“Indeed, the bed is too short to stretch out on, and its cover too small to wrap up in.”
Isaiah 28:20 (HCSB)
What in the world is Isaiah talking about?
A bed is a place of comfort. It is the place where we lie down and rest. We wrap ourselves in a warm, cozy blanket and sleep. It takes us back to the womb.
As a boy I had the same routine on Saturday mornings. I’d wake up early, go into the living room and turn on TV. Then I’d roll myself up in a warm blanket—like a caterpillar in a cocoon—and watch cartoons.
I still like to wrap up in a warm blanket. I insist that every part of my body from my toes to my neck to be covered. Don’t give me a short blanket! I’ll rip it trying to make it stretch! And don’t give me a short bed either. I can’t stand for my feet to hang off the end of the bed. My feet have to be warm or I can’t sleep!
Isaiah here is talking about judgment and false comfort. In verse 21 Isaiah refers to God’s “strange work” and His “disturbing task.” What is God’s strange work?
It is His judgment. It seems “strange”—so out of character—for a God of love to also be a God of wrath. But this is the truth about God. Jesus said, “I will say to you, ‘Depart from Me into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his demons’” (Matthew 25:41).
Please make no mistake: God will perform the “disturbing task” of banishing into the Lake of Fire those who mock His judgment. We can try to deny this truth, but we cannot avoid it.
The idea of divine judgment makes us shiver. It makes us break out in cold chills. So we give ourselves false comfort by wrapping ourselves in lies. We fight the chill by covering ourselves in deception. We say things like: “A God of love would never send anyone to hell.”
But that bed is too short!
We comfort ourselves with the lie that we are “good enough” to pass God’s inspection.
But that cover is too small!
The reasonable question is: “How good do I have to be?” And the only answer that matters is the one that God Himself provides: “I will make justice the measuring line and righteousness the mason’s level” (verse 17). You see, God has a standard… and that standard is perfection. The truth is that, judged by God’s measuring line, we all come up short. Furthermore, God’s own righteousness is the “mason’s level.” The word righteousness means, “to be as good as God.” None of us is on the level! We’re all off kilter. Our bed is too short, and our blanket is too small!
But the good news is that God has provided “a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation” (verse 16). Jesus is that stone! He is everything we could not be. He measured up in every way. His life was on God’s level. Then He voluntarily laid that perfectly level life down as a sacrifice for us. Now He offers us salvation as a free gift when we place our trust in Him.
So God offers us a bed that is long enough and a blanket that is large enough. And... ah... what a cozy place to lie down!