Look for God to arise and do great work in our days. But beware, we will get more than we bargained for when He does.
By Mark D. Harris
Believers in the Living God since the Exodus have prayed that God would arise, smite evil, and deliver them from their troubles. In His patience, the Lord delays His judgement, giving each man every opportunity to believe. But eventually, He brings to people what they deserve: disaster to the wicked and blessings to the righteous. Asking God to arise is a dangerous business. We may discover, as Habakkuk did, that God’s plan is neither what we like nor what we want. We will also discover, as Isaiah did, that we are not as righteous as we think we are. When God arises, though our salvation is sure, we will encounter pain and trouble, just like those we oppose.
Do you ever wish that God would arise and oppose evil? Do you wish you could see it? How do we know that God will arise? How do we know that the wicked will be punished? Why does it take so long? This article will examine Isaiah 33:1-17 to discover what happens, and what Christians must do, when God arises.
Who Sees God Arise?
V1 – God is moving constantly, but few people, even those who call on His name, see it. Isaiah knew God – His justice and His power. Isaiah also knew Assyria – their treachery and their power. Hebrews and Assyrians saw the mighty Assyrian army encircling Jerusalem and thought only of their weakness or strength. Isaiah looked for a mighty work of the Lord.
Tyrants stay in power by being ruthless. They are treacherous to those around them. When they stop being ruthless, being bloody, and betraying those around, they find themselves on the receiving end.
“Dictators Ride to and fro Upon Tigers from Which They Dare Not Dismount.” Winston Churchill
One reason that David did not slay King Saul is that David knew that assassinating his predecessor would cost him legitimacy and make it more likely for him to be assassinated by someone else. The truth is that people who are treacherous, wicked, and selfish carry within them the seeds of their own destruction. They may appear to live lives of wealth and ease, but destruction comes upon them like a flood. This outcome is as inevitable as the sun rising in the morning.
Assyria was an empire ruled by a tyrant. But as with all tyrants, he would not survive when God arose.
VV 2-6 – Isaiah asked the Lord to deliver them. He believed in God, believed that God would hear and answer his prayer, and lived as such. In these terrifying times, Isaiah asked for:
- Grace – the undeserved goodwill of the Almighty, manifested in revealing Himself to them.
- Strength – the desire and ability to do His will
- Courage – sufficient knowledge of God to see each situation as God sees it and act accordingly.
Isaiah asks for these gifts from God, and then begins to praise God. He therefore does the only thing that can give him what he desires.
VV 7-9 – Judah was desperate. Sennacherib had refused Hezekiah’s last peace entreaty, the army was weak, and the people were starving from the two-year siege. Every person had exhausted every means of survival, both personal and national. The end of Jerusalem was near. If salvation were to come, it had to be a miracle.
What does God do?
V10 – God announces to everyone that though He is always active, His activity will be clearer now. God arises for His glory, which always works to the betterment of those who are faithful to Him and the destruction of His enemies, which may include His own rebellious people.
VV 11-12 – The enemies of the Lord have made evil plans and executed them, expecting to achieve their goals. These plans and works, however, will turn out to be chaff and stubble. They will fail, and those who made them will be destroyed by their own works.
Thorns harm people and animals who touch them but are themselves destroyed by fire. We often harm others with our words and actions, but God’s all-knowing and all-consuming power will find us out. He will then give us what we deserve.
VV 13-14a – God is patient, and though we like it when He is patient with us, we don’t like it when He is patient with our enemies. The Lord commands His enemies to acknowledge Him. They are terrified, but still unrepentant. If they would only repent, He would forgive.
How can we stand when God arises?
V14 – When God arises, He judges and punishes all sinners – not just the enemies of His people. No one can stand against Him – all will be destroyed.
V15 – Relational rightness
- Walk in righteousness
- Speak sincerely
- Reject unjust gain
- Keep your hands too busy to hold a bribe
- Avoid hearing about violence
- Avoid filling your mind with thoughts of evil
VV 16-17 – Reward for the faithful
- They will dwell in the high places of beauty and safety
- They will have a refuge in times of struggle and trial
- They will be given the necessities of life
- Their eyes will see God.
- They will see their eternal reward.
Conclusion – When God Arises
Our nation and our world are fraught with troubles. The Law of God as written in the Bible is deliberately misinterpreted, disobeyed, and ignored. Leaders call evil good and good evil. A few people have more money than they could ever spend, and many people have less than they need. Accusations, true and false, drive men apart from women, black apart from white, young apart from old, and rich apart from poor. We are more isolated now than at any time in history. Nonbelievers fret, believers pray, and God works. He is arising, but what will we do?