Isaiah lived in changing, times of great uncertainty, times that were in many ways not unlike our own. With this chapter commences the great "woe" section of his prophecy (28.1; 29.1; 30.1; 31.1; 33.1). Ephraim, the northern kingdom, would soon fall, with Judah suffering from increasing weakness, and soon to be a mere pawn in the hands of the great powers.
Isaiah had to endure the sneering mockery of the godless. These arrogant men claimed that they were mature in their opinions and did not need to be tutored like children, asserting that the prophets message was nothing but babbling, as would in a later age be claimed of Paul in Athens (Acts 17.18). In a world of turmoil they had been offered the message that would bring them rest, but they had refused it (28.9-12).
But Isaiah understood the truth of the situation. These men had no sound foundation to their lives. They had made lies their refuge and had hidden under falsehood (v.15). These mockers were crying that the teaching of Isaiah was "precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little" (v.10). They were asserting that his teaching was nothing but a series of unconnected sayings that could not be brought together into a coherent message. But, on the contrary, this message was one of rest for the weary, and they would not hear it. Thus they continued on their pathway of ceaseless activity, enjoying no peace in a troubled world.
The attitude of these enemies of truth was similar to what is propounded around us today. The atheist mocks the existence of God as being a "delusion" under which mankind has laboured. The postmodernist proclaims that there is no such thing as absolute truth. The evolutionist dismisses arbitrarily anyone or any message which states that there is a Creator. Those with Christian beliefs are thought to be following nothing more than an incoherent babble.
Turning from those who scorned the Scriptures, Isaiah now addressed the godly. Unlike the others, they had a secure and sound foundation on which they had built their lives: "Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation" (v.16). When the judgment came the ungodly would have no foundation and would be swept away. The godly, however, would stand on a firm foundation that would not be moved. Peter confirms that this sure foundation is the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Pet 2.6).
How then do those who have built on Him live? Do they go through life pressured and torn by events? Are they blown about by the winds of adversity? Do they feel their lives at times pulled apart by trouble? It is true that they will have trouble and adversity, but they have a sure foundation underpinning them. As a result the prophet can cry that " he that believeth shall not make haste". Amidst the hectic clamour of opposing voices they can move with quiet dignity and confidence. They do not get caught up in the maelstrom of mans theories and opinions. They stand firmly on the Stone; they rest on Christ. They know the truth of what they believe; their trust is in the unfailing God whom they have come to know, their Bible has taught them, and their faith has sustained them. They are assured that the future is firmly under His control.
Thus today, even in the midst of the turmoil and stress that is seen internationally and personally in some of our lives, let us remember that the frantic anxieties and activities of the unbeliever need not mark us. We have a firm foundation and we can therefore know the peace, serenity and repose which come from relying on Him. Rather like Peter walking on the water, this peace is ours only when our faith does not waver. If we get our eyes off the Master faith falters and we will be buffeted. Let us keep our eyes on Him, resting by faith on the sure foundation, and when the world is driven to frenzy by worry and perplexity may they see the difference and note our dignified deportment and contended minds. Perhaps, through such a testimony, some will learn the secret, that "he that believeth shall not make haste".