The Lord ’s justice will dwell in the desert, his righteousness live in the fertile field. The fruit of that righteousness will be peace; its effect will be quietness and confidence forever. My people will live in peaceful dwelling places, in secure homes, in undisturbed places of rest. Though hail flattens the forest and the city is leveled completely, how blessed you will be, sowing your seed by every stream, and letting your cattle and donkeys range free. – Isaiah 32:16-20
Well this is a different picture than has been common for the last several passages. The view of the future presented here is definitely more rosy. One notable difference is that this coming peace, quietness, and confidence will be the fruit of God’s righteousness rather than anything we are doing. This is in contrast to the last couple of passages which seem to be saying that actually we, flawed followers that we are, have an important role to play in bringing about the coming peace. I suppose both can be true at the same time.
A couple of verses ago Isaiah shared that “in repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength” (Isaiah 30:12-17). In this passage we are promised “quietness and confidence forever”. This idea of quietness comes up in both passages. What is meant by quietness? Does it mean simply lack of noise? Does it mean we are to sit in seclusion on a mountaintop in prayer? Are we to be quiet in our demeanor and slow to speak? Can we be quiet in our soul while all around us is anything but quiet?
Perhaps it means that we are to quiet all the noise and clamor in our souls so that we can experience God’s presence here in this land of oblivion. We participate in His righteousness by slowing down and positioning our souls so that we can see it. When we are successful with our posture and perspective we can experience the peace that comes from being in God’s presence here on earth.
I am a Star Trek fan and I grew up watching the original series on television with William Shatner as Captain Kirk. We used to play elaborate games on the playground reenacting episodes. At the time I was often cast as Captain Kirk — I had a big ego for a first grader. There is an episode in the original series called “wink of an eye” where the waters of an alien planet result in accelerated humans that invade the Enterprise and kidnap captain Kirk. The crew of the enterprise cannot see these invaders because they are travelling at such a speed that they cannot be perceived by the normal senses, except perhaps as an insect buzzing sound.
This is an imperfect analogy at best for our relationship to the spiritual world that God invites us to join. Captain Kirk can only sense the different world of the aliens when he himself is accelerated to join them, which means that the crew perceive him to have disappeared. Perhaps this is similar to the quietness that God is talking about. When we are successful at quieting our souls enough to hear God’s whisper we may find that those around us may see a quiet and confident person that is able to weather hail that flattens the forest and the levels the city.
It is up to us to “sow our seed by every stream”. We are to be connected to spring and sink our roots into the bank of the stream so that we can reach the living water that is God. The promise provided here is that if we do this we will have the quietness and confidence that we are seeking.
Prayer: God help us to quiet our souls so that we can hear Your whisper with quietness and confidence.