The “Rat Race” of Life

I. INTRODUCTION

Many people are caught up in the “rat race” of life. We work harder and harder, trying to get ahead in life, but find that we always seem to be far behind what we want to be. The prophet Isaiah has something to say about this. Let us study it today.

II. BIBLE READING

Isaiah 30:8 Go now, write it on a tablet for them, inscribe it on a scroll, that for the days to come it may be an everlasting witness. 9 These are rebellious people, deceitful children, children unwilling to listen to the LORD’s instruction. 10  They say to the seers, “See no more visions!” and to the prophets, “Give us no more visions of what is right! Tell us pleasant things, prophesy illusions. 11 Leave this way, get off this path, and stop confronting us with the Holy One of Israel!” 12 Therefore, this is what the Holy One of Israel says: “Because you have rejected this message, relied on oppression and depended on deceit, 13 this sin will become for you like a high wall, cracked and bulging, that collapses suddenly, in an instant. 14 It will break in pieces like pottery, shattered so mercilessly that among its pieces not a fragment will be found for taking coals from a hearth or scooping water out of a cistern.” 15 This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says: “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it. 16 You said, ‘No, we will flee on horses.’ Therefore you will flee! You said, ‘We will ride off on swift horses.’ Therefore your pursuers will be swift! 17 A thousand will flee at the threat of one; at the threat of five you will all flee away, till you are left like a flagstaff on a mountaintop, like a banner on a hill.” 18 Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion. For the LORD is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him! 19 O people of Zion, who live in Jerusalem, you will weep no more. How gracious he will be when you cry for help! As soon as he hears, he will answer you. 20 Although the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, your teachers will be hidden no more; with your own eyes you will see them. 21 Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” 22 Then you will defile your idols overlaid with silver and your images covered with gold; you will throw them away like a menstrual cloth and say to them, “Away with you!” (NIV)

III. DISCUSSION

A. The Rebel (vv. 8-14)

  1. In w. 9-11, what was the condition of the people which brought the judgment of God upon them?
  2. What was the result? How complete was the shattering? (vv. 13, 14). Have you ever experienced & brokeness described above? Share experiences. Let us learn to look at the experience of brokeness not just as a punishment of God, but as a means through which God calls us back—the start of a process by which God makes and molds us to His likeness.

B. The “Rat Race” (vv. 15-17)

  1. What is the remedy to the above? (v. 15) What do you understand by “repentance”, “rest”, “quietness” and “trust”? In what way is each a solution to the problem presented above? REFLECTION: Have I repented of my sins? Have I learned to rest and be quiet before Him?
  2. Having been offered relief, what was the people’s response? (v.16a) What does it mean? What was the result, and what does it mean? (v. 16) What else did the people try, and what does it mean? (v. 16b) What was the result, and what does it mean? (v.16b) And what was the result? (v. 17)
  3. The above phenomenon is usually called the ‘Rat Race” in society. People nowadays run after money, position, fame, etc. all their lives, to find in the end that all their efforts are futile and meaningless. Example: A man starts work as a clerk. He is dissatisfied with his lowly position, so he aspires to be a supervisor. Eventually he is promoted, but then he wants to be a manager. He sacrifices everything (his own health, family, service to God) in order to climb the corporate ladder. At the top, he’s lonely and still dissatisfied. In the end he finds everything meaningless. Share experiences on the “Rat Race” of life.

C. God Calls Again (vv. 18-22)

  1. In spite of our insistent rebellious course, what is the attitude of our Lord as stated in v. 18? In v.18 it says ” He waits to show compassion on you”. What is He waiting for?
  2. What attribute (character) of God do we see in the above?
  3. Vv. 19-21 amplifies the thought in v. 18. What more do we learn about God in these verses? Concerning all these attributes of God that we mentioned, do you believe them to be true? Do you see them working in your life? Give examples on how God had been patient, guiding us clearly, etc.
  4. What is required of us in v.22. What are “idols” and “images” today? Give examples. Why do we need to defile them and throw them away? Give examples of how this is translated to our everyday life.
  5. REFLECTION: Am I still running the “Rat Race”? What do I intend to do about it now?

III. CONCLUSION

No matter how hard we try, we can never beat the “Rat Race” of life through our own efforts. It is only when we stop running; when we learn to be quiet before God and trust Him, that He can show compassion on us and walk intimately with us.

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