To be Spared from Evil

“The righteous perish, and no one takes it to heart; the devout are taken away, and no one understands that the righteous are taken away to be spared from evil. Those who walk uprightly enter into peace; they find rest”

Isaiah 57: 1-2 NIV

How are you doing?  Me and my house, we are doing well (we were doing great until a sudden non-viral death in the family brought mourning. We mourn as we must, but we are doing well overall.) This pandemic has not robbed the joy of our salvation or our peace. 
During this pandemic I am speaking with (telephone, texts, DMs, PMs, etc) so many who are not followers of Christ who do not have peace. I understand that, they do not know hope and do not have the revelation of grace.  I speak my testimony and pray for them. It’s such a blessing to participate with. I am blessed to be a blessing and I am blessed by being a blessing. You see, I am able to because I have peace.

“You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.” Isaiah 26:3 NKJV

This peace is a gift from God – but we have to work for it. We much discipline our minds to be “stayed on Him”.  (Go back and read my post – Grace for the battle over your mind – if you need more help with this)
So I have conversations with my fellow Christians and find two things:
1. They want a magic pill – God to do the work and they want to just receive it without any growth, work or disciple. But with somethings the Bible is very clear we must participate in achieving. Like peace – we keep our minds on Christ – he gives us peace. 
2. Lack of understanding God’s gracious plan through this pandemic. God’s wisdom isn’t like conventional human wisdom. It takes us asking God to open our understanding to it. I pray this over this post – so you may understand and have peace.

Let me give you an example of God’s wisdom.  This is a testimony of my life – a small thing God has done to provide. I pray you understand.  I have feet that are two different sizes.  So I usually buy cheap shoes because I have to buy 2 different pair (sometimes I can find one pair that will stay on both feet comfortably but that is usually boots and sandals).  With my Asperger’s syndrome I also have sensory issues and MANY of them are on my feet. Add to this that I am poor – literally and do not have the money for this nonsense.  So, my winter boots – I wore them until the sole fell off. I said: God, please provide. And I found superglue in my desk drawer and glued them back together.  This was a blessing and gift from God. And people tell me wasn’t because he did not give me new boots – But, he did! My boots that are comfortable and do not bother me are temporarily made new and I can finish the season.  However I did notice that the season for boots was ending and it isn’t yet sandal season, so I said: God, please provide. He said “Stay home until sandal season and enjoy wearing your socks!”
And again I heard “but God did not get you new shoes”.  And I say: He did exceeding abundantly above all I could ask or think! You see, God’s wisdom and his plan is NOT the conventional wisdom of man.

In Isaiah 57 – Isaiah is trying to explain God’s wisdom and that God has a plan for each of us. And each of us he plans to protect and provide for differently, but to all of His follows he wants peace. Let’s read it again:
“The righteous perish,” I am sorry, but some will – He has brought them home to His glory because it is his plan. Knowing that all things work together for good (Romans 8:28) we must submit out minds and wills to His will.
“and no one takes it to heart” Let the understanding of your heart (Esp. 1:18) be opened!
“the devout are taken away, and no one understands that the righteous are taken away to be spared from evil.” During this pandemic the majority of the world must stay home – be taken away.  It is you that I am speaking to right now – You are safe in your home covered by God’s protection and spared from evil. Are you waking up saying this is easy and a blessing! What if the answer was to sleep naked in a tree top?!?! That would be hard.  God has spared you with the easiest task possible. Stay home.
As for essential employees running out into this to keep the minimal vital processes and healthcare functioning – You are separated by your faith – you are in this world, but not of it (John 17:14-16) and God has also spared you from the evil – this takes more faith and I am sure it would take another post to fully explain. But He has you.
And finally “Those who walk uprightly enter into peace; they find rest”. Keep your eyes on Jesus not on what is happening around us.  We should be aware of what is going on – but focused on the prize!  The whole point of being a Christian is having a relationship with Him, telling others about Him, and watching and praying for His return.  Just focus on that.

This post is very wordy – but Isaiah (as we continue studying this chapter) has a lot to say. It is important to realize the blessing of ‘being taken out of this’ and ‘peace’ found in verse 1 and 2 comes with the rest of this chapter.  It should be digested and thought about together.

“But you—come here, you children of a sorceress, you offspring of adulterers and prostitutes! Who are you mocking? At whom do you sneer and stick out your tongue? Are you not a brood of rebels, the offspring of liars? You burn with lust among the oaks and under every spreading tree; you sacrifice your children in the ravines and under the overhanging crags. The idols among the smooth stones of the ravines are your portion; indeed, they are your lot. Yes, to them you have poured out drink offerings and offered grain offerings. In view of all this, should I relent? You have made your bed on a high and lofty hill; there you went up to offer your sacrifices.
Behind your doors and your doorposts you have put your pagan symbols. Forsaking me, you uncovered your bed, you climbed into it and opened it wide; you made a pact with those whose beds you love, and you looked with lust on their naked bodies. You went to Molek with olive oil and increased your perfumes. You sent your ambassadors far away; you descended to the very realm of the dead! 10 You wearied yourself by such going about, but you would not say, ‘It is hopeless.’ You found renewal of your strength, and so you did not faint.
11 “Whom have you so dreaded and feared that you have not been true to me, and have neither remembered me nor taken this to heart? Is it not because I have long been silent that you do not fear me? 12 I will expose your righteousness and your works, and they will not benefit you.
13 When you cry out for help, let your collection of idols save you! The wind will carry all of them off, a mere breath will blow them away. But whoever takes refuge in me will inherit the land and possess my holy mountain.”

Isaiah 57:3-13 NIV

Oof! In quick summary (which cannot do this justice) Isaiah is pointing out that the people are acting righteous and doing ‘good works’ but have hardened their hearts and compromised in sin. The focus of the people is on things (provisions if you will) and not focused on The Provider – and he relates it to idolatry.  Isaiah covers all sorts of sins throughout this passage – be careful not to find yourself in there – and if you do, then repent! Because God will NOT save you – he will let your collection of idols save you.
Do not say, but this is Old Testament and does not apply to me – the Old Testament is the prophesy of grace the same grace that is the redemption story we celebrated yesterday. This salvation is salvation from the enemies in our lives (sickness, disease, trials, tribulations, etc.) and is also salvation from the wrath to come and the judgment of God, and eternal damnation.

Take heart. This chapter is a positiveity sandwich! A blessing, a reprimand, and promise!

14 And it will be said: “Build up, build up, prepare the road! Remove the obstacles out of the way of my people.” 15 For this is what the high and exalted One says— he who lives forever, whose name is holy: “I live in a high and holy place, but also with the one who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite. 16 I will not accuse them forever, nor will I always be angry, for then they would faint away because of me— the very people I have created. 17 I was enraged by their sinful greed; I punished them, and hid my face in anger, yet they kept on in their willful ways. 18 I have seen their ways, but I will heal them; I will guide them and restore comfort to Israel’s mourners, 19creating praise on their lips. Peace, peace, to those far and near,” says the Lord. “And I will heal them.”

Isaiah 57: 14-19 NIV

Praise the Lord! He points out our sins, and how we are NOT focused on him – and reminds us that doing that has grave consequences!  AND then he reminds us that if we repent he is faithful and just to forgive us (John 1:9)!!!!  And we shall have peace – we shall survive and even thrive through this. It will be for the glory of God and others will ask (and have asked me): how are you so peaceful and positive? And it opens the door to give God the glory and share my testimony.

Isaiah isn’t done there. And neither am I.  I found myself in a situation where I shared with a Christian how I am doing great – and she said I cannot be implying I am lying. I shared what God is doing and a prayer request – which she filtered through her fear and stress and projected it onto me. She prayed for me and it was SO FAR AWAY from what I had asked. She prayed that I had peace and wisdom – ah well, I guess I can use some more. But my heart breaks for her and others like her.  Lord, she needs the peace!

If you are a Christian and you think your mind is stayed on him but you are still without peace – I challenge you to do some soul searching to see if there is any wicked way in you. And we finish the chapter:

20 But the wicked are like the tossing sea, which cannot rest, whose waves cast up mire and mud. 21 “There is no peace,” says my God, “for the wicked.”

Isaiah 57:20-21 NIV

ADDITIONAL THOUGHTS:
I also have a different perspective on this pandemic – it is not a trial for me.  I have lived a difficult life and have survived so much more than staying home (with a job to go back to), a loss of value in my 401k (403b, stocks, bonds, money market, etc.), and an order to wash my hand and not touch my face.  This is easy (even being an essential healthcare worker, who is blessed with the ability to work from home most of the time).  I also understand that other than 9-11, which shook our nation, and the recession of 2008 – many of you have been blessed and lived a peaceable life without the struggles I have survived.  I understand that this can shake a person, but let me encourage you to just stay on the path God has you on and keep moving forward and it will pass. God has promised he is responsible for fixing it – not you. He said he will, but in His will, and through His wisdom, which is not or own.  Just keep your eyes on Jesus!
And brothers and sister – I have read the end of the Book, and I know the signs of the times and I know we are here for such a time as this – so remember this is nothing compared to all that is on its way. Learn now to fight for your peace and keep your eyes on God. If Jesus doesn’t return for his sheep soon – we will only see things getting harder and God separating us more from the world.  Be of good cheer – this is all part of the plan.  Read the Bible and be encouraged.  God is Good.

~Peace~
~Grace be with you ~Thank you for reading ~ be healthy and blessed ~ Pray for our nation ~ pray Psalm 91 ~