Return and Rest

Hovering over Isaiah 30. While there’s much about Isaiah that disorients me as I try to map his prophecies to a historical timeline, there are gems encountered frequently along the way. Truths about the Holy One of Israel, promises concerning His holy purposes for the people of Israel. And in the midst, principles for those of us called also to be “God’s people” (1Pet. 2:10), having been grafted into this ancient root (Rom. 11:17) through the finished work of Christ. This morning I’m chewing on one of those principles, a principle of salvation.

Judgment for sin had begun. The generational warnings of the prophets were becoming realities. The people of God, who for years had drawn near to God “with their mouth” and honored Him only “with their lips,” but whose hearts were in reality “far from Me” (Isa. 29:13), were now experiencing the response of God. Their Enemies had begun to lay their siege works. Unless something drastic happened, the outcome seemed inevitable.

And so they made plans. Plans to “go down to Egypt”, enter into an unholy alliance, and “seek shelter in the shadow” of Pharaoh’s military might (Isa. 30:1-2). Those who had once been delivered from Egypt by the mighty hand of God were now turning to Egypt to be rescued themselves from the mighty hand of God. Instead of such foolish plans, instead of adding “sin to sin”, God calls His people to another approach for securing their salvation.

For thus said the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel, “In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.”

(Isaiah 30:15 ESV)

Return and rest. That’s the plan for responding to God’s just discipline. Repent and cease from your own wisdom and ways. That’s the way for restoring the equilibrium known by His finished work. Turn from trusting in your own strength, or the strength of Egypt, and instead quiet yourselves as you trust in the One who had called you to be His special people in the first place. Return and rest. That’s the principle of salvation pre-occupying my thoughts this morning.

We’re not unlike ancient Israel. Just as their hearts had drifted far from the God they worshiped with their lips, we too are prone to wander. Just as they looked to Egypt as the solution for their wayward strife, we too can so easily look to the world and its ways to be our needed shelter when we are under sin’s siege. Instead, beckons our God who “waits to be gracious” (Isa. 30:18), return and rest.

Repent and be still. Confess and be contrite. Turn again and trust. Make a beeline for the cross and believe again that My love is unfailing, My grace is abounding, and the blood of My Son is sufficient to cleanse from all sin.

We were once saved through repentance and resting in the finished work of Jesus. It also is how we are “being saved.”

As long as we wake every morning to the flesh battling the Spirit and the Spirit battling the flesh (Gal. 5:17), we are going to know times when the flesh gets the upper hand. Return and rest.

As long as our hearts are works in progress, they will, as Calvin puts it, be prone towards being “a perpetual idol factory”, churning out affections towards things that should be directed only towards God. When we see that happening, return and rest.

If repentance isn’t a normative part of our working out our own salvation with fear and trembling (Php. 2:12), it should be. It’s not because we have nothing to repent of, but more likely that we have devised other plans for dealing with sin’s on-going desire to lay siege to our lives.

Return and rest.

By God’s grace. For God’s glory.

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