He who said to them, "Here is rest, give rest to the weary," And, "Here is repose," but they would not listen.Isaiah 28:12(NASB)
Isaiah was sent by the Lord to minister to Israel. His mission was to point out their gross apostasy and encourage them to change their ways while warning them of the consequences that would follow, if they failed to repent of their sins and return to the Lord their God.
In this section before us, Isaiah had already prophesied of the coming Saviour Who would deliver them out of the hands of their enemies. He declared terrible judgements on various pagan nations and Gentile cities, before alerting Israel of their own punishment for disobedience, and the kingdom blessings that would follow the faithful remnant that honoured the Lord.
In this verse, we have a peep into the goodness and grace of God towards His errant people, for He promised: "Rest and repose for the weary." However, this beautiful promise is immediately followed by the shocking response of God's rebellion nation, for we read: "He said to them, 'Here is rest. Give rest to the weary. Here is repose,' BUT they would not listen."
The loving-kindness and long-suffering of the Lord is beautifully expressed in this little verse, but the final part of Isaiah's utterance is very disturbing: "BUT they would not listen." The nation whose God is the Lord, is Israel. But despite their great privileges and precious promises they would not harken to the Word of their God, listen to the warnings of Isaiah, nor change their ways when admonished by other prophets of God.
Isaiah had to chastise both northern and southern kingdoms for being dull in their minds, deaf in their ears, and blind in their eyes. Both the kingdoms of 'Ephraim' and 'Judah' received strong pronouncements of woe, but they rejected the Lord and boasted of the treaty they made with Egypt! Little did they realise that this was a covenant with death and Sheol, for they placed their trust in the lies and deceitfulness of men rather than in the unchanging Word of the Lord.
Because they would not harken to the simple Word of the Lord, Isaiah prophesied that God would send a foreign army who would speak an alien language they could not understand. This invasion into their beautiful land would be a sign of God's judgement upon them. The offer of rest and respite for the weary was refused and would be replaced with severe punishment - and God would use a foreign army to administer His certain judgement upon them.
As we consider the rebellion of Israel in the book of Isaiah and their refusal to listen to the Word of the Lord, each one of us should challenge our own heart and consider our own response to the Word of God. Do we listen to His voice or shut our ears to His leading and guidance? Do we go to the One Who says, "Come to Me all ye who labour and are heavy laden and I will give you rest," or do we choose to go our own way?
Heavenly Father, thank You for the lessons I can learn from the testimony and prophetic writings of Isaiah and other prophets of God who warn against disobedience and encourage us in our faith. May I open my ears to all that You have to say. Help me to stand fast on the Word of God, which gives life and health to the penitent sinner. In Jesus' name, AMEN.