On this day in 1727, Sir Isaac Newton died. Recognized as one of the most influential scientists of history, Newton devoted his vast intellect to astronomy, physics, mathematics and optics.
Newton’s contributions were dizzying. If you ever wanted to blame someone for inventing calculus, Newton’s your man. If you’ve attended a star-gazing party and squinted through a reflecting telescope, you are using Newton’s invention. Ever “ooh” and “ahh” over a dazzling rainbow in a shower-kissed sky? Newton was the first to prove that light was composed of color by filtering it through a prism. Newton was also a theologian who actually wrote more about God and the Bible than he did about science.
Perhaps Newton is best known for explaining universal gravitation and the three laws of motion. If you recall from junior high science class, the first Newtonian law is “an object in motion tends to stay in motion and an object at rest tends to stay at rest.” That is true only if an external force does not act upon the said object.
The ancient Hebrew people had been called to soar ever-upward toward God. However, the gravity of worshiping idols, practicing religious showmanship, and trusting in kings and alliances instead of the Lord often kept them grounded. Finally, as punishment, God allowed pagan nations to invade the Promised Land.
During Isaiah’s time, the people of God were under tremendous pressure. The prophet penned the above words when the brutal Assyrians were on a rampage, banging on the door of Jerusalem with their fearsome military machine. It would have been easy to fall back on fear and become paralyzed. But Isaiah moved ahead in prayer and praise, trusting the “arm of the Lord” for strength. The Assyrians quickly withdrew when an angel slew 185,000 of their men in the dead of night (2 Kings 19:35).
In life, there are many forces that can disrupt our trajectory toward God. Disappointment, doubts or disobedience can slam us to the ground and keep us there. However, we must never “rest” too long in our regrets or lick our wounds indefinitely. We must move forward in our faith, even if it’s a tiny step. The alternative is spiritual inertia.