“That the nations might tremble”
First we read 1 Samuel 20, an account of Saul’s increasing jealousy of David – and his developing desire to kill him: such is human nature and its self-centredness. We constantly see this around us – it is more evident than ever at election times! Then we came to Isaiah 64 where the prophet is inspired to make a prayer and petition to God to reveal himself – and shock the nations – it is a prayer appropriate for today.
“Oh that you would rend the heavens and come down, that the mountains might quake at your presence” (verse 1)
with the result
“that the nations might tremble at your presence!” (verse 2).
And how long now before this actually happens? Not long!
Verse 4 is very challenging for us – and verse 5 is inspiring – let us take them into our hearts today.
“No one has heard or perceived by the ear, no eye has seen a God besides you, who acts for those who wait for him. You meet him who joyfully works righteousness, those who remember you in your ways.”
The word “remember” (zakar) appears to have the meaning here of ‘being mindful’ – remembering with intensity of thought. May we “joyfully” do that which is “righteous”, setting an example to others; for we witness by our actions as much as by our words! Indeed, actions can undermine and destroy our words – as with the scribes and Pharisees.
Our final thought is parallel with this point and comes from Matthew 9 and the encounter of Jesus with the Pharisees who had asked his disciples,
“Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” (verse 11).
They were too self-righteous to do this! They were busy offering sacrifices in the Temple! How pointed is the comment of Jesus,
“Go and learn what this means,
‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’
For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners” (verse 13).
That is still the case today, but nearly all in our world are so committed to godlessness that it is no longer listening (or reading!). The clamour of those enjoying ungodly pursuits and promoting them to others is heard and seen on every hand – let us make sure it is not deafening and blinding us! It cannot be long now before God causes “the nations” to “tremble”! Are we praying for this time – for what the world deserves?
The Psalmist did – note the words in Psalm 83!
“O my God, make them like whirling dust, like chaff before the wind … pursue them with your tempest and terrify them … Fill their faces with shame, that they may seek your name, O LORD” (verses 13,15,16).
May we all be so strong in faith that we will not “tremble” when “the nations” do – but rejoice because our faith is in the process of being turned to sight (see 2 Corinthians 4:18).
18 while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.
(2 Corinthians 4:18 ASV)