And Egypt, vainly and emptily they help. So I have called to this: Their strength is to sit still. Isaiah 30:7
To Sit Still – Welcome to God’s PAC – the divine Political Action Committee. Of course, His PAC is a bit different from the ones we have. The operative procedure of His PAC is a word that is found only four times in Isaiah. It is the verb shabbat. God’s political theory is shabbat – sitting still.
Isaiah reminds Israel that alliances with the superpowers of the world are useless. Egypt, Assyria, Babylon offer no protection. Protection is the exclusive provision of God Himself. And how is that protection procured? By shabbat. By rest. By sitting still in confident assurance that God will act for His people. “Keeping still is holiness in regard to the political attitude of God and His people.” Once again we find that God’s ways are backwards, upside-down and counter-intuitive. Once again we discover that God doesn’t do things the way men do things. Once again we are reminded that He is sovereign and we are not. Our pretensions and predilections to act are unfortunately indications of our unfaithfulness and lack of reliance. “Be still and know that I am YHWH,” is an instruction too easily forgotten.
The world demands action. From the Hebrew perspective, shabbat is action. It is the action of waiting on the Lord. Of course, the world rejects this attitude, calling it passive irresponsibility. We must do something! The Hebrew replies, “I am doing exactly what God requires. I am waiting, resting, being still in Him.”
If keeping still is holiness, then what is political frenzy? What is push and shove and get it done? What is “we can make it happen” thinking? Could it be that all this political chaos is unholiness? Could it be sin? A long time ago I wrote about the Hebrew view of accomplishment. I said that it was based on four simple things: STOP-WAIT-LISTEN-ACT. Shabbat is precisely this method. Be still. Stop. Be still. Wait. Be still. Listen. And then you will know what to do. Where there is no shabbat, there can only be chaos and sin.
Short and sweet. But the challenge is in the action: being still.
Topical Index: be still, shabbat, Isaiah 30:7
 Martin Buber, The Prophetic Faith, p. 136.