Tuesday, July 17, 2012


You will keep the mind [that is] dependent [on You] in perfect peace, for it is trusting in You.  Trust in the Lord forever, because in Yah, the Lord, is an everlasting rock!” (Isaiah 26:3-4 HCSB)

I read a story concerning a contest where artists had been challenged to create a painting portraying the concept of peace.  A large cash prize would be given to the winner.  The painting which the judges selected, at first, seemed a total contradiction to the intended subject.  It was a canvas covered with dark colors—a painting of ominous clouds, torrential rain illumined by a streak of lightning, barren cliffs battered by wind-whipped waves—how could this picture peace?  A closer look, brought the eyes to rest on a white dove, perched inside the cleft of the rock, secure in the nest.  It was serene, safe—a tempest raging, yet the small bird was at rest.  That is real peace.

It is real because this is the way life is.  While we thank God for sunny summer days, and picnics in the park, we also understand that storms spring up suddenly, even violently, and we must grab up the food and blanket from the green grass where it was spread, hastening to shelter.  Life is that way.

You can feel fine today, and tomorrow’s annual physical can reveal the presence of a life-threatening disease.  You may walk into work this morning to collect a good paycheck and walk out this afternoon with a dreaded pink slip.  You can pack the car for a fun-filled vacation and only a few miles down the road find yourself sweltering in heat on the side of the road, as the car has broken down.  That’s life.

It is not life as God meant for it to be.  All He made, He pronounced to be,“Good.”  He created man and woman and proclaimed joyfully, “Very good!”  Then sin came, and with it the curse—all the ruinous results of our rebellion against God.  Creation is now in bondage and groans under the sentence of decay and death.  The peace of Paradise was plucked like a flower’s fragrant bloom by the hand of a mean little boy, thrown to the ground and stomped under foot.

But, God had a plan to restore peace.  Eden would bloom again.  He was surprised by none of this, of course.  The omniscient God had designed a way back to the peace of Paradise by the redemptive work of the Prince of Peace.  Storms still come.  But, Jesus gives us peace in the midst of them.  The fiercest tempest of tribulation is to break on this world, yet we need not fear.  Like the dove in the cleft of the rock, we can be serene in the storm.

Isaiah has painted a dark picture—the Day of the Lord will bring His wrath on the wicked.  In chapter twenty three of today’s study, we read of God’s intent to pour out His fury on the city of Tyre and ancient Phoenicia.  Yet, in those foreboding words, a ray of hope shines out—a promise of restoration after a period of judgment.

That illustrates a global judgment impending and the ultimate victory of God over sin as described in chapters twenty four through twenty six of today’s reading.  We dare not minimize the scope of the storm.  It will be worse than anything this world has known—a different and yet greater cataclysm than even the flood that swept the sinful away in Noah’s day—and that was quite a storm!  Consider what is coming, and I am convinced coming soon:

Look, the Lord is stripping the earth bare and making it desolate.  He will twist its surface and scatter its inhabitants: people and priest alike, servant and master,
female servant and mistress, buyer and seller, lender and borrower, creditor and debtor.

The earth will be stripped completely bare and will be totally plundered, for the Lord has spoken this message.

The earth mourns and withers; the world wastes away and withers; the exalted people of the earth waste away.  The earth is polluted by its inhabitants, for they have transgressed teachings, overstepped decrees, and broken the everlasting covenant.  Therefore a curse has consumed the earth, and its inhabitants have become guilty; the earth's inhabitants have been burned, and only a few survive.” (Isaiah 24:1-6 HCSB)

What a horrible storm!  But, God promises the rainbow after the rain.  On the other side of gloom there is glory!  Contemplate this:

Yahweh, You are my God; I will exalt You. I will praise Your name, for You have accomplished wonders, plans [formed] long ago, with perfect faithfulness.  For You have turned the city into a pile of rocks, a fortified city, into ruins; the fortress of barbarians is no longer a city; it will never be rebuilt.  Therefore, a strong people will honor You.  The cities of violent nations will fear You.  For You have been a stronghold for the poor, a stronghold for the needy person in his distress, a refuge from the rain, a shade from the heat.  When the breath of the violent is like rain [against] a wall, like heat in a dry land, You subdue the uproar of barbarians. As the shade of a cloud [cools] the heat of the day, [so] He silences the song of the violent.

The Lord of Hosts will prepare a feast for all the peoples on this mountain—a feast of aged wine, choice meat, finely aged wine.  On this mountain [He] will destroy the [burial] shroud, the shroud over all the peoples, the sheet covering all the nations; He will destroy death forever.  The Lord God will wipe away the tears
from every face and remove His people's disgrace from the whole earth, for the Lord has spoken.

On that day it will be said,Look, this is our God; we have waited for Him, and He has saved us.  This is the Lord; we have waited for Him. Let us rejoice and be glad in His salvation.’” (Isaiah 25:1-9 HCSB)

Our peace rests in the promise of God.  The storm is certainly coming.  We feel the strong winds.  We see sheets of rain coming across the mountains.  The thunder echoes violently through the valleys, as lightning leaps from the dark clouds to the strike the ground.  The last storm, it would seem, is about to break.

But, we need not be seized by fear.  We do not have to succumb to dread.  There is serenity in the storm!  The Great Physician writes out His prescription for peace:

You will keep the mind [that is] dependent [on You] in perfect peace, for it is trusting in You. Trust in the Lord forever, because in Yah, the Lord, is an everlasting rock!”  (Isaiah 26:3-4 HCSB)

There is PROTECTION in God’s supernatural peace: “You will keep the mind…” (v.3a). He puts His dear dove that He loves in the cleft of the Rock.  Our minds do not have to be given to fear, they can be guarded by faith.

There is POSITION in God’s supernatural peace: “that is dependent [on You],” (v.3b).  People who position himself or herself as humble servants, know God’s will is not something to dread, but delight in.  We do not seek to fly through the storm, but flee for refuge in the storm—resting in Him.

There is PROVISION in God’s supernatural peace: “in perfect peace,” (v.3c).  This is not some “positive thinking” we conjure up that denies the reality of the storm.  No, it is the gift of a gracious God—not natural, but supernatural.  It is something the world can’t give, but, therefore, the world cannot take away.  Jesus pledged, “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Your heart must not be troubled or fearful.” (John 14:27 HCSB)

There is PERSUASION in God’s supernatural peace: “for it is trusting in You. Trust in the Lord forever, because in Yah, the Lord, is an everlasting rock!” (v.3d-4)  Fully persuaded, persistently resting in God’s assurances.  We are in the hollow of that Rock—an everlasting shelter that winds cannot move and waves cannot wear away.

Standing on the promises that cannot fail,
When the howling storms of doubt and fear assail,
By the living Word of God I shall prevail,
Standing on the promises of God.” (Russell Carter)

There is serenity in the storm!

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