Turn to the LORD

KEY VERSE: “In returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength.” —Isaiah 30:15


IN ALL of the warnings that the Lord spoke to the nation of Israel through the Prophet Isaiah, there was always the offer on the part of God to forgive their sins and accept them back into his favor if they would but repent and be obedient. The Key Verse of our lesson is a summary of such an offer. The thought of returning involves a reversal of their course of disobedience and sin. The Lord’s displeasure with their past course is expressed in the prior texts, “This is a rebellious people, lying children, children that will not hear the law of the Lord: which say to the seers, See not, and to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits: get you out of the way, turn aside out of the path, cause the Holy One of Israel to cease from before us.”—Isa. 30:10,11

History records that in spite of all the warnings, the Israelites continued in their oppression and perverseness even to the time of our Lord’s first advent, for Jesus condemned them for the same transgressions, saying, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent to thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!” (Matt. 23:37) And we know that after their rejection of him, the Jews were again cast off and scattered to the four corners of the earth.

Jesus concluded his condemnation of the Israelites with the statement, “For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.” (Matt. 23:39) This will be the wonderful time of the kingdom when Israel will have returned to the Lord. The Prophet Jeremiah spoke of this time, “Thus saith the Lord, the God of Israel; Like these good figs, so will I acknowledge them that are carried away captive of Judah, whom I have sent out of this place into the land of the Chaldeans for their good. For I will set mine eyes upon them for good, and I will bring them again to this land: and I will build them, and not pull them down; and I will plant them, and not pluck them up.”—Jer. 24:5,6

The Lord stated in our Key Verse that not only must Israel return but they must also rest in the Lord. The thought of resting in God is that they would cease to depend on their own strength and wisdom to attain to righteousness, and depend only on the overruling providences of the Lord. This involves having God’s law written in their minds and hearts (Jer. 31:33,34), and knowing what the Lord expects of them they would be better able to exercise obedience. The Lord, through the Prophet Isaiah, gives us some idea as to how this will be accomplished, “Though the Lord give you the bread of adversity, and the water of affliction, yet shall not thy teachers be removed into a corner any more, but thine eyes shall see thy teachers: and thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left. Ye shall defile also the covering of thy graven images of silver, and the ornament of thy molten images of gold. … Then shall he give the rain of thy seed, that thou shalt sow the ground withal; and bread of the increase of the earth, and it shall be fat and plenteous: in that day shall thy cattle feed in large pastures.”—Isa. 30:20-23

Under the Law Covenant the Israelites received their instruction from the scribes and Pharisees who were blinded by their pride, and whom Jesus described as “blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.” (Matt. 15:14) This situation will not exist in the kingdom when Israel turns to the Lord, for the instructors will know God and his precepts and the people will profit by their instruction. The voice behind them will not be a literal voice, but their conscience supported by an enlightened mind will make plain the way of the Lord. Jeremiah tells us that in that day the instructors will be so successful that mankind “shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, saith the Lord.”—Jer. 31:24

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