August 17: Anxiety and the Wilderness
Isaiah 35:1–37:13; Luke 12:22–59*; Job 8:11–22
Anxiety has a way of ruling over us. Although many of our concerns are legitimate—like having money to pay the rent and buy food—some of them are nonsensical. We envision future catastrophes and spend our days worrying about what might never happen, creating an emotional wilderness for ourselves.
Anxiety isn’t new. The prophet Isaiah addresses the problem: “Wilderness and dry land shall be glad, and desert shall rejoice and blossom like the crocus.… Say to those who are hasty of heart, ‘Be strong; you must not fear! Look! your God will come with vengeance, with divine retribution. He is the one who will come and save you’ ” (Isa 35:1, 4).
Isaiah realizes that there is a time and season for everything. He proclaims that God will bring the people out of the wilderness (their exile in Babylon) and back into their land. There is an answer to the anxiety, pain and worry that they feel about the future. His words ring with prophetic certainty because he knows them to be true—they are Yahweh’s words.
Jesus also addresses anxiety when He says to His disciples, “For this reason I tell you, do not be anxious for your life, what you will eat, or for your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens, that they neither sow nor reap; to them there is neither storeroom nor barn, and God feeds them. How much more are you worth than the birds?” (Luke 12:22–24).
Why must we worry? Why must we strive over things we cannot change? Ultimately, everything in life is a matter of depending on God.
What anxieties can you hand over to God today?
JOHN D. BARRY
- The desert and the wilderness shall rejoice, and the waste ground shall be glad and flourish as the rose. It shall flourish abundantly, and shall greatly rejoice also and joy: the glory of Lebanon shall be given unto it: the beauty of Carmel, and of Sharon, they shall see the glory of the Lord, and the excellence of our God. Strengthen the weak hands, and comfort and feeble knees. Say unto them that are fearful, Be you strong, fear not: behold, your God cometh with vengeance: even God with a recompense, he will come and save you. Then shall the eyes of the blind be lightened, and the ears of the deaf be opened. Then shall the same man leap as an hart, and the dumb man’s tongue shall sing: for in the wilderness shall waters break out, and rivers in the desert. And the dry ground shall be a path and a way, and the way shall be called holy: the polluted shall not pass by it: for he shall be with them, and walk in the way and the fools shall not err. There shall be lion, or noisome beasts shall ascend by it, neither shall they be found there, that the redeemed may walk. Therefore the redeemed of the Lord shall return and come to Zion with praise: and everlasting joy shall be upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and mourning shall flee away. Now in the fourteenth years of King Hazekiah, Sennacherib King of Assyria came up against all the strong cities of Judah, and took them. And the King of Assyria sent Rabshakeh from Lachish toward Jerusalem unto king Hezekiah, with a great host, and he stood by the conduit of the upper pool in the path of the fuller’s field. Then came forth unto Eliakim the son so Hilkiah the steward of the house, and Shebna the chancellor, and Joah the son of Asaph the recorder. And Rabshakeh said unto them, Tell you Hezekiah, I pray you, Thus saith the great king, the King of Assyria, What confidence is this, wherein thou trusted? I say, Surely I have eloquence, but counsel and strength are for the war: on whom then dost thou trust, that thou rebellest against me? Lo, thou trustest in this broken staff of reed, on Egypt, whereupon if a man lean, it will go into his hand, and pierce it: so is Pharaoh King of Egypt unto all that trust in him. But if thou say unto me, We trust in the Lord our God, is not that he, whose high places and whose altars Hezekiah took down, and said to Judah and to Jerusalem, Ye shall worship before this altar? Now therefore give hostages to my Lord the king of Assyria, and I will give thee two thousand horses, if thou be able on thy part to set riders upon them. For how canst thou despise any captain of the least of my lord’s servants? and put thy trust on Egypt for chariots and for horsemen? And am I now come up without the Lord to this land to destroy it? The Lord said unto me, Go up against this land and destroy it. Then said Eliakim, and Shebna and Joah unto Rabshakeh, Speak, I pray thee, to thy servants in the Aramite’s language (for we understand it) and talk not with us in the Jews’ tongue, in the audience of the people that are on the wall. Then said Rabshakeh, Hath my master sent me to thy master, and to thee, to speak these words, and not to the men that sit on the wall? that they may eat their own thing, and drink their own piss with you? So Rabshakeh stood, and cried with a loud voice in the Jews’ language, and said, Hear the words of the great King, of the King of Assyria. Thus saith the king, Let not Hezekiah deceive you: for the shall not be able to deliver you. Neither let Hezekiah make you to trust in the Lord, saying, The Lord will surely deliver us: this city shall not be given over into the hand of the king of Assyria, Heaken not to Hezekiah: for thus saith the king of Assyria, Make appointment with me, and come out to me, that every man may eat of his own vine, and every man of his own fig tree, and drink every man the water of his own well, Till I come and bring you to a land like your own land, even a land of wheat and wine, a land of bread and vineyards, Lest Hezekiah deceive you, saying, The Lord will deliver us. Hath any of the gods of the nations delivered his land out of the hand of the king of Assyria? Where is the god of Hamath, and of Arpad? where is the god of Sepharvaim? or how have they delivered Samaria out of my hand? Who is he among all the gods of these lands, that hath delivered their country out of mine hand, that the Lord should deliver Jerusalem out of mine hand? Then they kept silence, and answered him not a word: for the king’s commandment was, saying, Answer him not. Then came Eliakim the son of Hilkiah the steward of the house, and Shebna the chancellor, and Joah the son of Asaph the recorder, unto Hezekiah with rent clothes, and told him the words of Rabshakeh. And when the King Hezekiah heard it, he rent his clothes, and put on sackcloth and came into the house of the Lord. And he sent Eliakim the steward of the house, and Shebna the chancellor, with the Elders of the Priests, clothed in sackcloth unto Isaiah the Prophet the son of Amoz. And he said unto him, Thus saith Hezekiah, This day is a day of tribulation and of rebuke and blasphemy: for the children are come to the birth, and there is no strength to bring forth. If so be the Lord thy God hath heard the words of Rabhakeh, whom the King of Assyria his master hath sent to rail on the living God, and to reproach him with words, which the Lord thy God hath heard, then lift thou up thy prayer for the remnant that are left. So the servants of the King Hezekiah came to Isaiah. And Isaiah said unto them, Thus say unto your master, Thus saith the Lord, Be not afraid of the words that thou hast heard, wherewith the servants of the King of Assyria have blasphemed me. Behold, I will send a blast upon him, and he shall hear a noise, and return to his own land, and I will cause him to fall by the sword in his own land. So Rabshakeh returned, and found the King of Ethiopia, Behold, he is come out to fight against thee: and when he heard it, he sent other messengers to Hezekiah, saying, Thus shall ye speak to Hezekiah King of Judah, saying, Let not thy God deceive thee, in whom thou trustest, saying, Jerusalem shall not be given into the hand of the King of Assyria. Behold, thou hast heard what the Kings of Assyria have done to all lands in destroying them, and shalt thou be delivered? Have the gods of the nations delivered them, which my fathers have destroyed? as Gozan, and Haran, and Rezeph, and the children of Eden, which were at Telassar? Where is the king of Hamath, and the King of Arpad, and the King of the city of Sepharvaim, Hens, and Ivah? Isaiah 35:1–37:13
- Philip came and told Andrew: and again Andrew and Philip told Jesus. And Jesus answered them, saying, The hour is come, that the Son of man must be glorified. Verily, verily I say unto you, Except the wheat corn fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if die, it bringeth forth much fruit. Now is my soul troubled: and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour: but therefore came I unto this hour. Father, glorify thy Name, Then came there a voice from heaven, saying, I have glorified it, and will glorify it again. Then said the people that stood by, and heard, that it was a thunder: others said, An Angel spake to him. Jesus answered, and said, This voice came not because of me, but for your sakes. Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out. And I, if I were lift up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. Now this said he, signifying what death he should die. The people answered him, We have heard out of the Law, that that Christ bideth forever: and how sayest thou, that that Son of man must be lift up? Who is that Son of man? Then Jesus said unto them, Yet a little while is the light with you: walk while ye have that light, lest the darkness come upon you: for he that walketh in the dark, knoweth not whither he goeth. While ye have that light, believe in that light, that ye may be the children of the light. These things spake Jesus, and departed, and hid himself from them. And though he had done so many miracles before them, yet believed they not in him, That the saying of Isaiah the Prophet might be fulfilled, that he said, Lord, who believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed? Therefore could they not believe, because that Isaiah saith again, He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart, that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. These things said Isaiah when he saw his glory, and spake of him. Nevertheless, even among the chief rulers, many believed in him: but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be cast out of the Synagogue. For they loved the praise of men, more than the praise of God. And Jesus cried, and said, He that believeth in me, believeth not in me, but in him that sent me. And he that seeth me, seeth him that sent me. I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth in me, should not abide in darkness. And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. He that refuseth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, it shall judge him in the last day. For I have not spoken of myself: but the father which sent me, he gave me a commandment what I should say, and what I should speak. And I know that his commandment is life everlasting: the things thereof that I speak, I speak them so as Father said unto me. Luke 12:22–59 *EZC Geneva Lk 12 has total of 50 verses
- Can a rush grow without mire? or can the grass grow without water? Though it were in green and not cut down, yet shall it whither before any other herb. So are the paths of all that forget God, and the hypocrite’s hope shall perish. His confidence also shall be cut off, and his trust shall be as the house of a spider. He shall lean upon his house, but it shall not stand: he shall hold him fast by it, yet shall it not endure. The tree is green before the Sun, and the branches spread over the garden thereof. If any pick it from his place, and it deny, saying, I have not seen thee, Behold, it will rejoice by this means, that it may grow in another mold. Behold, God will not cast away an upright man, neither will he take the wicked by the hand, Till he have filled thy mouth with laughter, and thy lips with joy. They that hate thee, shall be clothed with shame, and the dwelling of the wicked shall not remain. Job 8:11–22