If we are "normal Christians," we will go through times of testing, trial, and even severe trouble. Isaiah Chapter 33 has recently given me great comfort through such trials.
So often the Lord comes in the storms and clouds of life, and we think it is the enemy.
Isaiah Chapter 33 refers to a time of severe testing and trial for Gods people. This was a time when God was defeating their enemies, however the conflict took its toll on the Israelites. Isaiah 33:10 says, "Now I will rise," says the LORD; Now I will be exalted, Now I will lift Myself up."
However, the Israelites still experienced great fear and trembling. They said in Isaiah 33:14 " Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? Who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings?"
The Lord answers their question, "Who shall dwell ."
"He who walks righteously and speaks uprightly, He who despises the gain of oppressions, Who gestures with his hands, refusing bribes, Who stops his ears from hearing of bloodshed, And shuts his eyes from seeing evil: He will dwell on high; His place of defense will be the fortress of rocks; Bread will be given him, His water will be sure " (Isaiah 33:15,16).
There is a pleasant surprise for the people who choose to stand with the Lord through difficult times. They will receive a reward FAR beyond their imagination.
"Your eyes will see the King in His beauty; They will see the land that is very far off" (Isaiah 33:17).
When we go through times in our lives of standing through trials, we end up seeing our King Jesus face to face. His presence becomes a reward that makes even the eventual victory wax pale. It is one thing to see His Word, see His acts, come into His presence in a corporate service, but when we are alone with Him and see His FACE, it is awesome. We know it is very personal. Nothing in our lives can match this experience!
The Lord says that after seeing His face, that we will even forget about our enemies and the battle that is going on. Who cares about what the enemy is doing when you see Jesus face to face!
" Your mind will meditate on the terror, asking, Where is he who counted, where is he who weighed the tribute? Where is he who counted the towers? You shall see no more the fierce and insolent people ." (Isaiah 33:18,19).
Verses 20-21 indicates that the Lord will give us His peace until this trial is over. In spite of all of the circumstances, we shall see "quiet habitations," and "stable tents."
This can and should be our experience in the spiritual battles of our lives.
Then God becomes our judge, the one who will finally end the trial that we are in.
"For the LORD is our Judge, The LORD is our Lawgiver, The LORD is our King; He will save us" (Isaiah 33:22). This is like Daniel 7:22 when the Ancient of Days enters our courtroom and calls Satan guilty and us innocent!
The promise is that we will end up in a situation described in verse 21, "a place of broad rivers and streams, where no oar-propelled boat can go, nor mighty and stately ship can pass. This is a place of abundance, but is also a place where no human effort can make any contribution.
Verse 23 confirms this. "Your hoisting ropes hang loose; they cannot strengthen and hold firm the foot of the mast, or keep the sail spread out." So here we are in a place of utter helplessness. We cannot row the boat or even spread the sail to catch the wind!
Here is the promise from our merciful Heavenly King:
" Then the prey of great plunder is divided; The lame take the prey. And the inhabitant will not say, I am sick; The people who dwell in it will be forgiven their iniquity" (Isaiah 33:23,24).
Whatever God purposes for our lives, whatever "plunder, spoil or prey" the enemy has been withholding, will be released to us. However we know for sure that it is all of grace and no human effort made any contribution (except of course obedience to the Lord).
The lame will take the prey? That is not the way the world keeps score! Why is this Gods plan?
In the animal world, the very form of an animal alters to enable it to reach that upon which it delights to feed. So reaching after the treasures of the Kingdom, our whole nature becomes changed.
During our time of spiritual warfare we stand on the Word of God beyond human hope, our natural abilities are of no use, and we become "broken." We become like Jacob after he wrestled with the Angel of God all-night and ended up cripple for life in his flesh. However his name was changed from "manipulator" (Jacob) to "he will rule as God" (Israel).
The results are:
1. We see Jesus face to face.
2. We obtain the prey and spoil by grace and mercy.
3. We are changed, crushed, and broken so that the fragrance of the Holy Spirit prevails in our lives.
Larry Chkoreff, June, 2000