God, we read in the early chapters of Isaiah how most trusted in “going through the motions” of worship. They brought sacrifices; but, without repentance, God called those sacrifices futile. They lifted up their prayers with incense; but, without contrition and faith, God called that an abomination. Yes, they were going regularly to the temple; but if it was not to worship the Lord in spirit and in truth, then, from God’s perspective, they were merely trampling in His courts.
Whether dealing with external or internal matters, those people supposed the answers were to be found in what they did. The answers never were. Israel was proficient, though, in making things much worse.
It was to those people that the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel said, “In returning and rest you shall be saved; In quietness and confidence shall be your strength.” (Isaiah 30:15)
Here the word “returning” indicates repentance. “Rest” emphasizes waiting on the Lord and trusting in Him. The Lord takes salvation entirely out of the hands of His people—a good thing, because they were making a huge mess of it! They were going down paths that could only end in disappointment and destruction. Stop! Listen to the Lord instead of yourselves. His Spirit will soften your hearts and turn you around to follow the path of salvation.
When Scripture speaks of waiting on the Lord, trust is implicit in the waiting. It means to trust in the Lord’s way of resolving what we are facing and to trust in His timing—which will often be quite different from ours. “‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,’ says the Lord.” (Isaiah 55:8) For instance, who would have expected the Son of God Himself to take on the form of a humble servant and choose to suffer the wrath of God for our sins so that we would be spared? We could never have imagined that, but here it is—love beyond anything we could have hoped for or imagined.
We can listen much more effectively when we’re not talking.
Quietness is a source of strength for God’s children, because then we’re taking in what God has to say to us. Quiet time is a special blessing when it’s spent mulling over God’s Word and humbly seeking how to apply it aright. When we take in what God has done, is doing, and will do to save us, that fills us with joy, and “the joy of the Lord is your strength!” (Nehemiah 8:10)
Once again we come to this fundamental theme of Scripture: repent, trust, and quietly wait for the Lord. Stress becomes less and peace becomes more when our strength is in the Lord.
“Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass.” (Psalm 37:5)
Delwyn Maas is pastor of Gift of God Lutheran Church in Mapleton, North Dakota.