Today I'm reminded of the prophet Isaiah and the "encouraging" direction he received in his day.
God appeared to the old prophet and gave him his very specific marching orders. Isaiah was to go to his peers and "tell them." Tell them what?
Isaiah chapter 6 gives the full account, but here's the Readers Digest Condensed Version:
Isaiah was to tell his people that some very bad things were going to happen, that God was going to humble them, BUT at the appropriate time GOD HIMSELF would actually come to them, dwell with them, free the captives, judge with righteousness, a whole lot more AND eventually the whole earth would be filled with the knowledge of God.
Well! Quite a task! With the Promise Keeping God of the Universe covering his back, Isaiah was comfortable responding with a hearty..."OK!"
THEN, he asked, "For how long God? How long should I deliver this message of DOOM and HOPE?"
And here's the rub.
6:11 "Until the cities lie ruined and without inhabitants, until houses are left deserted and the fields ruined and ravaged, until the Lord has sent everyone far away and the land is utterly forsaken....on and on." (At this point I strongly URGE readers to read the book of Isaiah, all the way through at one sitting.)
In other words, Isaiah, don't expect SUCCESS! Very few will listen, but NEVER MIND THAT, you just keep sayin' it. (Folks will be eating, drinking, marrying, celebrating....just as in the days of Noah.)
Talk about a plan! There would be no "stats and graphs" proving success for Isaiah. BUT, God Himself would be a SANCTUARY for the old prophet even as his world crumbled around him.
(Notice HE didn't say HE would build a sanctuary for him but BE his SANCTUARY.)
I don't for a second compare myself with this prophet, SO.....What's the point here? What's the comfort? What can I learn about people? What can I learn about God?
1. God measures success by OBEDIENCE TO HIM. (Obedience? Not a popular word in today's culture, where "every man does what is right in his OWN eyes.")
2. AND God keeps HIS promises.
Isaiah 9:6 For unto us a Child is born, unto to us a Son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
(I'm hearing the music that goes with this verse. Think "flash mob" at the malls last Christmas.)
One day the WHOLE EARTH WILL be filled with the knowledge of God. That one we're still waiting for!
When, I ask? Silence.
It simply can't come soon enough for me! Until then, I'm trusting in MY SANCTUARY.
What WILL our world look like when it is FILLED WITH THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD?
(Note: Isaiah was married, had two sons, and Jewish tradition tells us he died by being sawed in half.)