Passage: Isaiah 26:1-9, 16-20

Speaker: Mitch Kim

Series: Coming Home – A Journey Through Exodus

Palm Sunday In A Lockdown

            Isaiah 26:20 feels like God’s invitation to a shelter-in-place: “Come, my people, enter your chambers, and shut your doors behind you; hide yourselves for a little while until the fury has passed by.” My daughter read this recently in her quiet time and started cracking up. How do you endure when the fury of a pandemic is passing by outside and all you can do is hide? This Sunday we celebrate Palm Sunday. On Palm Sunday Jesus rides into Jerusalem on a donkey as the crowd celebrates his power to save. They wave palm branches, celebrating the victory of their King who has come to bring refuge and salvation. Isaiah 26 helps us find shelter and refuge in the LORD our God as we enter his peace, yearn for his presence, and cry out for his deliverance. 

            First we must enter his peace (Isa 26:1–6). While the LORD is an everlasting rock who rules over a strong city (26:1, 4), the righteous enter and find peace only by faith (26:2–3). We can enter the strong city of God’s presence only as we trust in his promise: “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you” (26:3). While the fury of a pandemic rages around us, we do not find our peace in the hope of a vaccine or the effectiveness of our social distancing or the stability of our income; we find peace by keeping our minds stayed on him, trusting in Him forever as our everlasting rock (26:4) regardless of the state of the pandemic or income. Church, enter his peace. The cure to the anxiety in your heart is not more information or protection; the cure to your anxiety is to stay your mind on Him.

            As we enter HIs peace, we yearn for HIs presence (Isa 26:7–9). When we cannot go out to fix the world then we are invited to go deep into God’s presence. Sometimes God puts us into a holding pattern, waiting for the breakthrough that we long for. And in the place of our frustration, “we wait for you; your name and remembrance are the desire of our soul” (26:5). The breakthrough that we need is not simply a release from this lockdown; what our souls need is a breakthrough into more of His presence. Just as David was trained in the fields watching sheep to be king of Israel because he knew God’s presence and protection, so God often trains us in locked down situations to know more deeply His presence and protection.

            Yet even as we yearn for His presence, we cry out for His deliverance (26:16–19). These prayers don’t sound very hopeful. Whispered prayers, women writhing in pregnancies who give birth to wind: these verses are the very expression of futility. And often God’s greatest work begins in the places of our feelings of greatest futility. We utterly and totally feel like we are wasting our time, yet we cry out for His deliverance. These cries lead to one of the greatest confessions of hope and faith in the Old Testament in the resurrection (26:19).

            So what?  What should we do in this lockdown, when we enter our chambers, shut our doors and hide ourselves for a little while until this pandemic fury passes us by? Let us enter his peace, yearn for his presence, and cry out for His deliverance. I believe that God wants to do a powerful work in the world through this pandemic — and that work begins in us. Let us draw near to God. Together.