You will keep in perfect peace
those whose minds are steadfast,
because they trust in you.
Trust in the LORD forever,
for the LORD, the LORD himself, is the Rock eternal.
He humbles those who dwell on high,
he lays the lofty city low;
he levels it to the ground
and casts it down to the dust.
Feet trample it down—
the feet of the oppressed,
the footsteps of the poor.
The path of the righteous is level;
you, the Upright One, make the way of the righteous smooth.
Yes, LORD, walking in the way of your laws,
we wait for you;
your name and renown
are the desire of our hearts.
My soul yearns for you in the night;
in the morning my spirit longs for you.
When your judgments come upon the earth,
the people of the world learn righteousness.
In today’s passage, the prophet gives us helpful information regarding our relationship with God. He tells us that God’s name (synonymous with God himself in ancient Jewish culture) and renown is the desire of the people’s heart. When we develop in our relationship with God to the point where we desire to see him honored and glorified before we are, we truly have developed the kind of relationship with God that is pleasing to him. When that happens, as the prophet reminds us, we can expect to experience real and perfect peace. We can also expect that our minds will be steadfast so that we are not tossed about by the uncertainty and changeability of life like a windblown ship on a stormy sea.
Isaiah goes on to explain why we should want to live our lives in ways that will point people toward God and not us. In this passage, he speaks of God’s justice and his desire to teach all people righteousness. Contrary to the popular belief that being righteous is no fun, the prophet reminds us that righteous living, i.e., the way God created us to live, is the one and only ticket to enjoying a happy and fulfilling life. Righteous living is not so much about following a bunch of rules as it is a state of being and having a proper relationship with God, not one of equals but one of Creator-creature.
Elsewhere, Scripture is full of reasons why we should want to love God. Psalm 103 is a wonderful place to begin reading about why God is lovable and worth our love. And as we saw yesterday, we have the hope of New Creation, which may be the best reason of all to love and adore God, given that it is a free and undeserved gift offered to us.
Once we have this principle firmly in mind that God loves us and created us to have a relationship with him rather than to destroy us, the Bible’s constant warnings about judgment on those who stubbornly refuse to live as God created them to live begin to make more sense. We don’t hear a Resident Cop bent on ruining all our fun. Instead, we hear a loving Father pleading with and warning his rebellious children of the dire consequences of their behavior. Anyone who has raised kids will understand this dynamic intuitively. After all, love desires the best for the beloved and God certainly knows best. Real love is never schmaltzy or excessively indulgent, giving the beloved whatever the beloved desires, because we humans more often than not don’t really know what is good for us and therefore do not always desire what is best. Here, Isaiah lets us know what our end game in our relationship with God should be, i.e., what is best for us in terms of our relationship with God–to yearn for his very Presence and renown.
Is God’s Presence and renown the desire of your heart? How you answer this question will go a long way in helping you see exactly who or what you are worshiping–and make no mistake, we all worship something. The key question is this. Will the object of our worship bring us life or death? May you always choose life.