Seek Ye the Lord

“Slowly he rose, and the crowd fell silent. Those at the back leaned forward, straining to hear. The atmosphere was electric. He spoke, and his carefully chosen words flew like swift arrows and found their mark. The great man, a spokesman from God, was warning . . . and condemning. The crowd became restless Ð shifting positions, clenching fists, and murmuring. Some agreed with his message, nodding their heads and weeping softly. But most were angry, and they began to shout back insults and threats.

“Such was the life of a prophet.

“The prophet’s role was to speak for God, confronting the people and their leaders with God’s commands and promises. Because of this confrontational stance and the continuing tendency of people to disobey God, true prophets usually were not very popular.

“The book of Isaiah is the first of the writings of the Prophets in the Bible; and Isaiah is considered to be the greatest of the prophets. In the beginning of his ministry he was well-liked. But, like most prophets, he soon became unpopular because his messages were so difficult to hear. He called the people to turn from their lives of sin and warned them of God’s judgment and punishment. Isaiah had an active ministry for 60 years before he was executed during Manasseh’s reign.”

To whom does Isaiah write? In his day, Isaiah wrote to the people of Judah. In our day, the prophet writes to all who read their Bibles. This is not only the message of history, but also the Word of the Lord for all to hear in every generation.

He begins by saying, “Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters.” (Isaiah 55:1)

“Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near.

Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts.

Let him turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on him,

and to our God, for he will freely pardon.”

R.C. Sproul writes, “People do not seek God. They seek the benefits that only God can give. Man seeks the benefit of God, while at the same time fleeing from God Himself.” Here the prophet is telling us to forget, for the moment, the benefits God brings to us, and seek Him. Our Heavenly Father is solicitous of our ear. He confronts Judah with their wickedness and assures them that God will judge them. When this judgment came to pass, Judah was taken into captivity in Babylon. However, in the midst of Judah’s suffering, Isaiah tells them there is hope. God would abundantly pardon them, and the exiled people would one day return to Jerusalem.

In the meantime, God says through Isaiah, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10) While the Law was condemning and frightening, the Gospel was forgiving and filled with hope. God would not condone their sin, but if they repented, He would forgive them.

This is the message of God to our world that is without answers to the major problems of our society. Secretary of State Colin Power has now spent days pleading with the Palestinians and Israelis. What has he said among many other words of wisdom? “Stop killing people. Life is precious. Ask yourself, ÔHow are we as Palestinians or Jews at fault? Be willing to confess your own wrong and do something about it. Forgive the past and move on to the future.'”

Where did the Secretary receive these thoughts? From God’s Word. The basic problem in the Mideast is not to find what must happen if there is to be peace. The primary challenge is to bring the people to accept God’s answer to the problem. You may think this is an oversimplification. What then is your answer?

The world leaders Ð Palestinians, Israelis, Americans, and all the rest Ð need our prayers that God, Who has given us the answer for our problems, will open our hardened hearts and make us receptive to His Word. It is at this point, when all else fails, that Isaiah says, “Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near.”

Let’s move on to something more personal. A loved one is taken from us in death. Those who mourn ask, “How do I start over?” Our culture counsels, “These difficult times happen to all of us sooner or later. Time is the healer. You’ll be all right, and life will go on again.” There is some truth in these words, but don’t you need more at that time? I do. I need the Gospel. Jesus died for your loved one, and if he or she died in that faith, trusting Him, they live in heaven. Our grieving is not for the person who died. It is for ourself. Then we hear these words, which bring hope, “My grace is sufficient for you.” God says, “I am with you. Walk with me, and your eyes will be opened to behold greater blessings I have for you. Seek me in my Word and among my people, which is the Church.”

We have these blessed truths in the Bible, but are we not often like the Psalmist who wrote, “When I was in distress, I sought the Lord. At night I stretched out untiring hands, and my soul refused to be comforted.” Sometimes God’s voice is not comforting. It is not what we want to hear. It is then that we are tempted to walk away from Him rather than seek Him out.

These words, “Seek ye the Lord,” are for the believer and the unbeliever. It is in your relationship with Him that you will find answers for your most troublesome problems. In these days, can we afford to live without God’s guidance?