Category Archives: peace

Here I am

Therefore thus says the Lord God, “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a tested stone, A costly cornerstone for the foundation, firmly placed. He who believes in it will not be disturbed.” (Isa. 28:16 NASB)

As I was studying this passage, I saw something I had never seen before. The speaker is the Lord God. But there is an odd anomaly in the quote. The subject and the verb don’t seem to match.

The first word in Hebrew is “hineni”. It means, roughly, “Behold I”. It is used when one is summoned to announce his presence. Abraham says it to the Lord when the Lord calls him. Samuel says it to Eli, when he thought that Eli called him. It is often translated “Here am I”.

God also uses it for his own activity to announce his own presence. “Here am I.” He announces when he is coming in judgment, when he is making a covenant, when he is working redemption and righteousness and judgment in the earth.

Isaiah emphasized the “hineni” with the next word, which is a verb. But the verb is in the third person, when you are expecting the first person. “He is establishing”. It doesn’t fit the “Behold, I.” The Hebrew says, “Behold I he is establishing a foundation in Zion.”

Most translations and most commenters assume that there is a mistake in the verb, and that it should be pointed as a participle, translated, “Behold, I am the one who is laying a foundation”. Not too bad, except that I don’t like “fixing” the vowels in the Bible. And I think we are missing some poetic beauty. The meaning is there, but the emphasis is missing.

After Ephraim has finally rejected the Lord completely, mocking the prophet and dismissing the promised rest, ridiculing the promise of a redeemer, God could have easily dismissed his people entirely. He is scattering Israel in judgment. The Assyrian army will come and will carry the northern tribes away. They have made a covenant with death and therefore they will suffer the consequences of that unbelief.

But God will not cast off his people forever. He will gather together his church in a way that no one could ever see. Israel, Judah and all the nations together have become corrupt, unprofitable, cast away. They have all become “not my people”.

But God will lay a cornerstone, a stone of testing. True Israel, our Lord Jesus. He who believes in him will not be disturbed, restless, fearful – fleeing from one abyss to another abyss. But they will learn to rest.

How do we know? for God has announced his presence. Hineni. Here I am.

You have rejected me. But here I am.


I would translate the verse like this:

Therefore thus says the Lord God, “Here I am.”
He is laying in Zion a stone, a stone of testing, a costly cornerstone, a foundation firmly placed. He who believes will not be hasty.

Isaiah 28:16

It is hard to capture in the English. But it is the announcement of God’s mercy in Christ. Here I am.

He has not left us with the covenant of death that we have willingly made, but has announced his presence. Here am I.

The covenant of death was broken because God took upon himself the flesh of Abraham in the womb of the virgin Mary. He paid that covenant and suffered the penalty of the broken covenant, that we might live. 

He didn’t wait for us to find him, for we weren’t even looking. “There is none that seeketh me.” He didn’t wait for us to overcome the curse ourselves. He didn’t come to find the righteous. He came to seek and save that which was lost.

The sheep have gone astray. they have been scattered. They have run from the shepherd. they have rebelled. And then he announces his presence. Here I am.

What we have in this verse is the promise of Emmanuel. God with us. There is where we find our rest. If we believe the promise, we can finally lay down our weapons and rest, even in the presence of our enemies.

Here am I. Such beauty in one little word!


Filed under Gospel, peace, rest

Peace and Rest–thoughts on Psalm 19

Thoughts on reading Douglas Kelly’s Systematic theology and Psalm 19…

The heavens declare the glory of God. God is invisible. He is not accessible to our senses. Our eyes do not see him, for he is not made of matter. We do not hear him, for his passing does not ruffle the wind into sound waves.

And yet, God delights to reveal himself. How does God reveal himself to us?

“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” God’s invisible attributes are seen in creation (Romans 1). The colors of the world direct us to look to the one who created the colors. The stars in the sky direct us to the one who scattered them.

The earth is perfectly placed – during the day, the sun shines and the stars are hidden. The stars are greater than the sun, but they are far away. And yet, they are not too far away. They “come out” at night when the sun retreats. And God’s wisdom and beauty and love are seen. He scatters Pleiades and Orion and ursa minor, so the hearts of men will rejoice. They look to the stars and see the familiar, the stability of the universe, they find their bearings.

For what reason does Mars sparkle red, other than for the delight of men and women? For what reason does the eye see in color, other than the delight of the children of mankind? There is far more to creation than the mindless pursuit of sex and food and reproduction. The law of the jungle doesn’t explain the platypus and the rainbow and the snowflake.

The heavens declare the glory of God.

God is supremely beautiful, but our eyes only perceive matter. So God created the world to reflect his beauty and his goodness.

The most common colors in all of creation are green and blue, the colors of rest and peace. How different would the world of men be if the sky shone red instead of blue or if grass was white instead of green.

God created the world to be a home for humankind, for man to rest in peace and rejoice.

The devil hates rest and seeks to destroy it. Shame and fear and guilt pound red in the eyes, the voice of enemies shout in black and white – nobody loves you. You are fat and stupid and worthless. God can’t even stand you. Look at you. You’re a disgrace. Shame on you.

Children of God, this isn’t the voice of God. God calls in love – come to the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved. Find rest for your souls. God is a God of peace and desires that you find rest in Him. He who painted the earth in greens and blues also says, “Come unto me, and rest.” Cannot the one who put the stars in the sky to direct you north and south also guide you to the safe harbor across the Jordan of death? Does not the one who made the meadow know how to give peace and rest?

He leads me beside the still waters. He makes me to lie down in green pastures. He restores my soul.

The sky curves down and meets the earth. The sun descends into twilight. The horizon bursts into colors – blue and orange and purple and red. How beautiful it is when heaven meets the earth! And how much greater is the one who painted the sunset with the word of his mouth! He made the stars also! What a universe of wonder in such a few words!

How can the One who created the brook and the water-lilies be unable or unwilling to do us good?

Cease from warring against him. He became flesh in our Lord Jesus Christ. Immanuel. God with us. We could see him, hear him, watch him, hold him. They watched him eat and drink. They watched him sleep. And then he woke up and commanded the sea to be still. And there was peace.

This is the one who calls to you. Peace, little one. Be still. Your sins are forgiven. Your iniquities are pardoned. No one can harm you under my wings. Peace. Be still.


Filed under Gospel, Nature, peace

Maybe just a little more…

It was an exhausting day.  It wasn’t a bad day.  Just exhausting.

I washed the dust, sweat and grime of the day down the shower drain, put on pajamas and sat back in my lazy boy recliner.  I opened Biblical Theology and read until I could not keep my eyes open any longer.  Contentedly, I headed off to bed.

I climbed into my Sleep-number adjustable bed and settled down for the night.  That’s when the trouble started.

First, I sighed a deep relaxing sigh.  “I am as comfortable as I could be,” I said, relaxing into a light doze.

Then I said, “Maybe not quite.  There might be a small wrinkle right around where my knee is.”  No big deal.  I could ignore it.

No.  It grew larger and larger in my mind.  I knew that I would not be able to go to sleep on top of that huge mess that is wreaking havoc on my leg.  So I leaned forward and adjusted the wrinkle.  “Ahhhhh.”

Now my covers were messed up.  I had to arrange them again.  They were pressing down too hard on my foot.  That might cause me some pain in the morning.  So I kicked, trying to make a pocket for my feet.


Is that a crumb?  I think that there is a crumb in my bed.  How can I sleep with a crumb in my bed.  Where is it?  Where did it go?

Why is my pillow flat now?  I removed the crumb.  I fluffed the pillow.  I settled back down.

Now I’m hot and starting to sweat again.  I throw the covers off.

Now I’m cold. Why can’t the temperature be perfect?  Why is the crumb back?

I remove the imaginary crumb, fluff again.  Pull the covers back up.

Now there’s a wrinkle under my leg.

I never have this problem when I am camping.  I know that there is no way I am actually going to get comfortable, so I just go to sleep.

Eventually, I fluff and worry and toss and turn and fuss myself to sleep.  Other nights, I give up and get up before I wake my wife.

But the other night something came to me:

Isn’t this the heart of covetousness?

No matter what good gifts God gives us, no matter what we have, we always say to ourselves, “Do you know what I need?  Just a little more.  Then I will be content.”

If only I had a bigger truck, a bigger car, a better house.  Look at my neighbor’s house.  He sure is lucky.  If I had that house, then I would be happy.

Look at his wife.  Man, how’d he score a woman like that?  If I had his wife, then I’d be happy.  I wish my kids were like that guys kids.

This food doesn’t taste quite as good as it should.  This chair isn’t quite as comfortable as it could be. If I had one more gadget, a little more money, a little better friends.

If my preacher was a little more interesting, if my church was a little bit more attentive to my needs.

Then for sure I would be content.

This is the first thing Satan said to man,”Yea, hath God said you shall not eat of every tree of the garden?”

Is there really something that God didn’t let you have??  The nerve!

And so our sinful hearts are again revealed.  Covetous is the plaguing thought that you are not really getting everything that you are owed, that something is being held from you – something that you deserve. God owes you.  He really isn’t good.  He’s stingy and holding out on you.  Look at your neighbor; what’s he got that I don’t got?

Then we read what Paul writes.

11Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am,therewith to be content. 12I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. 13I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.  (Phil. 4:11-13).

It would help us to remember that Paul was in prison in Rome when he wrote this.  He learned to be content in every situation.  He understood that the problem was not in the goodness of God.  God’s goodness is infinite.  He is our almighty Father, able to give us all things necessary for body and soul, and willing also, being a faithful Father.

The problem is our sinful heart.  Covetousness makes us restless.  Discontent drives our grumbling and murmuring.  And the heart of it is idolatry.  We worship and serve the creature, rather than the creator.  We look to things for our comfort, placing our trust in money, gadgets, friends, things, and wrinkle free sheets.

Notice also that Paul says he has learned contentment with nothing as well as contentment with abundance.  Contentment with abundance is frequently the harder of the two.  When you have nothing, you have very low expectations from your possessions.  But when you abound, it is very simple to turn those possessions into idols, and seek from them that which they can never provide.

Augustine prayed, “Our hearts are restless until they rest in thee.”

My wife says, “Why don’t you just go to sleep, you weirdo.”

And I am again reminded that this earth is not our home.  We are commanded to set our affections on things above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God.

As long as our minds are on this earth, there is always one more wrinkle, one more crumb, one more aching joint.  We can really get ourselves into a dither over nothing.

I know that there are many with problems far greater than a wrinkled sheet.  I have my own things over which I could fret, some huge, some smaller.  When it comes to the great big things: betrayal, slander, abuse, chronic illness, death, and so on, we immediately look to Jesus, saying to us, “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.”

But we often don’t think of that when we get ourselves into a dither over wrinkled sheets.  But the wrinkled sheets expose our restless hearts every bit as much as the big things.  The things of the earth can never be your only comfort in life and in death.  They will never be a solid ground on which to place your trust.  But they can make you exhausted and restless, until you finally cry out to the Lord to cleanse you from your covetousness and teach you contentment.  This is what Paul means when he says that he can do all things through Christ who strengthens him.


Leave a comment

Filed under peace, rest, Uncategorized