The Voice Behind You
Isaiah 30:21 Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, "This is the way; walk in it."
What is this voice behind us telling us the way and encouraging us to walk in that way? It is the Holy Spirit of the Almighty Creator of all Things. God, speaks to us through His Spirit that took up residence in our hearts when we accepted Jesus as Lord, when we came to believe that God loves us.
‘This is the way; walk in it!’ Are we listening? Are we walking where He leads you?
Let’s look at this passage from the 30th chapter of Isaiah. Pick up in the 15th verse.
15 This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says:
"In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it.
16 You said, 'No, we will flee on horses.' Therefore you will flee! You said, 'We will ride off on swift horses.' Therefore your pursuers will be swift! 17 A thousand will flee at the threat of one; at the threat of five you will all flee away, till you are left like a flagstaff on a mountaintop, like a banner on a hill."
18 Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!
19 O people of Zion, who live in Jerusalem, you will weep no more. How gracious he will be when you cry for help! As soon as he hears, he will answer you. 20 Although the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, your teachers will be hidden no more; with your own eyes you will see them. 21 Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, "This is the way; walk in it." 22 Then you will defile your idols overlaid with silver and your images covered with gold; you will throw them away like a menstrual cloth and say to them, "Away with you!" (NIV)
A little history lesson: Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Jacob, renamed Israel. Israel’s children taken to Egypt to save them from the famine. After a few hundred years there they became slaves. God sent Moses to lead them out of Egypt and back to the land promised to Abraham. Joshua led them to take the land from the Canaanites. They set themselves up in their tribes. Judges ruled them until Samuel crowned Saul as the first King of Israel. David was the second king. Solomon followed David.
The kingdom split after the death of Solomon into the northern kingdom, usually referred to as Israel, and the southern kingdom usually referred to as Judah.
The Assyrians came and conquered the northern kingdom and repopulated that area with people from others parts of the Assyrian empire. Eventually these came to be knows as the Samaritans.
Before the Southern kingdom could be taken by Assyria, that empire fell. Babylon was on the rise. This is the time of Isaiah’s messages to the southern kingdom of Judah.
The leaders of Judah, according to Isaiah knew that their defeat was at hand and ran away. This was what Isaiah was speaking of when he said in verses 16 and 17 about them fleeing. They were captured and eventually Babylon took all their nobles to their capital.
When they returned, that is, believers like Ezra and Nehemiah, they had finally given up idolatry. From then on idolatry was not a problem for Israel. They had other problems, but those are for another day.
I want to focus on three verses in this passage. The first is verse 15.
15 This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: "In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it.” (NIV)
This is the basic problem of mankind. Our salvation is based on our acceptance of God as our Savior and Lord. Our Creator wants us to love Him and follow Him, to have a relationship with Him. That relationship is at its heart a relationship of surrender to the Lord. Accepting that He loves us and accepting that He has the right to be our Lord, to lead us each and every day.
Repentance is when we turn from living for our own purposes and begin living in a relationship with God, accepting His purpose as our own.
This is a rest. We can relax. In repentance and rest is our salvation. We do not have to have everything figured out. God will lead us if we turn to Him and trust Him to love us and to lead us. Our salvation is in repentance and rest.
Next look at verse 18:
18 Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him! (NIV)
Mankind, apart from God, flees from God and from His love and lordship. But God longs to be gracious to us. He desires to show compassion to us. We focus on the judgement and He will judge us, but God will be compassionate to us and offer us grace if we will simply surrender to Him and admit we have been running away from Him and begin to love and serve Him. Repentance becomes our lifestyle.
Salvation is a free gift. We cannot be good enough on our own to earn it. This is what God’s grace and compassion offers us. He, through becoming a man, Jesus, the Christ, paid our debt. Justice was served for us through the death of Jesus, we only have to accept it, believe it, trust that this is true.
God longs to have compassion on us, but He still insists on being our Lord. When we accept the gift we begin walking in the proper relationship to Him. We begin to seek His will and not our own. We begin listening to His Spirit as He leads us.
That brings us to the third verse I want you to focus on, verse 21, actually 21 and 22.
21 Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, "This is the way; walk in it." 22 Then you will defile your idols overlaid with silver and your images covered with gold; you will throw them away like a menstrual cloth and say to them, "Away with you!"
After going through the captivity in Babylon, the children of Abraham had learned a lesson. They came back trusting God and so they put away their idols. Idol worship was no longer a major problem for Israel. This was one of the ways God prepared the world for the coming of the Messiah.
Anything can become an idol. Whatever we put in God’s place is an idol. It can be money, or fame, or family, or a job, or even a building that is supposed to be dedicated to the promotion of the good news about salvation.
Your church family could become an idol if you allow it to be more important to you than God. Going through the motions of church can be an idol if you are trusting that instead of walking in a relationship with God.
In order to follow the law of God we must put Him above all other things. We must love Him with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength. This is where God was leading the Israelites. This is where He is leading you.
When you accept that Jesus is God, that He died to pay the penalty for your sin, for falling short of this greatest commandment, when you accept that truth, God’s Holy Spirit brings something new to life in you. You are born again, you are born of the Spirit, you are a new creation. You have God living in your heart.
This is the voice you hear that begins to teach you the truth, and helps you to see the way and to begin walking where that voice leads you.
Paul called it walking in the Spirit. We are either following our old ways, the flesh, the old nature who ignored what God wants, or we are walking in the Spirit, seeking to put God first and to love other people.
Are you listening to the voice of God? Are you going where He leads you?