“Fury is not in me: who would set the briers and thorns against me in battle? I would go through them, I would burn them together. Or let him take hold of my strength, that he may make peace with me; and he shall make peace with me.” Isaiah 27:4-5 (KJV).
I am writing this study amid the change from the old year to the new. The sands of time continue to sink, my friends, and I pray for all of you reading this that the Lord would grant abundant grace, mercy and peace for the coming year and that your life would be filled with the fruits of righteousness that can only come from our God. If any are yet unreconciled with God may this year—yea, this very day—be the time of reconciliation.
Our study in Isaiah continues on a grand and victorious note in chapter 27. Serious students of God’s Word should expect to wrinkle an eyebrow upon reading that God says, “Fury is not in me.” We know from other passages of Scripture that He affirms His anger and wrath expressed against sin. We recall the mighty flood that came upon the entire earth destroying everything and everyone, sparing only Noah and those with him on the ark. Sodom and Gomorrah is another example of the wrath of God. Those who say God’s wrath is an Old Testament concept should read John 3:36: “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.”
Every person who believes in Jesus has this promise from God: “Fury is not in me”
The difficulty is removed when we keep the word within the context of the passage in which it appears. When God extends grace and mercy to His people, as in Isaiah 27, He can truly say, ‘Fury is not in me.’ Or as rendered by the ESV, “I have no wrath.”
He appears to them as their mighty King, offering pardon and pleading with them to stop rebelling against Him, to stop provoking Him to anger through their wicked idolatry and sinful indulgence in the ways of the heathen, begging them to repent and return to Him. Anyone who sets themselves against this sovereign King is compared to briers and thorns that will instantly be consumed upon His passing through them. He doesn’t need to exert himself and He is not intimidated by great numbers. All the armies of the world can set themselves against Him and He will consume them like wildfire through dried sagebrush.
The God whom they have offended is offering pardon and peace. Rather than engage them in fatal combat, He offers them His own arm of strength to make peace with Himself. As He makes this gracious offer of reconciliation, He can truly say, “Fury is not in me”. Since Jesus the Son of God has completed the work of redemption upon the cross, God is saying to the world at large: “My wrath has been entirely spent on the one who sacrificed himself for sinful man.”
When Jesus cried out, “It is finished”, God could say, “Fury is not in me, I have no wrath”. Every person who believes in Jesus as his or her personal Saviour from sin has this promise from God: “Fury is not in me”. This phrase is echoed in other places in the New Testament, such as Romans 8:1: “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” The satisfaction (propitiation) of the work of Christ is clearly declared in Hebrews 10:11-14 too: “And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, He sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until His enemies should be made a footstool for His feet. For by a single offering He has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.”
If through the one offering Jesus has perfected for all time His saved ones, God can truly say to them, “Fury is not in me”.
We must try to put ourselves for a moment in the place of those who were carried away captives. How melancholy our condition is! Have we been so bold as to set ourselves against Jehovah? Do we not see that our captivity is justly deserved—yes, and far more than just captivity? We cannot set ourselves against Him and prosper. There is no place where we may escape His presence nor deceive His omniscience. In the night, we long for the morning, and when morning arrives, we cannot think of enduring another day and long for the shadows of the evening to return only to repeat the cycle over and over—not for 10, not for 20, not for 50 years, but for 70 long and tedious years.
We cannot set ourselves against [God] and prosper
Would it not be an incredible joy to hear the God whom we have offended so deeply say to us, “Fury is not in me, let Him take hold of my strength, that He may make peace with me”? Are we so foolish to ignore this gracious invitation and instead, in self-righteous pride, attempt to acquire favour with God through our own efforts, especially when He has already informed us that our righteousnesses are as filthy rags? If our good deeds qualify as filthy rags, what must our sins be like before the eyes of Him with whom we have to do?
Oh reader, if you hear His voice today say to you, “Fury is not in me”, take hold through faith the strong arm offered you in the person and work of Jesus Christ. Make peace today, while it is called today.
A weekly brief of new resources and Scripture-based insights from our editorial team.