Stayed Upon Jehovah…Finding Perfect Peace—Isaiah 26:3-4

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Levi Durfey 

 

INTRODUCTION

 

1. Man Loves Conflict

 

Why is most of the news bad? Is because most of what happens is bad? No, it’s because people thrive on conflict and bad stuff. We love to be able to share something bad with someone else—“Did you hear about?” We love to argue about the latest bad thing that happens…there has to be a conspiracy behind it!

 

News editors know this—they know how to get ratings. They know that bad news, especially gory or controversial news, will get people flocking to the television or the smart phone apps to see or read.

 

People thrive on conflict even while saying they hate all the bad news. They say, “Oh, the news is terrible…I should just stop watching it. Say, did you hear about the shooting in Las Vegas?”

 

I can understand a news report over a really bad thing that happens, but why do we spend days examining every little morbid detail about it? And then, when you think about it, how much of those news stories really affect us?

 

Man loves conflict, but…

 

2. God Loves Peace

 

God loves peace—he really does. There are themes in Scripture that show us this. For instance, God is referred to as a “God of peace” (Romans 15:33; 16:20; 2 Corinthians 13:11; Philippians 4:9; 1 Thessalonians 5:23; Hebrews 13:20).

 

33 Now the God of peace be with you all. Amen. (Romans 15:33)

 

One of God’s names is Jehovah-Shalom, which means “The Lord sends peace.” (Judges 6:24). In the context of Judges 6, God used Gideon to free Israel from the Midianites so that they would have peace.

 

God loves to bless his people with peace. Throughout the Bible there are benedictions (a parting blessing) and one of the more famous ones is called that Aaronic benediction:

 

24 The Lord bless thee, and keep thee: 25 The Lord make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: 26 The Lord lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace. (Numbers 6:24–26)

 

It’s easy to get worked up and anxious in our culture today. The nightly news makes sure that you do. But our Lord doesn’t want us to be anxious. He desires us to live in his peace. 

 

God not only blesses his people with peace (see Leviticus 26:6; Numbers 6:24–26; Judges 5:31; Psalm 29:11; 119:165; Proverbs 16:7; Micah 4:1–4; Galatians 6:16), he wants them to live lives in his peace. Take a look at Isaiah 26—

 

1 In that day shall this song be sung in the land of Judah; 

We have a strong city; 

Salvation will God appoint for walls and bulwarks. 

2 Open ye the gates, 

That the righteous nation which keepeth the truth may enter in. 

 

3 Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, 

Whose mind is stayed on thee

Because he trusteth in thee. 

4 Trust ye in the Lord for ever: 

For in the Lord JEHOVAH is everlasting strength: 

 

5 For he bringeth down them that dwell on high; 

The lofty city, 

he layeth it low; 

He layeth it low, 

even to the ground; 

He bringeth it even to the dust. 

6 The foot shall tread it down, 

Even the feet of the poor, 

and the steps of the needy. 

(Isaiah 26:1–6)

 

Isaiah 26:1-6 is a song that the people of Judah will sing in the Millennial Kingdom, because of what the Lord will have done, like swallowing death up in victory and wiping tears away.

 

The song has three parts:

 

1. Verses 1 and 2 are praise to God for the strong city he will build.

2. Verses 3 and 4 are a call to trust in the Lord.

3. Verses 5 and 6 tell how God will bring down the prideful city of man.

 

It is the middle part in verses 3 and 4 that we will draw our attention to. This call to trust in the Lord contains some important principles for us to know about trusting God.

 

We will learn that…

 

WE CAN HAVE PERFECT PEACE…

 

Isaiah 26:3 Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on thee: Because he trusteth in thee. 

 

The term, “perfect peace,” is actually a doubled Hebrew word (שָׁלוֹם); it says literally, “Shalom, Shalom” (peace, peace). The Hebrew language doubles words for emphasis; the KJV brings that out with “perfect peace.”

 

Shalom is the Hebrew idea of peace, and it is more than just the absence of warfare. It carries a strong meaning of wholeness, completeness, and well-being.

 

Shalom is often used in greeting someone or asking about someone’s welfare. For example, when Joseph’s brothers came to him,

 

27 …he asked them of their welfare [shalom], and said, Is your father well [shalom], the old man of whom ye spake? Is he yet alive? (Genesis 43:27)

 

In other words, shalom is that state of being that all of us want for ourselves. It’s when life is good and all things work the way that they are supposed to work. Shalom is not just an absence of fear, it’s the presence of God’s blessing in your life. This is the peace of God that is promised in Isaiah 26.

 

Now, if you want this peace of God, you are going to have to begin with peace with God. To get peace with God, you have to realize that, as a sinner, you are at war with God!

 

20 And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. 21 And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled (Colossians 1:20–21; Romans 5:10; 8:7)

 

The path to this peace begins when you first realize that you are not right with God. That you are a sinner, and that every sin you have committed is an offense to God. It’s so offensive that you realize that you deserve to be eternally separated from God.

 

One danger of being raised in a conservative Christian home is that we think that we can be acceptable to God because of our moral lifestyles. We never do anything that bad, and certainly we are not like some of those awful sinners we see in the world. We can get the idea that we are already at peace with God. 

 

Parents, as we raise our children, we need to be careful that we don’t raise our kids to think that their morals make them acceptable to God. We need to keep pointing to the need of God’s grace to be acceptable to God. 

 

Let me clarify this and make an important distinction. Living a righteous life is what we are commanded to do and it pleases God when we do right things and avoid sin. But our righteousness cannot make us acceptable to God. Only Christ’s righteousness can make us acceptable to God.

 

6 But we are all as an unclean thing, And all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; And we all do fade as a leaf; And our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away. (Isaiah 64:6)

 

We are, without Christ, separated from God, estranged from God, and at war with God. You need to see that.

 

You also need to see that God seeks to reconcile you to himself. He paved the way for that reconciliation by sending Christ to die on the Cross for your sins, instead of having you pay a cost that you could not pay.

 

All you need to do is trust, or have faith, in Christ as the payment for your sins and you can be made right with God and have perfect peace.

 

Therefore being justified [that means made right] by faith [by trusting Christ], we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 5:1).

 

Is the Lord dealing with you about being at peace with him right now? When you trust in Christ, you will have peace with God. Your sins will be forgiven and you will no longer face Hell as judgment.

 

There’s peace with God, but there’s also the peace of God. This is a peace in your heart of trusting God is in control of events in your life, even when you are not in control. This is what Isaiah is talking about.

 

God’s promise here is that he will keep you in that perfect peace if your… 1) mind is stayed on him: 2) because you trusteth in him. 

 

We can have perfect peace…

 

IF WE HAVE A MIND STAYED UPON THE LORD

 

Isaiah 26:3 Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on thee: Because he trusteth in thee. 

 

The word for “mind” (יֵ֫צֶר) here is usually translated “imagination.” This is not imagination in the sense of  “that child has a active imagination.” Instead, this has to do with our way of thinking. For example, in Noah’s day…

 

5 And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. (Genesis 6:5)

 

In computer terms, the programming of their minds was evil continually. Such a mind is never at peace, because it is stuck on evil, which is the opposite of peace. I can’t imagine how horrible it must have been to live in Noah’s day—I am sure it was many times more terrible than today.

 

To have “perfect peace,” we need to get our minds, the programming of our minds, “stayed” on the Lord.

 

The word “stayed” means to grip something or to lay hold of something. Our minds, our way of thinking, must be gripped on God. Someone said: “To have this perfect peace, your mind cannot occasionally come to the LORD; it has to be stayed on Him” (Guzik).

 

Is your mind stayed on the Lord? How often do you think about him, study who he is, and pray to him? 

 

How does one keep one’s mind stayed on God? This is where the disciplines of Bible reading and prayer come into play. You cannot keep your mind stayed on someone that you don’t think about or talk to often.

 

Consider your favorite hobby. How much time to you spend doing that? And not just the actual doing of the hobby—how much time do you spend thinking about it or reading about it? Doesn’t God deserve that kind of commitment of your mind as well?

 

Having that sort of commitment to study the Lord in his Word and to communicate with him in prayer is foundational to building up trust in the Lord. Trusting the Lord is key to having perfect peace.

 

We can have perfect peace if we have a mind stayed upon the Lord…

 

AND WE TRUST IN THE LORD

 

Isaiah 26:3 Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on thee: Because he trusteth in thee. 

Isaiah 26:4 Trust ye in the LORD for ever: For in the LORD JEHOVAH is everlasting strength:

 

We need to study the Bible to know what the Lord thinks—but we need to also trust what he thinks. It’s when we trust what he thinks that we have minds that are fully stayed on the Lord.

 

As Christians, we are quick to say that we trust the Lord. But it is when bad things happen to us that our trust is put to the test. And then, when our trust is shaken, our peace is lost.

 

One Christian man testified of his difficulty trusting the Lord with a relationship with a woman whom he wanted to marry:

 

…in my early twenties, I prayed for an entire year about a girl I was dating and wanted to marry, but she wanted out of the relationship. All year I prayed, “Lord, don’t let her break up with me.” 

 

Of course, in hindsight, it was the wrong girl. I actually did what I could to help God with the prayer, because one summer, near the end of the relationship, I got in a location that made it easier to see her. I was saying, “Lord, I am making this as easy as possible for you. I have asked you for this, and I have even taken the geographical distance away.” 

 

But as I look back, God was saying, “Son, when a child of mine makes a request, I always give that person what he or she would have asked for if they knew everything I know.” 

 

Do you believe that? To the degree you believe that, you are going to have peace. (Keller, Walking with God through Pain and Suffering, 302)

 

Do you trust God to know what is best for your life? There are some basic truths that, when we trust them, we can have perfect peace in any situation. What are those basic truths? If you are a Christian:

 

(1) Bad things will happen, but we can have peace in Jesus:

 

33 These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. (John 16:33)

 

(2) Bad things will work out for good:

 

28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)

 

(3) The good things for the Christian are spiritual, not physical, and therefore can never be taken away from you. 

 

36 As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. 37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. 38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:36–39)

 

(4) The best things—the new Heavens and the new Earth and life forever there—are yet to come (Revelation 22:1ff).

 

When you grip these basic truths with your mind and trust them with all your heart, the Lord will “keep” you in perfect peace.

 

CONCLUSION

 

I read about two young Christians who were actors in New York… 

 

They both auditioned for the same role, and it was the biggest one for which they’d ever been considered. Both were professing Christians, but one…put all his emotional and spiritual hopes into having a successful acting career. He believed in Jesus, but it was clear that he could only enjoy life and feel good about himself if his career was going well. [What did he have his mind stayed upon?]

 

The other man was also a professing Christian, but after some disappointments, he had come to the place where he wanted as his main goal in life to please and honor the God who had saved him. He thought he could do that by being an actor. [What did he have his mind stayed upon?]

 

They were both turned down—neither got the part. The first man was devastated, going into a time of depression and drug abuse. The other felt terrible at first, and wept. But not long afterward, he was fine, and saying, “I guess I was wrong. Looks like I can please and honor God better in some other career.” See the difference? (Keller, Walking with God through Pain and Suffering, 307-308)

 

Do you have the peace of God in your life? If not, what do you have your mind stayed upon?


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