“Then your light will break out like the dawn, And your recovery will speedily spring forth; And your righteousness will go before you; The glory of the Lord will be your rear guard. Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; You will cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am.’” Isaiah 58:8-9a (NASB)
The people of Israel were complaining that God did not recognize their religious actions. God responds to them that their fasting was half-hearted and done with the wrong motivation. Insincere fasting resulted in contention, fighting, and pretense. Fasting consisted of more than just an outward ritual and a mock penitence, it involved repentance over sin resulting in humility. Turning from sin, and caring for those in need was required for God to acknowledge their obedience in fasts. In contrast with the complaint of v. 3, a time will come when the Lord will be completely responsive to the prayers of His people. This will be done when they are converted and giving evidence of the transformation in the kind of works that reflect a truly repentant heart This verse is an interesting way to describe what happens when we pray. Seek God with the right heart and God will pour out His blessings. God has a way of letting us know that He is listening when we pray. When we are praying in earnest we’ll be aware that God’s is there and listening because He has promised to be there.
“I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber.” – Psalm 121:1-3 (ESV)
The title “Song of Ascents” identifies each of the Psalms 120–134 as a pilgrim song which was sung when the Israelites “ascended” (went up) to Jerusalem for the annual feasts. Festivals and feasts were very important annual events in Jewish life. The pilgrim-psalmist, as he contemplated his own spiritual journey while walking the roads through the hills to Jerusalem. He asked where his help came from. It was a rhetorical question framed in the song for he knew. He had found the answer to this question in the affirmation of his faith that the Lord. It was the Lord God who created heaven and earth, including those hills. God was his only Source of help. God’s people then and today are encouraged to trust the living God because He will bless them all. Verse 3 has our promise for today, and every day. God is watching over us on our journey. We need not look to anyone but Him for the help we need. He will not let our foot to slip; and He never dozes off. God takes no naps or ever go to sleep and he guards us going and coming.
“God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, Though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof.” Psalm 46:1-3 (KJV)
It was just a few days ago that we considered the promises from God’s Word found in the book of Isaiah. The promise was that even if mountains may depart and the hills be removed, God’s love would never fail to be here for us. Today we consider again a comparison of God’s attributes with mountains being moved, this time into the sea. God promises to be our refuge (shelter) from storms and danger. Such threats are around us all the time and we may not even know every time we are in such peril. Think of those who were on that jet that lost most of an engine. Disasters happen and we are not always protected from them happening but God here promises that He is still our refuge and strength. Strong enough even to bring us into His presence or see us safely home. Floods and earthquakes are uncontrollable and nearly unpredictable as are the crises and circumstances that might knock us off our feet. But God is and will be with us protecting us from fear and trouble. Let’s hold tightly to these promises today and next time disaster threatens, no matter what kind it is.