April 02, 2008

Isa 26:3

1 In that day, everyone in the land of Judah will sing this song:

Our city is strong!
We are surrounded by the walls of God's salvation.
2 Open the gates to all who are righteous;
allow the faithful to enter.
3 You will keep in perfect peace
all who trust in you,
all whose thoughts are fixed on you!

4 Trust in the LORD always,
for the LORD GOD is the eternal Rock.
5 He humbles the proud
and brings down the arrogant city.
He brings it down to the dust.
6 The poor and oppressed trample it underfoot,
and the needy walk all over it.

We know that God is a God of compassion, that He does not want us to fail miserably and that He tells us that these direction signs are not too difficult for us in spite of our infirmities. God is for us, intimately interested in our alignment with Him. All that seems great. And it is.

But then we discover the terrible reality of life. “The good that I wish to do, I do not do, but rather I do the very thing that I do not wish to do.” There is a war going on inside of me – and a lot of time the enemy in me seems to win the battle. Paul, the great Hebrew rabbi, knew only too well the agony of this situation. It seems that every one of us struggles with at least one of the Commandments in a deep, personal way. There has to be an answer. There has to be hope.

Isaiah, the great prophet, offers this verse. We desperately want perfect peace (shalom shalom). But if we read this verse from a Greek perspective, we will miss its power. You see, the Hebrew text doesn’t use the word “mind” at all. The way to perfect peace is not a cognitive process. I can’t achieve harmony and tranquility with God by mental effort. The Hebrew word here is yetser. Don’t read it as the Greek nous! It’s not a word about your mental capacity. It’s a word about pottery!

Pottery? Yes, that’s right. This word is the word used to describe that wonderful metaphor of God as the potter and Man as the clay (Isaiah 29). It describes the skill of the Potter Who forms us, and all of creation, according to His desires and purposes. In other words, the form (pot) that God designed, when controlled by the Designer, allows the Designer to bring about perfect peace. When the pot is put to the use that it was designed to perform, then its real meaning is fulfilled. That is the experience of perfect peace.

How does this happen to a lump of clay like you and me? That takes us to the second word, samach. This verb means “to lay upon, to place on a person or thing,” like putting a load of wood on the back of a mule. When the pot rests entirely on God, then God uses it for exactly what it was meant to do – and that results in peace.

This is a little complex, but so important. It is not a thinking process. I don’t think my way into resting on God. I have to make choices, utilize emotions and exercise my body along with my mind in order to rest on Him. The firewood doesn’t get on the back of the mule by simply thinking about it. I have to engage my whole person, so that I deliberately put myself onto the Potter’s wheel. I have to let Him take charge of all of me. And when I do, God promises to use me for exactly what I was made to do. Then I will experience shalom shalom.

This is so simple – and so difficult. The world tells us that we must find our own destiny, discover our own best use. But that is not the Hebrew way. God has a different point of view.

Copyright 2003-2008 © Skip Moen and AtGodsTable.com. All Rights Reserved.

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