On the Heights – Isaiah 33:16

“He will dwell on the heights;
his place of defense will be the fortresses of rocks;
his bread will be given him; his water will be sure.”

Isaiah 33:16

This verse has pulled at my heart for quite some time. Every time I read it, I am drawn to the beautiful truths it holds. It is such a wonderful picture of security and hope for the one who chooses to walk righteously, determining to hold fast to their God and trust Him wholly. I want to take a few moments and try to grasp at least a portion of what this verse speaks into our lives.

“He will dwell on the heights.” Away from fear. Away from all that seeks to overwhelm and destroy us. When we choose to trust God enough to follow Him even when we don’t understand His leading, He will lift us up to dwell with Him. So our life is no longer characterized by anxiety and endless toil. It is instead characterized by hope, joy, and peace. And unlike what the world offers, the hope and joy and peace God promises do not shift and sway with circumstances. They run deep and remain constant. Because they stem from the very root of all delight and peace. Jesus calls us to abide in Him, to abide in His love and follow His commands, so that His joy will be in us and our joy will be full (John 15:9-11). Psalm 16:11 tells us that in the presence of God we find fullness of joy. When we choose to walk through this life with Christ, we live each moment in His presence and know joy to its fullest extent. We are dwelling on the heights, not because our life is perfect and everything goes according to our plans, but because abundant, exuberant life is ours when we trust God enough to walk each step with Him.

“His place of defense will be the fortresses of rocks.” Could there be a stronger picture here? Rocks are his fortress. Not a building with questionable integrity and obvious weak points. The New American Standard Version translates the phrase as “His refuge will be the impregnable rock.” Impregnable means that no one can capture or break into it. It is impossible to overcome or conquer this fortress. The God who created all things, the One who forms light and creates darkness (Isaiah 45:7), who has “created the smith who blows the fire of coals and produces a weapon for its purpose” and who declares that “no weapon that is fashioned against you shall succeed” (Isaiah 54:16-17), He is the One who surrounds you as the impregnable Rock. Your place of defense is such that no enemy can penetrate it. The God of Heaven is on your side, watching over you, keeping you, and “He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber” (Psalm 121:3).

“His bread will be given him; his water will be sure.” There is no room left for doubt or question in this statement. Your God will not fail to provide for you. He will not overlook or forget your needs. Physically, spiritually, emotionally—God is aware of every need you have, and He is acting right now to provide for each one. Because He is that great and He loves you that steadfastly. Our God is amazingly faithful, and He delights to show Himself strong for His children. When we choose to put our trust and hope in Him, when we choose to believe that He will accomplish His purposes for us and will fulfill His every promise to us, He delights to prove His faithfulness. Because this brings Him great glory. The world sees us holding fast regardless of how our circumstances look, and then they see God’s grace poured out in our lives. And this draws people to the cross. They see that our God is real. They see that this matters. They see that this is our life and our hope, and that this truth will never let us down.

So let us hold fast. Let us believe even in the face of darkness and impossible circumstances. Our God is here, and He wants us to give Him the opportunity to show how unbelievably faithful He is. He is a God of infinite power and glory, and He wants to pour this out into our lives so the world can see His greatness. And we will then experience the wonder promised in Isaiah 33:17, “Your eyes will behold the king in his beauty; they will see a land that stretches afar” (Isaiah 33:17). “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9).

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