We live in a world where man is taught that strength comes from either the force that symbolizes the animal world or the multiple manipulations that characterize the materialistic world. The Bible however offers a contrasting view of strength as the ultimate truth.
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, —– (Isaiah 30)
First things first- it is pointless to talk about strength, if salvation is not a reality. It is like planning to buy furniture in the house when you don’t have a house. How does it benefit a man to be strong when all is lost at death? If he is not right with God, all notions of strength are mere illusions!
Salvation starts with repentance- an act of acknowledging that one has fallen short of God’s holy requirements for man. It is an act reflecting recognition of the fact that reality is defined by God’s light and his nature. Getting right with God is at the heart of aligning oneself with reality. That is what repentance is all about. And only when man seriously attempts to repent, does he begin to see how insurmountable his guilt and inadequacy truly is. Apart from accepting the sacrifice of Christ, he would find no other way to make himself right with God. Several people dismiss the need for Christ and the exclusiveness of salvation that is taught in the Bible. Most of them have never seriously considered repentance and do not realize how difficult repentance truly is. It is like looking at pictures of a mountain peak and hearing stories of others who have climbed it, thereby coming to a conclusion that you can do it as well—-till you actually get to the bottom of the mountain and then see how challenging the peak truly is!
Rest signifies a relationship with God that follows repentance based on Christ. This relationship is made true by the indwelling Holy Spirit and signifies a dynamic wherein man is not constantly refusing the Spirit, but walking in step with Him. There is no human effort to gain salvation, there is no lingering guilt, there is no doubting one’s salvation and what is demonstrated is the most beautiful partnership on earth- one of man depending on God, being led by Him and truly resting in Him. Salvation is never in doubt for such a person and then it makes sense to talk of strength.
Quietness or calmness or stillness is an inner state of mind that draws strength from a spirit made strong in the Lord. It is not a state of constant worry, fear, doubt or uncertainty, rather one of peace and stillness. The contrasting examples of Saul and David highlight this truth. While Saul, though being king of Israel, was constantly feeling threatened by David and wasted a significant portion of his time and effort in his latter years trying to capture David, David himself though on the run was a picture of confidence and quietness. And so through those fugitive years, his quietness enabled him to come out unscathed and strong.
Trust is closely related to quietness and one is not possible without the other. Trust, derived from faith in God, enables one to hand over situations and challenges to the Lord and know for sure that He will work the very best out through it all. In David’s own words,
7 Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God. 8 They are brought to their knees and fall, but we rise up and stand firm. (Psalms 20)
It is far easier to trust in chariots and horses- all that signifies influence, power and force in this world, but to trust in the unseen Lord is difficult. Yet, the one who chooses to trust in the Lord is assured of long-term stability because chariots and horses will have their moment but not for long.
Isaiah’s prescription is followed by a description of willful disobedience and rejection of the same. Calamity follows. Trust is replaced by fear and what was feared becomes reality. Yet he ends on an optimistic note- one of the gracious Lord offering a second chance to his people.
——–but you would have none of it. 16 You said, ‘No, we will flee on horses.’ Therefore you will flee! You said, ‘We will ride off on swift horses.’ Therefore your pursuers will be swift! 17 A thousand will flee at the threat of one; at the threat of five you will all flee away, till you are left like a flagstaff on a mountaintop, like a banner on a hill.” 18 Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion. — (Isaiah 30)
True strength is available, will there be any takers?
- JOSEPH AND THE VIRGIN BIRTH
- THIEF IN THE NIGHT