“For thus said the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel, ‘In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.’” (Isaiah 30:15a)
Throughout the entire Bible, the people of Israel have a common problem. In nearly every generation, people are rebelling against God. Sometimes it’s just a few people; other times, it’s the entire nation. The Old Testament contains record after record of Israel rebelling and repenting, rebelling and repenting, rebelling and repenting. The book of Isaiah alone features numerous warnings of punishment if Israel continued in their sinful behavior. Isaiah certainly had his hands full, trying to preach the truth to this stubborn people. In his day, there were many different things keeping the Israelites from following God, but one major issue was that of relying on things other than God to save them from their troubles.
On God’s behalf, Isaiah once spoke these words: “‘Ah, stubborn children,’ declares the LORD, ‘who carry out a plan, but not Mine, and who make an alliance, but not of My Spirit, that they may add sin to sin; who set out to go down to Egypt, without asking for My direction, to take refuge in the protection of Pharaoh and to seek shelter in the shadow of Egypt!’” (Isaiah 30:1-2) At that time, the Israelites, for some reason or other, were eager to go to Egypt and seek safety there. They probably felt threatened by an enemy, and Egypt seemed to them to be the safest place. But they completely left God out of their plans. They never asked Him if Egypt was a good idea; most likely, they never even asked for His help with their enemies. Instead, they immediately turned to a foreign country, seeking salvation from fellow humans rather than an almighty God.
This is still a widespread problem today. It’s easy for all of us to become frightened by things that seem much bigger than us, and then to trust in things that we can see to deliver us from that terror. We know that God says He will protect us; but that scary thing is getting closer and closer, and those guys over there look really strong and able to handle whatever happens. So where do we put our trust?
Often, our initial reaction to trouble is to put our faith in things that have the appearance of strength, in people or circumstances that are guaranteed to be secure. But God has a different idea of how to handle difficult things. “In returning and rest you shall be saved,” He tells us, and “in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.” When Isaiah delivered this message to the Israelites, he was urging them to repent and return to following God and His ways. The might of the Egyptians wouldn’t really save them; it was only by trusting in God that they would be secure. The same thing still holds true today. Wealth, armies, fame; all these things have the appearance of protection, but in truth it is only God Who can deliver us. It is only by believing in Him, turning from our sins, and trusting in Him that we can be saved. He alone is truly strong.