Friday, February 8, 2008

Isaiah Chapter 26 and 27

I apologize for not writing yesterday. Sometimes the Spirit calls me to a day of rest away from this so I can come back fresh and more focused on my work here. Yesterday was one of those days. It does set up today's writing, as chapters 26 and 27 of Isaiah are linked. They are both linked to chapters 24 and 25 as well in terms of the deliverance of the remnant of Israel and the judgment of her enemies, but today's chapters focus mostly on the praise that the followers of God give Him in the face of these judgments. This is still a day that will come, as many scholars believe that the judgments Isaiah refers to here symbolize the end of the world.

9 My soul yearns for you in the night;
       in the morning my spirit longs for you.
       When your judgments come upon the earth,
       the people of the world learn righteousness.

 10 Though grace is shown to the wicked,
       they do not learn righteousness;
       even in a land of uprightness they go on doing evil
       and regard not the majesty of the LORD.

 11 O LORD, your hand is lifted high,
       but they do not see it.
       Let them see your zeal for your people and be put to shame;
       let the fire reserved for your enemies consume them.

 12 LORD, you establish peace for us;
       all that we have accomplished you have done for us.

 13 O LORD, our God, other lords besides you have ruled over us,
       but your name alone do we honor. – Isaiah 26:9-13

How is grace shown to the wicked? Well, because all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, we are all wicked. We see this grace not only in the love of Christ, but in the fact that God has provided a way through Christ to overcome our wickedness and obtain righteousness. Many do accept this wonderful gift, but many don't. That is what Isaiah means here when he states that grace is shown to the wicked, but they still do not learn righteousness.

So how does this carry over to today? It carries over in that we see wickedness and brokenness now more than ever before in the history of the world, but there is still God's grace. It is up to God alone to grant this grace, providing peace and love to all of us even though we do not deserve it. Those who have accepted this gift praise Him for it, as the people of Israel praise Him for it here in Isaiah 26. It is praise in the face of judgment because we know that we are clean and forgiven.

2 In that day—
       "Sing about a fruitful vineyard:

 3 I, the LORD, watch over it;
       I water it continually.
       I guard it day and night
       so that no one may harm it.

 4 I am not angry.
       If only there were briers and thorns confronting me!
       I would march against them in battle;
       I would set them all on fire. – Isaiah 27:2-4

This is just one verse, but it is beautiful in its imagery of the dilemma that God faces with humanity. We are the vineyard, and God watches over us and tends to us with great care. Still, we rebel against him. In this He still loves us. The allusion of briers and thorns shows that He could easily show his anger against us when we rebel, but instead He shows grace, as shown in chapter 26. Isaiah tells us here that God is not angry, but it is still difficult for Him to deal with us. It is almost like He wants to be angry with us, but He knows He can't be. This grace is simply overwhelming.


  1. Does this show that grace is enough?
  2. How important is it to praise God in all things?
  3. Is God justified in this anger if He showed it?

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