Monday, April 6, 2015

Survivors of God’s Judgment

Isaiah 33:1-24

“Woe to thee that spoilest, and thou wast not spoiled; and dealest treacherously, and they dealt not treacherously with thee! when thou shalt cease to spoil, thou shalt be spoiled; and when thou shalt make an end to deal treacherously, they shall deal treacherously with thee.” (Isaiah 33:1)

Throughout history, groups have raided their neighbors and used the trust of others to take advantage of them, only stopping as they got powerful to discover that it was causing problems and limiting their own society.    As they attempt to outlaw raiding their victims lose their fear of them and begin to retaliate, gaining power themselves and doing the same things to them they once did to others.  It is just the other side of the Golden rule of doing to others as you want them to do to you.  By taking advantage of others, one places his approval on them doing the same to himself.

“O LORD, be gracious unto us; we have waited for thee: be thou their arm every morning, our salvation also in the time of trouble.  At the noise of the tumult the people fled; at the lifting up of thyself the nations were scattered.  And your spoil shall be gathered like the gathering of the caterpillar: as the running to and fro of locusts shall he run upon them.   The LORD is exalted; for he dwelleth on high: he hath filled Zion with judgment and righteousness.  And wisdom and knowledge shall be the stability of thy times, and strength of salvation: the fear of the LORD is his treasure.” (Isaiah 33:2-6)

Isaiah prays that God would be gracious to Judah, not giving her the punishment she deserves.  He recognizes even world powers flee when god intervenes and that his efforts to destroy are as hard to stop as an infestation of caterpillars or locusts.   God is the almighty, who has protected and preserved Jerusalem.  Their stability as a nation for over a thousand years was the result of a knowledge of what he required if he were to protect them.  Their respect and obedience is what God values most.

“Behold, their valiant ones shall cry without: the ambassadors of peace shall weep bitterly.  The highways lie waste, the wayfaring man ceaseth: he hath broken the covenant, he hath despised the cities, he regardeth no man.  The earth mourneth and languisheth: Lebanon is ashamed and hewn down: Sharon is like a wilderness; and Bashan and Carmel shake off their fruits.” (Isaiah 33:7-9)

Because of their rejection of God, God has refused to perform his part of the covenant.  As a result, Judah and Israel’s attempts to negotiate peace have failed.  Their soldiers have no hope of victory, the ambassadors give up on their negotiations and people are afraid to leave the protection of their homes, even to try to conduct business.  God is no longer protecting the people and the entire eart suffers as a result.  Even other countries are affected by the loss of God’s protection.  Lebanon had largely been left as a buffer state between Israel and other countries, but as Israel lost power there was no longer any need for a buffer.  Areas of Israel that had always been save were raided and destroyed. 

“Now will I rise, saith the LORD; now will I be exalted; now will I lift up myself.  Ye shall conceive chaff, ye shall bring forth stubble: your breath, as fire, shall devour you.  And the people shall be as the burnings of lime: as thorns cut up shall they be burned in the fire.  Hear, ye that are far off, what I have done; and, ye that are near, acknowledge my might.  The sinners in Zion are afraid; fearfulness hath surprised the hypocrites. Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings?” (Isaiah 33:10-14)

God is going to get the glory and respect he deserves.  The people’s efforts will produce worthless results, like grain crops that never got pollinated or drought or disease prevented from reaching maturity.  It would be like their own breath set everything they touched on fire.  The people would be dried up and crumble like lime or thorns in a fire.  People everywhere would hear what God had done and was doing and the people in Jerusalem who thought they were protected from such things would be upset, wondering who could survive what was happening.  God wastes no time answering the question.

 “He that walketh righteously, and speaketh uprightly; he that despiseth the gain of oppressions, that shaketh his hands from holding of bribes, that stoppeth his ears from hearing of blood, and shutteth his eyes from seeing evil; He shall dwell on high: his place of defence shall be the munitions of rocks: bread shall be given him; his waters shall be sure.  Thine eyes shall see the king in his beauty: they shall behold the land that is very far off.  Thine heart shall meditate terror. Where is the scribe? where is the receiver? where is he that counted the towers?  Thou shalt not see a fierce people, a people of a deeper speech than thou canst perceive; of a stammering tongue, that thou canst not understand.” Isaiah 33:15-19)

Those who survive will be those who have lived in accordance with God’s law, telling the truth.  They are the ones who have refused to enrich themselves by taking advantage of other people, that refused to take or give bribes or compromise their standards for profit, and that refused to overlook murders or other wicked behavior.  They will experience the blessings of God, protected by their surroundings with adequate food and water in abundance.  They will see the Lord in his glory as king of Kings and the land he has promised.

Terror will be an abstract idea to these people because they have never experienced it.  Because there is a strict attitude of doing what is right, there will be no need for lawyers or receiving clerks or accountants to be sure they are not getting ripped off.  There will be no fear of attack or discrimination or being taken advantage of because of a language they can’t understand. 

“Look upon Zion, the city of our solemnities: thine eyes shall see Jerusalem a quiet habitation, a tabernacle that shall not be taken down; not one of the stakes thereof shall ever be removed, neither shall any of the cords thereof be broken.  But there the glorious LORD will be unto us a place of broad rivers and streams; wherein shall go no galley with oars, neither shall gallant ship pass thereby.  For the LORD is our judge, the LORD is our lawgiver, the LORD is our king; he will save us.  Thy tacklings are loosed; they could not well strengthen their mast, they could not spread the sail: then is the prey of a great spoil divided; the lame take the prey.  And the inhabitant shall not say, I am sick: the people that dwell therein shall be forgiven their iniquity.” (Isaiah 33:20-24)

In that day Jerusalem will be a place of quietness, no longer fearing destruction or even an attack.  They will be able to turn loose of their efforts to protect themselves, recognizing that their efforts were worthless.   When that happens, God will give them the rewards they have tried to get for themselves, so that even those who are seriously handicapped will have plenty, with no excuses for their state.  God will forgive all their past sins.

1 comment:

  1. Praise God that He is all-powerful, omniscient, and holy, with every right to judge man's wickedness, yet in His mercy, love and grace He withholds or lessens judgment and restores blessings. This is true for His chosen people Israel and for those who have been grafted in to His family tree by our faith in the death, burial and resurrection of His Son as the only Way to Heaven.
    Thanks for the great post & God bless,