Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Comfort My People: The Prophecies Of Isaiah, Day 85

Comfort My People:
The Prophecies Of Isaiah
Day 85

Chapter 32 is titled "The Kingdom Of Righteousness". A righteous kingdom requires a righteous king and Isaiah begins the chapter with this promise, "See, a king will reign in righteousness and rulers will rule with justice." (Isaiah 32:1) 

Some commentators have attempted to apply this to King Hezekiah because he was on the throne during this period of Isaiah's ministry, but although Hezekiah was generally a good king, we have learned that his faith failed him at the threat of the Assyrian army. He rebelled for a time against the word of God and sought help from Egypt and her coalition of nations. Some have suggested Hezekiah's descendant Josiah, a godly king and Judah's last good king, is indicated here. But he unwisely went to battle against Pharaoh Necho of Egypt. Necho was crossing Judah's territory with his army in order to fight at Carchemish and Josiah objected to his crossing. Necho tried to reason with him that there was no quarrel between Egypt and Judah and that Josiah was out of God's will in opposing him. This was evidently true because Josiah was mortally wounded in that battle. So although Hezekiah and Josiah were good kings for Judah, and both were a blessing upon the nation, I have to agree with the scholars who believe the king who reigns in righteousness is the Lord Jesus Christ, Israel's Messiah and King. No mortal man is able to reign in complete righteousness other than the Son of Man and Son of God.

Sin will reign no more when the King sits on the throne and people will be a blessing to each other. "Each one will be like a shelter from the wind and a refuge from the storm, like streams of water in the desert and the shadow of a great rock in a thirsty land." (Isaiah 32:2) The Lord has graciously given us a little taste of this in our present lives. We probably all know at least one godly person in whose presence we feel comforted. We have family members and friends who are the first ones we think of when we are troubled, because getting in their presence makes us feel better. When Christ reigns, every person on earth will have these wonderful qualities, for they are the redeemed and they reflect the glory of the Redeemer.

Previously Isaiah has criticized the people for their willful blindness and deafness. They have refused the word of the Lord. But in the kingdom of righteousness this will no longer be the case. "Then the eyes of those who see will no longer be closed, and the ears of those who hear will listen. The fearful heart will know and understand, and the stammering tongue will be fluent and clear." (Isaiah 32:3-4) 

"No longer will the fool be called noble nor the scoundrel be highly respected." (Isaiah 32:5) In the Scriptures, a fool is not a person of simply poor judgment or a failure to be serious about life. The word "fool" is used for a person who is morally and spiritually corrupt, for one who rejects the truth and has no heart for the things of God. The way of the world is to reward those who make a name for themselves, regardless of their moral character. A person can become famous or wealthy or powerful without also being godly. Not so in the kingdom of righteousness! God looks on the heart, not on the outward appearance. The Bible tells us that God is not partial to those who are successful by worldly standards and that He is not influenced by the name a man has made for himself. (Acts 10:34, Romans 2:11)

"For fools speak folly, their hearts are bent on evil: They practice ungodliness and spread error concerning the Lord; the hungry they leave empty and from the thirsty they withhold water." (Isaiah 32:6) Many false teachers have led people astray over the centuries. Charismatic leaders have "spread error concerning the Lord". They have put on a front of godliness but inside they lack compassion for the needy. They have had it within their power to do good deeds but were intent on getting gain for themselves. 

"Scoundrels use wicked methods, they make up evil schemes to destroy the poor with lies, even when the plea of the needy is just." (Isaiah 32:7) The scoundrel is out for himself and will reject the plea of the needy because it is not convenient for him. It does not gain anything material for him to help those who bring a righteous case before him, so he perverts justice. He takes bribes. He rules in unrighteousness. This is a sharp contrast to the One who will reign in absolute perfect righteousness, who cares for the widow and the orphan, who loves the poor and needy, who rewards the godly.

"But the noble make noble plans, and by noble deeds they stand." (Isaiah 32:8) The carnal mind in the world today has a habit of calling "evil good and good evil". (Isaiah 5:20) The world rewards those who get ahead, no matter what they had to do to get ahead. But in God's eyes, only noble deeds are worthy. Only the noble will stand in His presence. Our words and deeds testify to the condition of our hearts. "A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart." (Luke 6:45a)

We live in a world that rewards mankind for the wrong things but this condition will be reversed in the kingdom of righteousness. God cares about what's in our hearts, not what's in our bank accounts. He doesn't care what kind of name we've made for ourselves or how much power we've managed to grasp. What is mankind's wealth or fame or power to the living God? Can anyone or anything compare to Him? He cannot be bribed. He will not make an unjust ruling. He will judge what's in the heart and will not be deceived by man's outward appearance. The Lord says, "These are the ones I look on with favor: those who are humble and contrite in spirit, and who tremble at My word." (Isaiah 66:2b) King David, a man who was powerful and wealthy by the world's standards, knew he would not be saved from his sins and mistakes because of who he was but because he was sorrowful and repentant. "My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart You, God, will not despise." (Psalm 51:17)

We can look around us this morning and find a lot of things wrong with the world and its attitudes. But the Lord's kingdom will come and in that day all will be set right. Rewards will be given for godliness, not for shrewd dealing. Honesty and godliness will be honored, not crooked business practices and unrighteous living. We who are in Christ long for the kingdom to come so that at last all things will be as they should be. "In just a little while, He who is coming will come and will not delay." (Hebrews 10:37) Our King is coming and we take heart in this promise.

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