If we really, really think we know better, God can be provoked to step back and let us have our way for a while. You want freedom? You think you know better? Okay… have at ‘er. Isaiah helps us see today that this is a dangerous place for the child of God to be.
And so God let his children go their way
8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”
And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”
9 He said, “Go and tell this people:
“‘Be ever hearing, but never understanding;
be ever seeing, but never perceiving.’
10 Make the heart of this people calloused;
make their ears dull
and close their eyes.
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
hear with their ears,
understand with their hearts,
and turn and be healed.”
11 Then I said, “For how long, Lord?”
And he answered:
“Until the cities lie ruined
and without inhabitant,
until the houses are left deserted
and the fields ruined and ravaged,
12 until the Lord has sent everyone far away
and the land is utterly forsaken.
13 And though a tenth remains in the land,
it will again be laid waste.
But as the terebinth and oak
leave stumps when they are cut down,
so the holy seed will be the stump in the land.”
God’s first message to his children through Isaiah was that they would stop understanding God, stop perceiving him, and for them to not turn toward God and be healed. Isn’t that counter-intuitive? Doesn’t God want us all to repent of our sin and turn toward him?
Yes, generally speaking he does. Specifically, though, when his children ignore him and go their own ways long enough, God can be provoked to step back and let us have our way for a while. That’s what he was doing with Israel. You want freedom? You think you know better? Okay… have at ‘er.
And so God let his children go their way and not be interrupted or frustrated by God’s ‘interference.’ I sincerely hope this never happens to you or to me. I can’t imagine a worse fate than God removing his presence and goodness from our lives.
Isaiah asked, “For how long, Lord?”
His question was not only a question of time, but also of impact. We see that the result of God’s withdrawal from the lives of his children, in which he let them entirely go their own ways, is documented in verses 11-13.
When we go our own ways, the eventual outcome is ruin: we will find ourselves isolated and our land forsaken, meaning that our prosperity and success will diminish. This may take some time and may look different for different people, yet God’s point is that the life without him will eventually leave us at a rock bottom in which we want to turn back to God.
Why wait until then? Why not serve God with wholehearted devotion where he can lead us into his best for us?