Subjection, Hope, Trust

Isaiah 24 graphically describes a state of things such as is being brought about by this ruthless “total war.” And those who know God and are through grace His children, are more and more convinced that He has allowed it because He has lessons to teach us that we have failed to learn in happier days and circumstances. He is placing us on a new form in His school, and it is right and fitting that we should ask, what are these lessons that He would teach us? I suggest that the first of them is given in a few words in verse 15, “Wherefore glorify ye the Lord in the fires.”

What does this mean for us? It surely means, hear His voice, bow to His chastening; own the wisdom of His ways; let His Name be hallowed. Say “Blessed be the Name of the Lord,” and “Though He slay me, I will trust Him.” Let us lift up our souls above all murmuring and questioning and doubt. Let there be with us all subjection to His holy will; even though the furnace of affliction be heated seven times let us not faint, for the trial of our faith is precious. Yes, the first lesson seems to be SUBJECTION to the holy will of God.

Having considered that chapter and learnt the lesson of subjection to the will of God in the midst of these trials, let us go on to chapter 23, for in it there shines the light of a sure and wonderful word. “He will swallow up death in victory: and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces … for the Lord has spoken it” (v. 8). Here is the second lesson. It is the lesson of HOPE. The Christian’s career does not end in disappointment and gloom, but in triumph and glory. “Our light affliction which is but for a moment, works for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.” What a prospect! What a hope! Our great and glorious God will celebrate His triumph over death, and we shall have our part in that triumph. Death—dark king of terrors—will be swallowed up, will utterly disappear in God’s victory. In that the power of God, His greatness and glory will be demonstrated, but what of His tenderness of heart? Could any words more beautifully describe this? “The Lord God will wipe away all tears from all faces.” It is a wonderful word, a consoling word, for what our God will be then He is now, and in lowly subjection to His will we may learn the tenderness of His heart. Like a mother when she gathers her weeping child to her bosom and gently wipes his tears away, so is our God, and though our brightest earthly hopes have crashed about us, and “the earth is empty and waste,” we have this “God of all comfort” as our God and the sure and certain hope of the fulfilment of this great word.

We pass on to chapter 26, and there our third lesson lies plainly before us. “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee: because he trusts in Thee. Trust ye in the Lord for ever: for in the LORD JEHOVAH is everlasting strength” (vv. 3-4). Here the lesson is TRUST: a needed lesson if we are to be kept quiet and confident in the turbulent waters of sorrow and loss. We must trust, in the absolute goodness and wisdom and love of God. We have no hope but in Him, and we need no other. We must put our whole confidence in Him and rest in His strong hand and tender heart. We must trust Him even when we cannot understand His way, and go on trusting—walking by faith and not by sight—this is the way of peace—perfect peace, of “peace, peace” as the margin reads. We put these three worth together, they give us a completed course in the school of God—SUBJECTION, HOPE and TRUST.

But there is more, the day is most surely coming when we shall take up the words of chapter 25:4. “Thou hast been a strength to the poor, and strength to the needy in his distress, a refuge from the storm, a shadow from the heat, when the blast of the terrible one is as a storm against the wall.” We may say that continually, it is surely our daily experience, but what will it be when the storms of life are over and past, and we review all the way that God has led us, and how He has sustained us and brought us through when our way seemed utterly closed. Then we shall without a falter in our praise sing forth, “O Lord, Thou art my God: I will exalt Thee. I will praise Thy Name; for Thou hast done wonderful things: Thy counsels of old are faithfulness and truth.” But we can sing it now, for we know that all things work together for good, to them that love God and are the called according to His purpose.

J. T. Mawson