The steadfast of mind You will keep in perfect peace, because he trusts in You. (Isaiah 26:3)
This verse stands out like a fragrant flower amidst the devastation Isaiah is projecting for this earth. How sobering that God is the author of this devastation! Isaiah had seen the glory of the coming of the Lord and God was indeed trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath were stored.
Behold, the Lord lays the earth waste, devastates it, distorts its surface and scatters its inhabitants. (Isaiah 24:1)
But what does this forthcoming holocaust have to do with us who live within the fortified walls of the United States of America – the most powerful and prosperous nation in history? Our steadfastness of mind will be well served to note it was Israel’s idolatry that had aroused God’s wrath. If we define idolatry as devotion to and trust in things other than God, how would America compare to Israel? Is it in God we trust today? Do we look to God as our nation’s ultimate Commander-in-Chief? Are we grateful to him for the security and abundance we have known? Those with any remaining conscience know the profoundly sad answer to this question.
Trust in the Lord forever, for in God the Lord, we have an everlasting Rock. For He has brought low those who dwell on high, the unassailable city; He lays it low, He lays it low to the ground, He casts it to the dust. (Isaiah 26:4)
We have already acknowledged this week that we each have a song we must attend to. As we compose our song, we must keep in mind a day is coming when God will step in and bring closure to the affairs of this earth. While this process will be anything but peaceful, God’s promises of perfect peace remains to those steadfast in heart and mind. Since we know neither the day nor the hour of this event we must be vigilent to recognize his Truth is marching on whether we or our nation are marching along with it…
He has sounded forth the trumpet that shall never call retreat / He is sifting out the hearts of men before His judgment-seat / Oh, be swift, my soul, to answer Him! be jubilant, my feet! / Our God is marching on. (from The Battle Hymn of the Republic lyrics by Julia Ward Howe)
We should be swift in not looking at the DOW as evidence God is marching on. We should be swift in not looking at our armed forces as our sole defense. If we are trusting in our economy or our military are we not idolaters who must also be sifted? As with Israel, will God have to demonstrate the frailty of our gods?
Is steadfastness of mind a gift given or is it character acquired by hearing and heeding God’s Word and Spirit? Weren’t we told that it was our responsibility to renew our minds? We must compose our minds by humbly acknowledging every idol to whom we have bowed. We must live our lives with our hearts on the alter, daily volunteering to be sifted so that it does not happen involuntarily on that Great Day of ultimate sifting. Only God can expose our deluded and entrapped hearts. But there is good news; in this place of abandonment, God can awaken our hearts…
Indeed, while following the way of Your judgments, O Lord, we have waited for You eagerly; Your name, even Your memory, is the desire of our souls. At night my soul longs for You, indeed, my spirit within me seeks You diligently; for when the earth experiences Your judgments the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness. (Isaiah 26:9)
It is not wise to be friends with a world that is accumulating God’s wrath. If God must shake our individual or corporate lives we must be swift to recognize his kindness, for by it, he may bring us to repentance. The Lord knows it is better to be shaken now than later. The martyred missionary Jim Elliott may have said it best….
He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot loose.
In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 1:6-7)
Father, teach us to abide in you and to swiftly recognize all the sovereign ways you work, including the work you accomplish through trials and suffering which may liberate us from our entanglements with this world. In the abundance of your Spirit expose the poverty of our materialism. May we be steadfast of heart and mind. Establish our trust in you. May our dutiful feet be quick to bring you honor and glory now and forever more. Amen.