Isaiah 54:10 (NIV)
Though the mountains be shaken
and the hills be removed,
yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken
nor my covenant of peace be removed,”
says the Lord, who has compassion on you.
It takes a lot to remove a hill. Or to shake a mountain, for that matter.
In 2003 my family visited Nova Scotia, an Atlantic haven and one of Canada’s jewels. Nova Scotia is a province of islands with a main peninsula. The largest island is Cape Breton Island, separated from the inland by a very narrow and very deep straight, the Straight of Canso. Nearly 4,500 feet separates the two land masses at a depth of 213 feet, and the straight was once thought to be uncrossable by any other means than ferry. A cantilever bridge was proposed in the early 1900s, but it was deemed too difficult. The only option available was to fill the straight with rocks and create a dam to cross. To do that, a construction company formed a unique plan. To find the material to create the land bridge, the company decided to move mountains. Literally. Carving away at a hillside at Cape Porcupine on the mainland side of the straight, 10 million tons of rock and fill were slid into the straight, damming it for good. The causeway opened in 1954. Even today, if you look at the surrounding geography, you can see only half a hill remaining. It was a remarkable feat of engineering.
In the wisdom literature of the Old Testament, tough times are often painted in flowery and sometimes dramatic language. The sun being blotted out, the mountains shaking and, sometimes, burning up, and the hills disappearing. In reality, I think these descriptions are more fitting for the emotions we experience than what we see with our eyes. When the prophets prophesied, they used this language to make a point. In a way, they were doing what the Savior did in Matthew 5 when He said, “If your eye causes you to sin, gouge it out!” It was an exaggeration meant to teach a particular point. Here in Isaiah 54, the Lord uses the same figure of speech to point to his eternal love and promised peace. Even “though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed…” Even if. A worst case scenario. Even if all hell breaks loose and all earth shakes free, even then…
More than once I have felt like heaven and earth were loose and unreliable. Those beautiful Highlands were turning into Kansas farmland. The heather stopped blooming and the moors all dried up. It feels terrible! It’s tragedy! It’s tragic. But even then…
Two things are everlasting in the moment of crisis. God’s unfailing love (Hebrew: “hesed” meaning “loyal love” or “everlasting love”) and His promised peace. What can a soul on the rocks need more at the moment of crisis than love and peace? What more can a crying heart ask for than compassion? A big divine bear hug, if you allow me to put it that way. The Lord has compassion on the hurting — on the question seekers and the deep thinkers, the wounded and the wounder, the penitent and the petitioner.
God is speaking as a heavenly Father in Isaiah 54, as Abba (“Daddy”), and reminding His children that even though what they see is falling apart, what they don’t see is constant. And I believe that if they stop and accept it, they will feel it. Unconditional Love. Perfect Peace. The mountains may still be gone but it won’t matter any more because perfect love casts out all fear and peace keeps it away.
Rest in His peace.