woe to whoa

[Woe] to those who say, “Let God hurry,
let him hasten his work so we may see it.
Let it approach, let the plan of the Holy One of Israel come,
so we may know it.”    Isaiah 5:19


Isaiah 5 contains a whole string of woes. You know, like the ones Jesus pronounces in the gospels? (Matthew 23 is a good  example)

Now, nobody enjoys the “woes” or at least they shouldn’t. These are places where God has come to a point of saying enough is enough! Usually they deal with overly religious people who make their life an exercise in “see how holy I am” or about those who have snubbed their nose at God and said, “I’ll do it my way. I don’t care about you.” So typically I agree with what’s being said even if I don’t enjoy reading it. And typically I don’t feel like it’s hitting too close to home.

But then I read Isaiah 5 and the woes God pronounces there. For most of them I was in great shape. There is a woe about those who live just for getting drunk (I believe Isaiah calls them “heroes at drinking” and “champions at mixing drinks”) and there is a woe about bribery and injustice and one about calling evil good and good evil. There is a woe about building our own personal empires and one about being overly proud. But right in the middle of all of these woes is one about not being patient with God.

“Woe to those who say, ‘Let God hurry…’”



Can that be right? God is as fed up with people being impatient and “pushing” God to come through for them as he is with other people mentioned in these woes? The drunkards, the evil doers, the bribers…and the impatient?

Now I’m uncomfortable. Now I’m feeling the broken places in my own life more than staring at the brokenness in others. Now I don’t feel like reading anymore.

I thought about this for a while in that uncomfortable, inner silence that comes when we have stumbled upon painful truths that stick to our insides and demand to be dealt with. And I began to ask, why would God not want me to want him to hurry? Why wouldn’t he be delighted that I was excited and anxious for him to act?

And as I re-read the verse I began to see it.

Let God hurry…so we may see itso we may know it.


And isn’t that really why we usually want God to hurry it up? Because we feel lost, unsure, out of control. We want what we want and we want it now!

And usually we believe it’s for the best. We believe it‘s what God would want. But the motivating factor for us is more that we just don’t like the fear of not knowing. We aren’t comfortable with surrendering and trusting God to guide at his pace and in his time.

And so we encourage God, implore him, beg him, and on and on. Anything to get him to hurry it up! And here in Isaiah 5:19 God gives us the woe to those who don’t understand whoa!

Don’t miss the fact that “whoa” is typically a command given to pack animals to tell them to slow down. Pack animals…you know, the stubborn, not too bright ones?

So God is saying to us, “WHOA! Slow down.”

The difficulty in that is that it means trusting him to set the pace, to decide on the direction and to control when we get there.

Am I willing to slow down, to not rush on ahead, to stop trying to get God to pick up the pace? To be content with where I am today and the waiting that he is requiring?





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