What is the “world” within scripture? It could be our physical world, but it also refers to a sinful nature, darkness, and ultimately things that lead us away from God. 1 John 2:15-16 says it this way
15 Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. 16 For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world.
Do you find yourself loving anything of the “world”?
Isaiah 48:12-22 addresses this very topic of choosing to listen and obey God above loving and chasing after what this “world” offers.
12 “Listen to me, Jacob,
Israel, whom I have called:
I am he;
I am the first and I am the last.
13 My own hand laid the foundations of the earth,
and my right hand spread out the heavens;
when I summon them,
they all stand up together.
14 “Come together, all of you, and listen:
Which of the idols has foretold these things?
The Lord’s chosen ally
will carry out his purpose against Babylon;
his arm will be against the Babylonians.
15 I, even I, have spoken;
yes, I have called him.
I will bring him,
and he will succeed in his mission.
16 “Come near me and listen to this:
“From the first announcement I have not spoken in secret;
at the time it happens, I am there.”
And now the Sovereign Lord has sent me,
endowed with his Spirit.
17 This is what the Lord says—
your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel:
“I am the Lord your God,
who teaches you what is best for you,
who directs you in the way you should go.
18 If only you had paid attention to my commands,
your peace would have been like a river,
your well-being like the waves of the sea.
19 Your descendants would have been like the sand,
your children like its numberless grains;
their name would never be blotted out
nor destroyed from before me.”
20 Leave Babylon,
flee from the Babylonians!
Announce this with shouts of joy
and proclaim it.
Send it out to the ends of the earth;
say, “The Lord has redeemed his servant Jacob.”
21 They did not thirst when he led them through the deserts;
he made water flow for them from the rock;
he split the rock
and water gushed out.
22 “There is no peace,” says the Lord, “for the wicked.”
God, whose name is I AM, the First and the Last (12; Rev. 1:17), the Creator of everything, calls his people to listen. God qualifies who he is by describing what He has done through his might, strength, and ability. No idol could announce in advance how God would save his people—in this case through Cyrus, who would conquer Babylon (14,15). Now God’s servant, anointed with his Spirit, has been sent with an even greater mission (16b).
The question is this: will God’s people be willing to listen to his voice?
How are we able to hear God’s voice?
When is the last time you obeyed God’s voice?
The Lord’s heart for them, and for us, is to bless us. He teaches us what is good for us and directs us along the right way. He wants us to experience peace like a river, well-being like the depths of the ocean (18) and lasting blessing on our families (19). But will we pay attention to his commands (18a)?
At that time God’s people were called to leave Babylon. Babylon is a picture of, and represents, the world. The Israelites were instructed to trust in the Lord to bring them safely home through the desert (20,21).
We too are called not to love the world but to do the will of God in 1 John 2:15–17 which says 1 John 2:15 Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you.
What might that mean for you today?
Meditate and pray about ways that perhaps you have loved the things of this world and then obey God’s word and what He has spoken to you. If we would listen to Him, verse 18 and 19 of Isaiah 48 will certainly come to fruition in our lives.