You who are far away, hear what I have done; you who are near, acknowledge my power! The sinners in Zion are terrified; trembling grips the godless: “Who of us can dwell with the consuming fire? Who of us can dwell with everlasting burning?” Those who walk righteously and speak what is right, who reject gain from extortion and keep their hands from accepting bribes, who stop their ears against plots of murder and shut their eyes against contemplating evil— they are the ones who will dwell on the heights, whose refuge will be the mountain fortress. Their bread will be supplied, and water will not fail them. Your eyes will see the king in his beauty and view a land that stretches afar. In your thoughts you will ponder the former terror: “Where is that chief officer? Where is the one who took the revenue? Where is the officer in charge of the towers?” You will see those arrogant people no more, people whose speech is obscure, whose language is strange and incomprehensible. Look on Zion, the city of our festivals; your eyes will see Jerusalem, a peaceful abode, a tent that will not be moved; its stakes will never be pulled up, nor any of its ropes broken. There the Lord will be our Mighty One. It will be like a place of broad rivers and streams. No galley with oars will ride them, no mighty ship will sail them. For the Lord is our judge, the Lord is our lawgiver, the Lord is our king; it is he who will save us. – Isaiah 33:13-22
This passage speaks specifically to those who are “far away” from God. As one who was far away from God at one time, I can attest that God has a way of getting our attention if we are even remotely interested in seeking His face. We do need to heed God’s admonition to “hear what I have done”. This implies that 1) there are people “who are near” sharing about what He has done in their lives; and 2) we have the ears to hear when we hear these stories about God.
As followers of the Way, those “who are near”, we need to be both good listeners and good story tellers for those who are “far away”. We need to acknowledge God’s power in our lives and ways that He loves and cares for us. Those who openly reject God, the “sinners in Zion are terrified”. “Trembling grips the godless: “Who of us can dwell with the consuming fire? Who of us can dwell with everlasting burning?”. Those who run from God see only consuming fire, whereas those who stop and embrace His love are promised that “their bread will be supplied, and water will not fail them.” They will have access to a limitless supply of living water.
For those who have eyes to see their “eyes will see the king in his beauty and view a land that stretches afar.” I wonder if the “land that stretches afar” may be referring to something more than an earthly piece of property. Maybe it is a metaphor for the undiscovered country that God has promised those who become adept at listening to His whisper. In the land of Zion “the Lord will be our Mighty One. It will be like a place of broad rivers and streams. No galley with oars will ride them, no mighty ship will sail them.”
God is describing a place with living water so abundant that we cannot navigate it on our own. We must seek and pursue God’s help for the “the Lord is our lawgiver, the Lord is our king; it is he who will save us.” If we strike out on our own across these broad rivers and streams we may find that we are in over our head and subject to “turbulent water” that we cannot swim against.
Prayer: God Your love will help us to navigate broad rivers and streams. Help us to trust in Your power and tell those still far from You about it.