As I was reading in Isaiah this morning, a few verses jumped out at me. These are the first two:
Isaiah 3:8–9 “For Jerusalem is ruined, and Judah is fallen: because their tongue and their doings are against the LORD, to provoke the eyes of his glory. The shew of their countenance doth witness against them; and they declare their sin as Sodom, they hide it not. Woe unto their soul! for they have rewarded evil unto themselves.”
Yes, the LORD is talking about Jerusalem and Judah and the people of Israel, but the principles He used in dealing with them have not changed because He has not changed. They still apply to His people today.
Malachi 3:6 “For I am the LORD, I change not….”
The LORD is declaring judgment against them because “their tongue and their doings are against the LORD.” The speech and actions that dominate their land are against the LORD. They are blatantly rebellious to His word that specifies what is acceptable in word and deed before Him. Their words and actions boldly declare their sin; they act without shame in defiance of God’s word.
Say what you will, America’s roots grew in a foundation that was formed using the standard of God’s word. Many of the early settlers came to America for religious freedom. The schools of our land began as institutions of training up young men to honor the LORD. Honoring God was the accepted norm.
How far we have strayed from those beginnings! The verses above from Isaiah would read just as true if we substituted the words Washington D.C. for Jerusalem and America for Judah.
It is obvious to me that the LORD has declared His judgment against our land. We should fear for our lives because our actions, our rebellion against God will culminate in evil against us. In our nation as a whole, things that were once universally recognized as sin have now become accepted—even in our churches. The blatant disregard of God’s word is at an all-time high. It has gotten to the point that those who stand for the truth of God’s word are being persecuted, and I believe such persecution is only going to get worse as time goes on. Our only hope is that a national revival breaks out in the land, and we repent of our sins before God. Personally, I don’t see this happening because I believe we are firmly enmeshed in the season of the final countdown to the LORD’s return as revealed by the prophets.
People of faith that have accepted Jesus as their Savior need not despair. The next two verses provide hope for the righteous and emphasize that the wicked can expect to reap what he sows.
Isaiah 3:10–11 “Say ye to the righteous, that it shall be well with him: for they shall eat the fruit of their doings. Woe unto the wicked! it shall be ill with him: for the reward of his hands shall be given him.”
It is important to be able to identify who are the righteous and who are the wicked according to God’s word. I think that Paul sums it up well in his letter to the Romans.
Romans 8:1–9 “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.”
The righteous are those that possess the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus and strive to live according to the leading of that Spirit in accordance to God’s word. The wicked are those who “mind the things of the flesh” that lead to spiritual death. To act according to the flesh testifies to a carnal mind, a mind that is against God, and results in refusing to live according to His laws. Paul made the point in a previous chapter that those who choose to serve the LORD are servants of righteousness; all others are servants of sin. It’s either/or; there is no middle ground in God’s eyes.
Romans 6:16–18 “Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.”
Now that we have identified the righteous, we can understand Isaiah when he declared that the righteous will do well; their future will reveal God’s favor and blessing when they reap the reward of their actions. The wicked will also reap the rewards of their actions. Sadly, that “reward” will result in death and an existence devoid of the presence of the LORD.
John 5:28–29 “Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.”
In which camp do you fall? God has graciously provided for every single person to be made righteous.
2 Corinthians 5:20–21 “Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God. For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”
John 3:16–17 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.”
Romans 10:9 “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.”