Wait Calmly: The Strength of Faith (Is. 30)

Publié le 9 mai 2020 dans Non classé

I hope that you all are doing okay. Thank you for your prayers and all your affection for my wife.

We are studying Isaiah. The message of Isaiah takes place in a historical and geographical background that is important to keep in mind. Israel is located next to Assyria in the north, which is very frightening because the Assyrian grip is tightening, and in the south their neighbor is Egypt. Assyria in the north scares them as much as Egypt in the south reassures them, seduces them, attracts them. They thought, « Egypt can protect us from Assyria. » But Egypt is a false solution.

This situation between the extreme fear of Assyria in the north and the exaggerated attachment to Egypt in the south sums up the situation of mankind to a certain degree. On the one hand, there are things that scare us that should not scare us, and on the other hand, there are things that we love, that we cherish too much, that we idolize, but we shouldn’t because they will always disappoint us.

The solution is to give God the right place in our lives and to wait for him. That way the Assyriansin our lives would make us much less afraid and the Egyptians could not manipulate us and then disappoint us. But it is not always easy to put this into practice. What should we do when the Lord’s help seems not to come? Instead of rushing to Egypt, Isaiah calls the people to wait on the Lord, to hope in the Lord.

The key word in our text this morning is to wait v18. Hope means to wait for. In Isa 30:15 we read:

“In repentance and rest is your salvation,
    in quietness and trust is your strength,
    but you would have none of it. »
In many situations, God calls us to calm expectation as an expression of our faith. We have had to practice this in our current situation. The real challenge would be in the weeks and months to come. For all of our Christian lives.

In this sermon we will explore these three points:

  1. Waiting is difficult for us
  2. Waiting is our strength
  3. The God who awaits us

Waiting is difficult. We want immediate and quick solutions. We want fast parcel deliveries. The CEO of Amazon says: « No one orders a product and then says, I would like to wait a long time. » We don’t like waiting in a queue at the pharmacy, waiting for the end of confinement, waiting for the economy to re-start.

The Assyrian threat was a visible threat; imminent, urgent. Egypt was the quick, immediate, visible solution. Many said that it was necessary to descend into Egypt: v2 « who set out to go down to Egypt, without asking for my direction, to take refuge in the protection of Pharaoh and to seek shelter in the shadow of Egypt! » One attraction of Egypt: Horses and fast chariots, v16: We will flee upon horses … We will ride upon swift steeds.” In war, the speed with which you can move your troops is often the secret of victory.
In the Bible, the flight to Egypt often returns. Sometimes it’s the right thing to do – like when Jesus’ parents fled to Egypt. And sometimes it wasn’t the right thing to do; running away from problems often leads to other problems. v7 Egypt’s help is worthless and empty; therefore I have called her “Rahab who sits still.” In other words, God is saying « This is why I call it noise that comes to nothing. »

Restless impatience comes to us more easily than patient waiting. For certain things, our tendency would be to flee, while God is calling us to wait. I think of certain trials, difficult, uncomfortable situations, our prayers for help have no immediate answer, so we flee …. Instead of waiting for the Lord’s help, we act hastily. v1 “who make an alliance, but not of my Spirit, that they may add sin to sin.” Think of a hasty marriage, a sudden divorce…

Others read the Bible with this attitude, wanting a quick, easy answer … Some people think that if in my daily Bible reading, there is not a clear verse which speaks to me or tells me what to do, or which tells me what I want to hear, the Bible doesn’t work. See v10 « speak to us smooth things. »

To wait is difficult, but to wait is our strength.
See v15 “In repentance and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.” Isaiah calls for repentance. Come back to Jerusalem, come back to God, stay quiet. It is in calm and confidence that will be your strength. Not in fast chariots and horses. Let us look at a map of the kingdom of Ezechais to illustrate…

Is it true that there is strength in calm and rest and tranquility? The Bible tells us Serve with zeal, it talks about the fight of faith, Christian life is not a great long nap. That said, there is strength in calm and foreknowledge.
For example, a crowd in panic. If you keep your calm and confidence and tranquility when everyone else panics, you are the strong person. In a disagreement, in a conflict, being calm requires more strength than exploding with anger.

This rest, this calm is an expression of our faith in the strength of God and his deliverance. In 31.8 we read « The Assyrian shall fall by a sword, not of man. » On the day of deliverance, an angel destroyed the 185,000 Assyrian soldiers; and after one night, there was no threat. All those who panicked and fled to Egypt found themselves without strength and met the fate they feared because Egypt fell.

With the God of the Bible, when we are in a complicated situation, we can still have this calm and this rest. Just as we sing the words of « It is well with my soul »:

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul

It is well (it is well)
With my soul (with my soul)
It is well, it is well with my soul

What tires us, what makes us weak, is having to carry a burden of guilt, or shame; not to know if we live up to the expectations of others. You can get tired of wondering if you’ve done enough, especially if we think that way about God. But our strength is to rely entirely on what Jesus has done for us.

The God Who Awaits Us
They didn’t want to wait for God. See v18. Desire = wait = hope. You didn’t want to wait for God, but that is why he’s waiting to give you grace. God awaits his people. God waits, that doesn’t mean he looks at his watch every 2 minutes, or stresses out like a parent when their child has not yet returned home. He is like the father who awaited the return of his prodigal son; He waits to push us to repentance and to return. God waits, God prepares the perfect moment to deliver us and bless us.

The rest of this chapter lists all the blessings that God prepares for His people. Many go much further than a military victory against Assyria, the blessings look forward to a messianic kingdom ….

I leave you with a blessing:
See v.21 « And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left. »
This promise is repeated several times in Isaiah. The law of God, his will, will be engraved in the hearts of his people. He speaks to us with his word to show us the way. We Christians, by the work of Christ, we have his word, his Spirit, and prayer, so waiting is much more manageable. And we can always come to or come back to this God who wishes to give us grace.

Children’s message: Hello children! I hope you are well ! I have a question for you: do you like to wait a long time for something? Maybe on your birthday, or when mom or dad comes home; or wait to have a snack? When it’s hard to wait, it’s called impatience. When we are impatient; you can get angry or unpleasant, or make bad decisions. But often God wants to teach us patience to help us trust him. Look at the story of two women in the Bible named Sarah and Hagar. Both of them were able to live in difficult situations where they had to wait, hang on and be patient and they always made the right decisions. But God visited them and spoke to them. God also visited us in Jesus and he helps us to support everything with a good attitude.