Isaiah 32–33. Kingdom Righteousness.
Key Notes: Ten aspects of Kingdom righteousness. Who can endure the devouring fire? Alternating vision of disaster and beauty. Righteousness and the modern church.
The latter chapters of the first half of Isaiah take on some aspects of the Old Testament wisdom literature (Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon), describing the righteous who will inherit the Kingdom. These two chapters speak much of the goodness that will characterize the Messiah's kingdom. We can readily see the prophet oscillate to and fro between the glorious future and the ugly present.
32:1–4 A King in righteousness will be surrounded by princes who are a protection for their people, from storm, drought and heat. The eyes and ears of people will be open and their mouths will speak clearly.
32:5–14 In contrast, the fool plots sin and the knave robs the poor. Complacent women must mourn for the soon coming loss of vineyards and fields, palaces and cities.
32:15–20 But when the Spirit is poured out from heaven, the fields will be again fruitful, and justice, righteousness, peace and happiness will prevail.
33:1–6 Assyria is once again denounced for its treachery. Isaiah prays for God's salvation, and the stability of future times, when there will be salvation, wisdom, knowledge and fear of the Lord.
33:7–12 Meantime, the envoys of peace weep, the covenants are broken, the land withers until God arises (please, now, Lord!) and consumes the enemy.
Four areas of the country would wither.
Lebanon was famous for its cedars. "His appearance is like Lebanon, choice as the cedars." (S. of Songs.5:15). Bashan was the fertile farm-land east of the the Sea of Galilee.
Carmel was a beautiful mountainous area near the Mediterranean Sea.
Sharon was a well-watered oak forest (now "like a desert") along the Mediterranean, that was eventually cleared for growing grains. Isaiah speaks of "the majesty of ....Sharon." (35:2). The maiden of Song of Solomon was "the rose of Sharon" (S. of S. 2:1), probably a wild rose of the forest. These four areas were the beauties of the land that were destined to wither.
33:13–16 Judah asks the important question: who can abide before the consuming fire of God's wrath? The one who walks uprightly, abhors extortion, will not touch a bribe, and will not countenance bloodshed or evil, he will be secure in God.
33:17–24 The King will be seen in His beauty.
Terror will be only a memory. Jerusalem will be quiet and secure with the Lord among them in majesty, as ruler, judge and king. "You are the fairest of men; grace is poured upon your lips." "...your robes are all fragrant with myrrh and aloes and cassia. " (Psa.45: 2,8).
"In your majesty ride forth victoriously, for the cause of truth and to defend the right." (Psa.45:4,6).
Now Judah (and Assyria) are undone, but then there will be no sickness and sins will be forgiven.
The Kingdom is characterized not only by a restored natural order, as we saw in Isaiah 11, but also by a renewed social and spiritual order:
righteousness 32:1,16,17; 33:5,15
justice 32:1; 33:5
and the fear of the Lord. 33:6
These qualities are found not only in the King Himself, but in His princes, and the saved ones--those who can endure the eternal fire. Heb.12:29 reminds us that "our God is a consuming fire".
Who can dwell in God's presence (Isa.33:14) is a question asked three times in Scripture.
•Isaiah's answer is that "the upright will dwell on the heights". (33:16)
• "O Lord, who shall sojourn in Your tabernacle? Who shall dwell on Your holy hill? He who walks blamelessly and does what is right, and speaks truth from his heart; who does not slander with his tongue and does no evil to his friend...in whose eyes a reprobate is despised but who honors those who fear the Lord, who swears to his own hurt...and does not take a bribe against the innocent. He who does these things shall never be moved." (Psa.15)
•"Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord and who shall stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false and does not swear deceitfully. He will receive blessing from the Lord and vindication from the God of his salvation." (Psa.24:3–5)
These passages emphasize the righteous life which will characterize the saved ones. Evangelicals teach:
•the sinfulness of human beings
•necessity of a right relationship with God through Christ's sacrifice
•the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives
•overcoming sin, and being healed emotionally
•rejecting good works as the means of salvation.
But because we reject good works as a means of obtaining salvation, we tend to neglect good works after salvation as well. Things previously thought to be out of bounds are now commonplace in conservative circles so that it is hard to see the difference between us and non-Christians. We have generously imbibed the culture of the World. Righteousness is out of vogue and attacked everywhere. Virtue? Virginity? Purity? Holiness. Humility. Piety. Zeal.
Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil (33:15) is only for plaster monkeys?
Righteousness is tough work, swimming against the stream, climbing up the narrow way that leads to life. (Matt.7:13–14)
How can righteousness be attained?
•Jesus set the standard of righteousness (Matt.5–7), so we know what our goals are.
•We must work out our own salvation with fear and trembling. (Phil.2:13)
•God is our power source. "...for it is God who works in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure." (Phil.2:13)--and the Holy Spirit is our enabler. (Rom.8:4)
Without the Holy Spirit, we have only a "guilt trip."