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Light Through Judgment
—General James Green, July 8, 2011—
Isaiah 26— A prayer/psalm "of entreaty & faith"
MOST BIBLE SCHOLARS believe Isaiah 26:7-19 is a liturgy of entreaty similar to Psalm 44, 60, and 74; and is used in time of calamity at a solemn assembly like that described in Joel 2:15-17 (see also 1 Kg 8:33-34).
Isaiah 26:1-6 is, of course, a hymn of thanksgiving for victory; verses 7-19 comprise a psalm/prayer of entreaty and faith.
In Today’s Setting
WE DON’T HAVE to look backwards to some distant era of trouble, distress or calamity—we have this NOW in 2011! There is no doubt that the USA and the world in general are in great distress. And it’s all because of SIN. At one time, America could have claimed Isaiah 26:2 as its very own: “Open ye the gates, that the righteous nation, which keepeth the truth, may enter in.” Not any more.
This chapter opens with a praise of Zion’s strength (see also Psa 48:13-14; and in the Hebrew Bible, see vv. 12-13). Truly, at one time, America could sing, “We have a strong city (nation); salvation will God appoint for walls and bulwarks.” America, the land of religious (Christian) freedom, the land of the “brave,” the “strong”—and Christianity made it so!! Don’t forget this!
America opened her gates (arms) to all the world, the oppressed, the persecuted, the downtrodden, etc. But America has opened her arms too wide—to SIN, DEGRADATION, and DEFILEMENT...unto her own DESTRUCTION.
JUDAH’S TRUST IN Yahweh, “which brought her TRIUMPH,” is declared in verse three; verse four follows with “a call to faith” in the very LORD who laid low the enemies (v. 5) under the feet of His people (v. 6).
America once could boast in that! Sadly, because of America’s backslidings/ apostasy, she is now under the feet of evil leaders who are covenant-breakers, liars, deceivers…..ABOMINABLE in every way! Thus America is being CONSUMED by the very evil that was once a very small force BECAUSE of the righteous people of God in those days.
“In God We Trust”??
MAYBE YESTERDAY, but not today—and we can surely see the results of this: DECAY! DEFEAT! DEATH!
JUDAH COULD BOAST in Yahweh: “We have a strong city” (v. 1), in opposition to the city of the enemy, which God had destroyed (see chapter 25).
MOST SCHOLARS believe that Isaiah 26:1-2 refers to the time of salvation, that is, the days of Jesus the Messiah. The converted Gentiles shall have the “gates opened”—a FULL ENTRANCE into all the glories and privileges of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, being fellow-heirs with the converted Jews (AKA, “completed Jews”). The Jewish peculiarity is destroyed, for the middle wall of separation/partition is broken down.
In a worldly sense, this was what made America so “great”: Her willingness to open her borders to all faiths. Sadly, today, this has had a profound negative effect: not because we should be biased against others, but because the “Christian” Church has become so WORLDLY and COMPROMISING, she has become weak and basically ineffective in her Gospel salvation presentation. I’ll say it: SHE HAS BECOME “CHRISTIAN” IN NAME ONLY!!
THE GOSPEL itself is the fulfillment of all the ancient types, shadows, and ceremonies/mysteries, and therefore is termed “the truth,” in opposition to all those shadowy rites/ceremonies/mysteries.
John 1:17 tells us that “The law was given by Moses; but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ”—the very Jesus Christ that the American government (and too many churches!) won’t allow a place. Just what did St. John have in mind when he penned 1:17? Was not the law of Moses (that came from God) “truth” also? Weren’t “the lively oracles” (Acts 7:38) which were given to the Israelites, truth?
The old covenant, with Moses as mediator, was being replaced now by a new covenant, Jesus Christ being the new Mediator (see Heb 8:6; 9:15; Gal 3:19).
The Law of Moses was intended to CONVICT men of sin, the Gospel of Jesus Christ is to CONVERT the sinner.
The law of Moses, as good as it was (and parts of it are still binding upon the N.T. Christian), was of shadows, types, and figures (Hebrews 10:1) and incapable of expiating sin by its sacrifices (Rom 8:3; Heb 7:18, 19; 10:1, 11), but Jesus Christ has brought “grace” which is opposed “condemnation” (Rom 5:15, 20, 21; 8:1; Gal 3:10) and He is Himself the “spirit” and “substance” of all those shadows (Col 2:19; Heb 10:1).
Not only all that, but Jesus Christ was/is the Messiah/Anointed Prophet/appointed Priest and elected King sent down from heaven.
The “truth” John writes about and the “person of Truth” is called Jesus—He who looses from sin, enlarges in faith and endows with eternal salvation. Jesus and His Word of Truth enriches man’s poverty, strengthens his weaknesses, teaches his ignorance, brings him out of life’s difficulties, raises him Heavenward unto glory. And the aggregate of these is SALVATION—“His name shall be called Jesus: for He shall save His people from their sins” (Matt 1:21).
To My Point Intended (vv. 8-9)
AS WE GO back to Isaiah 26:8, “Yea, in the way of the judgments, O LORD, have we waited for thee; the desire of our soul is to thy name, and to the remembrance of thee” (KJV). The RSV reads: “In the path of thy judgments, O LORD, we wait for thee; thy memorial which has acquired meaning from what Israel remembers Yahweh to have done.” The Dead Sea Scrolls read instead, “thy name and thy law,” which some scholars believe to be original.
Light Through Judgment (v. 9)
VERSE 9 SUGGESTS the theme of “Light Through Judgment”: “...when thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness.” Many scholars disagree with that! They claim that history refutes such a statement: for God's judgments have continually fallen upon the human race, and yet not righteousness. But the retribution which has fallen on human sinfulness has, as we view it, progressively made clear how our God looks on life, and what He requires of men. In fact, the Law given to Moses was for this purpose: to show Israel (and the world) what God requires. Not only this, but the consequences, if they/we break His laws/commandments. This “Truth” is carried on over into the New Testament era.
IF WORDS DON’T CATCH OUR ATTENTION, JUDGMENTS WILL. It is a sad day indeed when men, both in politics and religion, deny God His rightful place in the affairs of men.
Men Playing God
WHEN MEN deny God's Word, they automatically open themselves up to receive His judgments. If we refuse His warnings, we will receive His correction (which can come in many painful ways). Take a look at America today as compared when this nation feared God. You can’t tell me that men have brought in light. NO! Darkness, decay and death abounds. Sins that once were considered “evil” and “wrong” are now promoted by both Church and State; homosexuality is one such SIN. The list is long if you care to list them.
Riches to Rags!
LITERALLY! This is happening as I write. But when preachers preached against the lust and love of money, the good times of prosperity, men were taught to be sober-minded, not to run up huge (or small) debts, not to buy on credit, use your money wisely, save and put some away for your kids and grandkids. Now, I need not even go into the sorry state of affairs—government WASTES Billions, even Trillions (with capital “B” and “T”), printing $$ that has no backing, the national debt and state debts are out-of-sight, blah, blah, blah. The same can be said for the “Christians” in debt, spendthrifts, all credit-card addicted, blah, blah, blah.
This nation has literally thrown God's Word and His principles on the DUNG HEAP. When men could and would judge themselves, because of God's Word, things were much, much better. And if men got too much out of line, God's judgments would get them back in line.
Those were the days when this nation had some fear of God—but men began to look to the government for their “guiding light,” and now that false light has led this nation in TOTAL RUINATION….AND IT WILL GET WORSE!!
When His judgments were allowed in the earth, men learned righteousness, that is, being in right standing with God.
It is true, men seldom seek God in prosperity; they are apt to rest in an earthly portion; but the LORD in His mercy embitters this by adversity; then there is a cry for His righteousness once again. I entreat you, my readers, to call upon His name once again if you have strayed. Repent and turn back to Him.
Favor to the Wicked?
THIS IS WHAT both the U.S. government and the liberal backslid Church demand! HA! Cold day in HELL when our Holy God blesses sin and sinners. Oh, He permits them to prosper in their rebellion, in their witchcrafts, but sooner or later He brings down His judgments—wait and see what He does to America, if she does not turn from her wicked ways. Wait and see.
Isaiah 26:10 says, “If favor is shown to the wicked, he (the wicked) does not learn righteousness...”—while political figures and religious figures push their filthy and vile agendas (as they are currently doing!), trying to MAKE God accept them, He just waits; their judgments will come. We know just how bad the homosexual community is affected and infected by sex-related diseases. They lose high numbers to HIV/AIDS every year, and this is only in the area of HIV/AIDS. The more they push their FILTH and ABOMINABLE practices, the more they die!
Judgment Is His Love
“ARE YOU CRAZY, General Jim?” No, not at all. GOD'S JUDGMENT IS HIS LOVE IN ACTION. He does not honor or bless sin or sinners; but because they (sinners) are His creation, He sends judgments, hoping they will acknowledge their evil ways and repent.
His judgments are called “evil” in Isaiah 45:7 [read that verse in the Amplified Bible, and look up the word “evil” in the Hebrew: it means “physical evil, calamity, etc.” (Heb. ra = “physical evil”)]. Our loving Creator sends evil/judgments into the world in order to accomplish “a didactic or tutorial purpose” (see Psa 119:67, 71).
Think of the sheer “Hell on Earth” if God did not send His judgments; if this happens, the wicked would learn nothing but to continue to do evil. I don’t think you would want to live in that would you?
I don’t want to make more out of Isa. 26:1-10 than is there. But it really saddens me when I hear of Christians despising God's dealings. We ought to pray for His judgments—in our lives and in the world.
Isaiah’s prayer/psalm was set against the background of a time of national distress and anguish—like now. This is the time, dear Christians, to pray for His judgments, for they will set things aright. Men need to stop playing God, patching things up when disasters come, when evil strikes individuals/nations—LET GOD BE GOD. This does not mean we do not have feelings of pity but in the BIG picture God is trying to catch men’s attention, get them to repent and be spared eternally. It is foolish to pray for the “good ol’ days” to return when men need to get right with the Lord Jesus Christ now.
Remember, IT WAS THE “GOOD OL’ DAYS,” THE “PROSPEROUS DAYS” IN AMERICA, WHEN AMERICANS STARTED TO TURN AWAY FROM HIS WORD, HIS JUDGMENTS.
[Study material has been adapted from its original sources.]