The Lord says, “‘One who trusts will not panic.’
And I will make justice the line,
and righteousness the plummet;
hail will sweep away the refuge of lies,
and waters will overwhelm the shelter.”
~Isaiah 28:16e-17 (NRSV).
This is pretty heady stuff. Isn’t it funny how people avoid the more judgment-related pieces of Isaiah in favour of the nicer sounding verses ushering hope, peace and joy? It’s our very human nature to skirt around the tougher aspects of Scripture.
But there’s more than plain judgment here. The entire chapter—one that is titled in the NRSV, Judgment of Corrupt Rulers, Priests, and Prophets—and even the entire corpus of Isaiah, could be titled “Trust and Obey God, the Sure Foundation.”
Trust Relies Upon Everlasting Justice and Righteousness
Those that trust in everlasting goodness and grace are found trusting the portents of justice and righteousness. Indeed, they’ll be living these characteristics of holiness.
Isaiah delivered his prophesy against all manner of those supposedly proffering good who were taking advantage of their positions and leading vulnerable people astray. They trusted in bad faith auguries, injustice and wickedness. If there is a more despicable thing than a leader betraying their position, what can it be?
But trust is faithfulness to the sound measures and lines of a squarely constructed Stone. Faithfulness sees the Stone aright. It trusts the Stone because it’s trustworthy.
“Hail” and “Waters” as Allusions of Judgment
Torrents rush through poorly prepared faith (see Matthew 7:24-27). No matter how sound it looks it’s going to be history as soon as that belting hail and torrential water flow begins.
It’s only a matter of time before it’s found out for what it is.
Faith or leadership that’s built on lies and superstition might also look good; that is until the test comes. Whether it stands the test or not reveals the truth. Psalm 37 makes a huge amount of sense in this light. Envy the wicked? Why? They will soon be gone!
The ‘houses’ of our faith must be founded in the justice and righteousness of the Lord. Walled squarely and true, the Lord is a Refuge we can cling to. The one who trusts well, and in these, will not panic. They will experience constant redemption and peace (Isaiah 26:3).
Whenever we get this faith any more complicated than trust and obedience we’re in danger of idolatry. God is faithful. Our trust and obedience is vindicated.
© 2010 S. J. Wickham.