Isaiah: Then He Remembered.

10 “But they rebelled and grieved his Holy Spirit; therefore he turned to be their enemy, and himself fought against them. 11 Then he remembered the days of old, of Moses and his people. Where is he who brought them up out of the sea with the shepherds of his flock? Where is he who put in the midst of them his Holy Spirit, 12 who caused his glorious arm to go at the right hand of Moses, who divided the waters before them to make for himself an everlasting name, 13 who led them through the depths? Like a horse in the desert, they did not stumble. 14 Like livestock that go down into the valley, the Spirit of the Lord gave them rest. So you led your people, to make for yourself a glorious name.” (Isaiah 63:10–14)

A tragic response begins today’s text. In the aftermath of Isaiah’s wonderful narrative of the LORD’s mercy and salvation of His people (Isaiah 63:7-9), the prophet then shares the devastating response by God’s people to the person and work of the LORD:But they rebelled and grieved his Holy Spirit;” (Isaiah 63:10a).

To rebel means to be contentious, disobedient and rebellious to authority. The underlying reason for such rebellion is hostility towards the one who the individuals, and nations, rebel against. For Israel then, and for individuals today, this was an action against God which began at a particular point in time in the past but which also results in continuous behavior in the present.

Such hostility by God’s people towards God grieves God the Holy Spirit. Ephesians 4:30-32 says, 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”  

Dr. John MacArthur writes, “God is grieved when his children refuse to change the old ways of sin for those righteous ways of the new life. It should be noted that such responses by the Holy Spirit indicate he is a person. His personhood is also indicated by personal pronouns (John 14:17; 16:13), his personal care of believers (John 14:16, 26; 15:26), his intellect (1 Cor. 2:11), feelings (Rom. 8:27), will (1 Cor. 12:11), speaking (Acts 13:2), convicting (John 16:8–11), interceding (Rom. 8:26), guiding (John 16:13), glorifying Christ (John 16:14), and serving God (Acts 16:6–7).”

Be forewarned. Isaiah indicated that when such hostility occurs by God’s people, God becomes their adversary: “…therefore he turned to be their enemy, and himself fought against them” (Isaiah 63:10b). If we become hostile towards God, He may very well become hostile towards us. We must not presume upon the grace and mercy of God. He will “come to blows” as it were against His people who become His adversaries.

This is the truth with which the Prophet Habakkuk struggled (Habakkuk 1-2). He realized that God’s people were rebellious. He knew they deserved God’s wrath. However, Habakkuk 3:1-2 says, “A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet, according to Shigionoth. O Lord, I have heard the report of you, and your work, O Lord, do I fear. In the midst of the years revive it; in the midst of the years make it known; in wrath remember mercy.”  

Thankfully, there is grace within this text. It is God’s grace and mercy. “Then he remembered the days of old” (Isaiah 63:11a). The people have forgotten the person and work of God. They have become hostile towards Him. Yet, He still remembers and recalls the days of old.

It is here that the prophet recalled many of the highlights of God’s sovereign and providential care of His people in the past. “…of Moses and his people. Where is he who brought them up out of the sea with the shepherds of his flock? Where is he who put in the midst of them his Holy Spirit, 12 who caused his glorious arm to go at the right hand of Moses, who divided the waters before them to make for himself an everlasting name, 13 who led them through the depths? Like a horse in the desert, they did not stumble. 14 Like livestock that go down into the valley, the Spirit of the Lord gave them rest. So you led your people, to make for yourself a glorious name.”

When we are tempted, tried and afflicted and therefore feel it appropriate to criticize God, or become disobediently hostile towards Him, it is wise for us to then remember the days of old. To recall the oh so many times God has led, delivered, healed, encouraged, provided, sustained, disciplined, loved, cared, and forgiven us. May we repent of the sin of rebelliousness and remember the One, True God of graciousness.

Soli deo Gloria!

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