So this is what the Sovereign Lord says: “See, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation; the one who relies on it will never be stricken with panic. I will make justice the measuring line and righteousness the plumb line; hail will sweep away your refuge, the lie, and water will overflow your hiding place. Your covenant with death will be annulled; your agreement with the realm of the dead will not stand. When the overwhelming scourge sweeps by, you will be beaten down by it. As often as it comes it will carry you away; morning after morning, by day and by night, it will sweep through.” The understanding of this message will bring sheer terror. The bed is too short to stretch out on, the blanket too narrow to wrap around you. The Lord will rise up as he did at Mount Perazim, he will rouse himself as in the Valley of Gibeon— to do his work, his strange work, and perform his task, his alien task. – Isaiah 28:16-21
I continue to be amazed at the amount of prophetic passages in Isaiah. This passage contains prophetic references to a savior, “reflections of Him“, in the form of a “cornerstone” — “the one who relies on it will never be stricken with panic”. Justice and righteousness will ensure that this foundation is true and good.
Then comes a confusing “bend in the river” that includes several water references: “hail will sweep away your refuge, the lie, and water will overflow your hiding place”. I picture a person clinging to a rock for refuge as flood waters rise, hail pummels, and rain drenches. I assume that the “refuge” here is a metaphor for all the things that we rely on in place of God, our true refuge and shelter in the storm.
When we trust in earthly shelter and comfort we are making a deal with death which God is saying will be annulled. We give up a part of our soul in exchange for safety and comfort for our earthly bodies. The earthly comfort we receive, which is apart from God, just does not compare to the love and comfort being offered by God: “The bed is too short to stretch out on, the blanket too narrow to wrap around you.” When we put all our eggs in the basket of this world for refuge we will be disappointed.
God will rise up (perhaps rise from the dead) and “do his work, his strange work, and perform his task, his alien task”. The work of Jesus on the cross would certainly qualify as mysterious and strange from our vantage point here in the land of oblivion. For God it was a task in a world alien to Him in many ways.
So here in Isaiah is the kernel of the Gospel. We are lost; hiding in our refuges built by dependence on ourselves and earthly things. God sends One who will be the “Cornerstone” of a new refuge that is not of this world. He Himself will accomplish this strange work to set us free from our comfortable coffin here on earth so that we can join Him in the “undiscovered country“. He will sweep away “the lie” with a truth far greater.
Prayer: God thank You for providing us with real refuge and setting us free from our false places of refuge here on earth.