"You will keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You."

Certain Destruction and a Promise of Peace

Isaiah may be one of the most cherry-picked books of the Old Testament, maybe even in the whole Bible! It’s almost irresistible! We snatch favorite verses out of context, appropriating promises without a thought in our heads about the original audience or the author’s intent. On our journey through Isaiah together, I am resisting the temptation to write about all my favorites, but, posting only twice weekly here means that we are leaving vast landscapes of the prophetic record unacknowledged:

  • In Isaiah 7, King Ahaz’s quivering over Syria’s occupation reminds us that when the worst has happened and there is every reason to fear, the Word of the Lord is our sure defense, the only impregnable stronghold.
  • Messianic hope springs up even in Israel’s desperate times with Isaiah’s prophecy of a Child in chapter 9 and a Rod from the stem of Jesse in chapter 11. Jesse had been dead for five hundred years, and Israel had already been laid waste by Assyria, but NOTHING is impossible for God.
  • Isaiah 12 is the perfect length for a memorization project and offers hope that sounds like Advent to me:

Therefore with joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation”

Isaiah 12:3

The great leap from last Sunday’s post to today encompassed some somber words of proclamation, and did you notice how often the word against shows up in the first verse of chapters 13-23? Isaiah is making it clear that nations who have set their faces against the one true God have earned his holy wrath against them. Even in this, “the LORD of hosts shall be exalted in judgment” (5:16).

Turning the Corner from Judgment to Praise

After venting his wrath in nation-specific proclamations, God pronounces judgment against the whole earth in Isaiah 24, but his judgment is always in the service of redemption, and chapters 25-27 end this reading segment with songs of salvation and restoration.

I have history with one verse in particular–my introduction to the book of Isaiah as a high school student, dreading a big audition, and terrified of failure. One godly friend shared Isaiah 26:3 as a path toward a peaceful heart:

You will keep him in perfect peace,
Whose mind is stayed on You,
Because he trusts in You.”

Isaiah 26:3
"You will keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You."

Hers was a blessed cherry picking of Isaiah, and one that I believe Isaiah himself would have sanctioned, for his song of salvation reverberates through the centuries for all who waited for his coming and for those who now find comfort in the nearness of Emmanuel.

Stayed on Him,

Isaiah’s song of salvation reverberates through the centuries for all who waited for his coming and for those who now find comfort in the nearness of Emmanuel.

It’s not too late to join us in our journey through Isaiah. Download the reading schedule here, and be saturated in truth from Isaiah’s pen during this Advent season!

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34 thoughts on “Certain Destruction and a Promise of Peace”

  1. I’m enjoying your thoughts on Isaiah, Michele🙂. We do forget the great swathes of time that have elapsed in the waiting for a Messiah, especially as they’re now encapsulated for us in print that can easily be read through in a few months’ time. But 500 years? But sure we can even fathom that.
    Also, technical question, what sources do you use for your background research on the chronology of Kings and prophets and such? Just curious. Blessings on you for your time gifted to us in writing!

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  2. Michele, I confess, this specific verse in Isaiah has brought me through many uncertain times. I’m with you in that I really like to know the context around a certain verse, not just cherry-picking the verse. 🙂 Isaiah is such an amazing book. I’m not reading through it this month, but every time I do read it, I feel like I glean new truths I hadn’t understood before.

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  3. Michele … I’ve always struggled with getting through Isaiah. Your reflections are an encouragement. And thanks for the reminder not to grab verses and chapters without considering the context of who they were written to and why. Good stuff.

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  4. Isaiah 26:3 has been one of my favorites. The verb “stayed” is particularly standing out to me just now, whereas “peace” probably did before. How we need to stay our minds on Him rather than only think of Him for fleeting moments.

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  5. Your post reminded me of a time many years ago when I first read the whole way through Isaiah. I had seen many quotes taken from the book written by the prophet and was surprised by the difference context made in the meaning of the words.

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    1. Yes, I think most people imagine Isaiah to be more like Proverbs with one gem after another. Turns out the gems are spread over 66 chapters of excellent writing but challenging reading.

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  6. Love Isaiah 12:3! So glad you highlighted it, Michele. It’s underlined in my Bible, but you breathed fresh insight into it today, by putting its message into the context of Advent. Praise God for the wells of salvation provided by His Son!

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  7. My daily Bible reading has me in Isaiah this month, and I admit there are times I just want to rush through…until I stumble into one of those cherry-picked verses. I admit I do like those the best. ha. But you’re right that it’s good to read all of it and keep it in context. Have a blessed weekend, Michele!

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  8. Isaiah, and so many other books in the bible, need thorough reading and not cherry picking. Thank you for bringing this to light and for linking up.

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  9. ********************************************************
    Thank you for sharing at #OverTheMoon. Pinned and shared. Have a lovely week. I hope to see you at next week’s party too! Please stay safe and healthy. Come party with us at Over The Moon! Catapult your content Over The Moon! @marilyn_lesniak @EclecticRedBarn
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