For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, “In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.” But you were unwilling, and you said, “No! We will flee upon horses”; therefore you shall flee away; and, “We will ride upon swift steeds”; therefore your pursuers shall be swift.
God’s wonderful grace gives second chances in spite of God’s people’s stubbornness to trust Him. God stipulated the conditions for Israel to return and restoring their relationship with God. Returning and rest are interesting statements. Returning is the basic idea of repentance. Back in chapter 29:13 God announced that Israel had given lip service to him but their hearts were far from him. In chapter 30:1 he calls them “rebellious” and trusting in Egypt not him. In spite of these sins, God continues to extend His hands to His people to welcome them back in a right relationship with Him. But as verse 15 indicates, “… you were unwilling…” Notice that the problem is not being unable but unwilling. Inability would indicate that they simply do not have the means or capacity to return but clearly that is not the problem. No matter how badly damaged their spirit, how rebellious their heart, the solution is not being unable but unwilling.
Salvation comes in quietness and in trust. Their strength as a people is not on what they can manufacture to restore their relationship with God. They cannot earn their way back with God and they certainly cannot trick God by their own ingenuity. God offers quietness in the noise and clutter of their own sin. Their strength, their refuge is found in trusting God. God cannot be duped into a bait and switch scenario where they can fool Him like one could a human being. The refuge is finding a place of peace and quietness in the midst of the clatter of voices and shouts that claim to offer strength and solutions. That refuge is God himself. God longs for his people to find the joy of His presence and rest in His grace and peace. God offers and offers again the pathway to restored and renewed relationship with him. In spite of His extreme patience and provision, His people continue to try to handle things their own way. They will trust in horses, they will trust in finding their own solution, they will seek their peace that is not grounded in God.
What an amazing reminder that God is gracious and generous to forgive for those with the courage to repent. He extended the opportunity to return a multitude of times to Israel and they kept on refusing to respond. God was not asking them to do any penance or any work to gain his favor. He was ready and willing to accept them if they would repent and return.
God is the refuge and the safe place for His people. If you took time to read the surrounding narrative God was allowing Israel’s enemies to multiply like the sand. Israel was being overwhelmed and God had the power to make that all go away but they continued to refuse to trust God and take Him at His word. It feels distressing just to think about it but it is an easy trap. It is easy to think we are smarter than God, we think we can control the situation and we think we have things handled. But of course we do not and we slide into the collateral damage of our own devices. How unattractive to find our refuge in Him. How foolish of us to reject the One who can restore our broken life and our fragmented ways. God continually offers a place of quietness, peace and rest. Might be a good place to return to.
In His grace,