I’ve been working on a big project this summer and, in the process of writing, I ran across a passage that was new to me. It amazes me how the word of God can be “new every morning.” The passage is from the book of Isaiah, chapter 33. Isaiah’s words are directed to foreign powers who were successfully invading Israel and bringing God’s people harm.
It’s increasingly common, even popular, for God’s people to feel as if their beliefs are under attack these days. It occurred to me as I studied Isaiah’s words that the discomfort some of us might be feeling today doesn’t really compare to what a lot of Christians endure in the world. I’ve never feared for my life because of what I believe. On the other hand, the instability raises questions for the future.
Are times changing? If so, will they change again toward God’s direction at some point?
The stability of our times
Isaiah’s words were directed to the chaos God’s people were experiencing, knowing there were those outside their faith who wanted to do them harm. The prophet reminded the people, “The Lᴏʀᴅ is exalted, for he dwells on high; he will fill Zion with justice and righteousness, and he will be the stability of your times, abundance of salvation, wisdom, and knowledge; the fear of the Lᴏʀᴅ is Zion’s treasure” (Isaiah 33:5–6).
Sometimes I watch the evening news and just shake my head. “Stability” doesn’t seem to describe much of what I see and hear. Granted, news has become an entertainment industry as opposed to an informative industry. Angst sells, so we will see a lot of that offered.
The key to the stability Isaiah was speaking of is found in the first few words of the passage. Whom do we exalt? Isaiah reminded his people, “The Lord is exalted, for he dwells on high.”
The word exalt means “to lift up, to elevate.” We exalt what we praise, who and what we consider higher than ourselves. Sometimes we exalt those whom we consider smarter than ourselves. Isaiah would remind us that it is the Lord we should exalt because only God has a perspective from “on high.”
It won’t be politicians who fill our nation with justice and righteousness unless those politicians have been filled with God’s Spirit. God needs to be the stability of our times. It will be very important that we don’t “exalt” people instead.
What does stability look like?
I hear the word stability used most often these days to describe financial security. Certainly, inflation is a much-discussed problem today, but financial security isn’t the stability Isaiah was describing. The prophet described the stability God would bring this way:
- There would be an abundance of salvation.
- There would be wisdom and knowledge.
- And the “fear of the Lord” would be Zion’s treasure.
If Isaiah were giving advice to God’s people today, he might instruct us to measure our success by our stability. History would support Isaiah’s message as well. Our country, a democracy, was stronger as a nation when the majority of our citizens shared Isaiah’s values.
The road of stability
Isaiah would encourage our churches today to focus on the message of salvation and the mission of evangelism. William Temple was an Anglican priest a century ago. He said, “The Church is the only society that exists for the benefit of those who are not its members.” Would the pastors and priests of churches today be able to say that about their congregations?
Stability requires knowledge and wisdom. Isaiah was speaking about the knowledge of God and the wisdom faith in God provides. How can people follow God’s word if they are not taught God’s word?
One of my life verses is from Hosea, and I’ve often said his words are the reason I teach Bible studies. God told the prophet Hosea, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:6). The people who walk with knowledge of God and seek his wisdom are those who make Bible study a high priority.
Stability provides the joy and security all of us should seek to have. We aren’t secure because the bank statement says we are. We aren’t secure because of the alarm systems in our homes and cars. We are secure because our treasure is the presence of God in our lives. We are rich when God is enthroned as our King, highly exalted in our thoughts and values.
Stability is a powerful witness
It’s easy to get caught up in the rhetoric of our day. Debates are interesting, and we like to listen to whichever news makes us feel like we are on the right side of a topic. Isaiah would remind us that the right side is only defined by God as the righteous side. God wants us to stand with him and for him, and that will never be measured politically.
If someone were to ask me who I would vote for, I hope I would say, “Whoever will bring about stability.” Then, I hope they will give me a chance to define that term like Isaiah defined it for us.
God “will be the stability of our times.” That has always been the truth, and it always will be. The Holy Spirit is the presence and power of God in your lives. Those who “walk in the Spirit” will bring God into every room they enter.
Does the room sense the stability of God when you enter? Is there an “abundance of salvation” in your witness? Do you speak with a knowledge of God’s word, and are your words filled with his wisdom? Do you revere God and treasure his preeminence in your life? Are your home and your heart filled with the stability of God?
God told Hosea, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.” The apostle Paul told the church, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16). Jesus told his disciples, “Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).
Why is there instability in our world and in our nation? Are God’s people exalting God or something else? Someone else?
Let’s define treasure as Isaiah taught. Let’s value what will bring about the stability we most want for ourselves and our nation.
We need God’s blessings and God’s stability. We need God to work through his people to accomplish his will. Isaiah said, “Here I am! Send me” (Isaiah 6:8). Will you echo those words in your own heart and life?
Christians shouldn’t be looking for answers. We should know instead that we are God’s answer and live accordingly.