05 January, 2017

Isaiah 26:10—“Let favour be shewed to the wicked, yet will he not learn righteousness …”


1. In that day shall this song be sung in the land of Judah; We have a strong city; salvation will God appoint for walls and bulwarks.

2. Open ye the gates, that the righteous nation which keepeth the truth may enter in.

3. Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.

4. Trust ye in the Lord for ever: for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength:

5. For he bringeth down them that dwell on high; the lofty city, he layeth it low; he layeth it low, even to the ground; he bringeth it even to the dust.

6. The foot shall tread it down, even the feet of the poor, and the steps of the needy.

7. The way of the just is uprightness: thou, most upright, dost weigh the path of the just.

8. Yea, in the way of thy judgments, O Lord, have we waited for thee; the desire of our soul is to thy name, and to the remembrance of thee.

9. With my soul have I desired thee in the night; yea, with my spirit within me will I seek thee early: for when thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness.

10. Let favour be shewed to the wicked, yet will he not learn righteousness: in the land of uprightness will he deal unjustly, and will not behold the majesty of the Lord.

11. Lord, when thy hand is lifted up, they will not see: but they shall see, and be ashamed for their envy at the people; yea, the fire of thine enemies shall devour them.

12. Lord, thou wilt ordain peace for us: for thou also hast wrought all our works in us.

13. O Lord our God, other lords beside thee have had dominion over us: but by thee only will we make mention of thy name.

14. They are dead, they shall not live; they are deceased, they shall not rise: therefore hast thou visited and destroyed them, and made all their memory to perish.

15. Thou hast increased the nation, O Lord, thou hast increased the nation: thou art glorified: thou hadst removed it far unto all the ends of the earth.

16. Lord, in trouble have they visited thee, they poured out a prayer when thy chastening was upon them.

17. Like as a woman with child, that draweth near the time of her delivery, is in pain, and crieth out in her pangs; so have we been in thy sight, O Lord.

18. We have been with child, we have been in pain, we have as it were brought forth wind; we have not wrought any deliverance in the earth; neither have the inhabitants of the world fallen.

19. Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust: for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead.

20. Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee: hide thyself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast.

21. For, behold, the Lord cometh out of his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity: the earth also shall disclose her blood, and shall no more cover her slain.

(Isa. 26-1-21)

COMMON GRACE ARGUMENT:
Isaiah 26:10 (“Let favour be shewed to the wicked …”) has sometimes been cited by advocates of common grace (e.g. Ken Stebbins, Christ Freely Offered, pp. 70-72) to suppose that God deals with the reprobate in this world in love, mercy, and kindness. “Favour is shown to the wicked, even though by it he does not learn righteousness” (so it is said). Others have cited this passage to support the idea that sin is restrained, by a common grace of God, in the consciousness, will, and inclinations of fallen mankind.


 (I)

Herman Hoeksema and Henry Danhof

[Source: Sin and Grace (Grandville, MI: RFPA, 2003), pp. 214-216]

First of all, we wish to direct attention to the fact that if this text must serve as proof for the doctrine of common grace, it proves far too much. If this is common grace, then it must be viewed in the sense in which we use it. We do not wish to emphasize the fact that the prophet does not state that the wicked are shown grace, but that this is mentioned conditionally ... 

The meaning is obviously this: If the godless man is shown grace, he shall not learn righteousness. We underscore for the moment what has the emphasis in the text, namely, that the godless man learns no righteousness. The prophet does not say he is spiritually improved by it and his sinful deed is restrained. No, the text says he deals unjustly. He carries out the deed, even if he is shown grace. Sin is not restrained by the evidence of grace. 

But this is, according to Kuyper’s repeated presentation, the power of common grace: Sin is restrained by common grace in the consciousness, the will, and the inclinations of the sinner, according to Kuyper. Well now, that is something quite different from Isaiah 26:10. For there the emphasis falls on the fact that the godless one does not improve, that sin is not restrained, that the godless man will continue to deal unjustly in the land of uprightness ...

This is not an incidental thought in the text while the prophet actually wants to emphasize that the godless are shown grace. It is just the opposite. Isaiah’s main thought is exactly that the godless man does not improve, not in his heart or will or inclination, nor in his deed. He deals unjustly in the land of uprightness. If this is the proper text ... in which the word grace appears in that sense, the common grace theory of 1924 will have to be radically reviewed. For here that view is explicitly opposed.

It is not difficult to grasp the thought of the prophet. The wicked one, as usually is true in the prophets, is the wicked Israelite, the child of the covenant who forsakes the path of the covenant and loves and performs unrighteousness. He lives among God’s people, the righteous, in a land of uprightness. In that land of uprightness, Jehovah shows His grace. There He blesses His people Israel. He dwells there with His ordinances. It lies in the nature of the case that the wicked one who lives among the righteous would also enjoy the gifts of God to His people. When that people prosper, he also prospers. In that sense God proves and reveals His grace also to him. Yet unless God actually gives His grace in a subjective sense, grips him in his heart and saves him, all those external evidences, revelations, proofs, and gifts of grace to God’s people do not help that wicked one in the least. They do not change him. He continues to deal unjustly in the land of uprightness. He does not behold the majesty of the Lord.

If you object to this by saying that God, as far as He is concerned, intends it to be different, but that it is entirely the fault of the wicked one that he receives no grace, then you have forsaken the position of our Reformed fathers and our Confession, and have stepped over to the view of Arminianism. Proof for the use of the word grace, in the sense of common grace, cannot be found here.


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(II)

Herman Hoeksema (1886-1965)


[Source: God’s Goodness Always Particular (RFPA, 2015), pp. 182-185. (NB. The following copyrighted material is taken from Herman Hoeksema’s God’s Goodness Always Particular—a publication of the Reformed Free Publishing Association, 1894 Georgetown Center Drive, Jenison, MI 49428. Phone: 616-457-5970. Website: www.rfpa.org. Email: mail@rfpa.org. It is reproduced with permission and cannot be copied without permission of the staff of the RFPA. I express my appreciation for their willingness to have me copy this chapter of the book and publish it here.]

Isaiah 26:10 is a beautiful and exalted passage of the word of God to which the notion of common grace is foreign and that teaches the opposite of what the defenders of the theory of common grace try to elicit from it. To see this we must pay attention to the context. The text is a song the church sang the day of her victory (v. 1). Her enemies have been subjected, and she has been completely delivered. Moab has been destroyed, and Babylon has been humiliated. God’s people have been liberated.

When we understand this song in its final and highest significance, the people of God stand on the height of their final glorification in the day of Christ. Of the glory of the redeemed Jerusalem the church sings. It sings of the city that has foundations, a strong city that has salvation for its walls and bulwarks. Only the righteous are inhabitants of this city. They enter through the gates. They are the people who keep the truth, and the Lord keeps them in perfect peace. From the viewpoint of this city and its glory, they look back on the present. The God of this people and of this city brings down the enemies. He lays them low to the ground and brings them into the dust. God’s people participate in this judgment, for they are co-workers with God. Therefore, they sing,

8. Yea, in the way of thy judgments, O LORD, have we waited for thee; the desire of our soul is to thy name and to the remembrance of thee.

9. With my soul have I desired thee in the night; yea, with my soul within me will I seek thee early: for when thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness.

The redeemed church here looks back on the past. Many judgments have passed over Israel. War, pestilence, fire, sword, and famine had frequently been the lot of the people of God. But now the remnant according to the election of grace declares in its singing that they had expected and waited for the Lord and had looked for him and his coming in the way of judgments. “Yea, in the way of thy judgments, O LORD, have we waited for thee.” This does not mean that they had merely hoped in him in the midst of trouble or had with certainty expected the Lord to come in the way of judgments on the world, but it emphatically means that they had looked with longing for his judgments.

Why? How could they long for the judgments of God? The answer is that in this chapter there is an expression of strong love for the Lord. This is plain from what the remnant according to the election of grace declares through the mouth of the prophet: “With my soul have I desired thee in the night; yea, with my spirit within me will I seek thee early.” The remnant has zeal for the name of the Lord: “The desire of our soul is to thy name, and to the remembrance of thee.” Their deepest desire is to acknowledge their God and to praise his majesty. Their prayer is “hallowed by thy name.” The people of God are of God’s party and as such they speak.

If the name of God is to be hallowed and glorified, his judgments are inevitable, for when God comes to judge, he empties the vials of his wrath over the ungodly. Then the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness. This does not necessarily mean that under the pressure of God’s judgments the inhabitants of the world will repent and walk in righteousness, but they certainly will learn to see, to know, and to acknowledge the righteousness of God and to behold the majesty of the Lord. When the judgments of God have been fully executed, all the inhabitants of the world will acknowledge that he is righteous, and even the damned in hell will behold and acknowledge Jehovah’s majesty. That this may be realized is the strong desire of God’s people. They long for the day the ungodly will be no more and the majesty of Jehovah will be universally acknowledged. Therefore, they long for God’s judgments, and in the way of judgments they expect the Lord. In this connection verse 10 contrasts with verses 8-9.

Judgments must come. To show favor to the wicked is of no avail. We do not read in verse 10 that grace is actually shown to the wicked or that God is graciously disposed toward him. Literally, the text reads “Let favor be shown to the wicked, if grace is shown to him.” The meaning is that this would be of absolutely no avail. If grace were shown to the wicked, it would not help. He would not learn the majesty of the Lord! The text, therefore, teaches the opposite of what is implied in the theory of common grace, which teaches that if the ungodly were shown some grace, he would at least be somewhat improved and learn some righteousness. But the scriptures here teach the contrary. There is only one way the ungodly learns to know and to acknowledge the righteousness of God, and this is the way of God’s judgments in which the ungodly is destroyed.

That no manifestation of favor will teach the wicked righteousness is evident. He lives in the land of uprightness. He dwells in the land of a righteous people. Thus it was among Israel. Thus it still is with the carnal seed of the church. In that land he beholds the grace of God toward his people. He perceives that God is gracious to the righteous. He hears the proclamation of this truth. He hears and beholds that God is angry with the wicked every day. In that land of uprightness he also witnesses that the righteous acknowledge the majesty of the Lord, fear him, and love him. Does all this reform the wicked? Does it change him in the least? Does it at all induce him to imitate the people of God and to practice righteousness? Not whatsoever! In the land of uprightness he deals wrongfully. Therefore let the Lord come in the way of judgments, for if favor were shown to the wicked, yet he would not learn righteousness. He practices ungodliness and iniquity in the midst of the righteous and deals unjustly in the land of justice and righteousness.

Thus it is always. The ungodly perceives that God is gracious toward his people, for he dwells in the midst of them. But his grace is not common. Grace is shown to him, so that he perceives it, but never so that he can conclude that God is gracious to him as an ungodly man. He stands outside the scope of God’s grace and is well aware of it. In spite of all this, he refuses to repent, will not become righteous, and he cannot be persuaded to acknowledge the righteousness of the Lord. This he will be compelled to do only when God comes in judgments.


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(III)

Herman Hoeksema (1886-1965)

[Source: Protestant Reformed Theological Journal  (vol. 2, no. 1 - December, 1968)]

Apart from the context the future clause means “favor is shown.” But even a superficial reading of the entire text reveals very plainly that the clause may not be translated in this manner. It is a hypothetical clause, the protasis of a conditional sentence, the apodosis of which is “yet will he not learn righteousness.” The meaning is that even if favor is shown to the wicked, it will do him no good; he will not learn righteousness. The same construction appears in Nehemiah 1:8, where the original reads literally, “Ye shall trespass, and I will scatter you abroad among the peoples,” but where the meaning is plainly that of a conditional sentence. Hence the text does not present it as a fact that grace is shown to the wicked.

What is the meaning of Isaiah 26:10? Does Isaiah mean to grant the possibility that the wicked man receives grace? The opposite is true. He means to assert that the wicked man is not at all receptive to grace. Even though he lives right in the midst of the manifestations of God’s grace, yet he does not receive them. This is plain from what follows: “yet will he not learn righteousness.” This is still more evident from the last part of the text: “in the land of uprightness will he deal unjustly, and will not behold the majesty of the LORD.” The meaning is clear. The wicked man lives in the land of uprightness. In that land God reveals the tokens of his grace, in this instance the punishments of Jehovah. In verse 9 the prophet had said, “When thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness.” But in verse 10 he singles out the wicked as an exception to this rule. He does not learn righteousness, even though he lives under Jehovah’s punishments and judgments. Although Jehovah’s majesty through these judgments becomes very evident, he will not behold it.

The passage expresses that even though you place the wicked in the midst of the outward manifestation of God’s grace, yet he receives no grace—exactly what I contended in my last paper. I do not deny that the wicked live in the land of uprightness. But I deny that they receive grace. By not heeding the manifestations of grace in the land of uprightness, he is cursed by these very manifestations.


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(IV)

“The Church’s Awaiting the God of Judgment”

Homer C. Hoeksema (1923-1989)


[Source: Redeemed with Judgment: Sermons on Isaiah, vol. 1 (RFPA, 2007), pp. 272-279. (NB. The following copyrighted material is taken from Homer C. Hoeksema’s Redeemed with Judgement: Sermons on Isaiah— a publication of the Reformed Free Publishing Association, 1894 Georgetown Center Drive, Jenison, MI 49428. Phone: 616-457-5970. Website: www.rfpa.org. Email: mail@rfpa.org. It is reproduced with permission and cannot be copied without permission of the staff of the RFPA. I express my appreciation for their willingness to have me copy this chapter of the book and publish it here.]

The text [Isa. 26:8-11] is part of a song of praise that the church sings to her God in the day of victory over her enemies and her complete deliverance. In the preceding chapters the prophet has proclaimed the coming judgments of God upon the nations of the earth, as well as upon Israel and Judah. Then in chapter 25 Isaiah has seen in his prophetic vision the response of God’s people when those judgments take place. Babylon will be no more, and Moab will be trodden down (v. 10). The Lord, for whom his people have waited, will save Zion, and Zion will rejoice in his salvation (v. 9). Isaiah continues this thought of salvation and rejoicing in Isaiah 26 with the song of Judah and Jerusalem, of which verses 8 through 11 are a part. This song of Judah is the church’s response to God’s promise of judgment and salvation through the prophet’s words. While judgment and salvation must certainly be understood historically as referring to the salvation of Jerusalem, in the highest sense the text views the church from the standpoint of her final judgment at the end of days.

God’s people celebrate in song the glory of saved Jerusalem. They have a strong city with salvation appointed by God for walls and bulwarks (v. 1); never can Jerusalem be overcome or destroyed. God’s people celebrate the inhabitants of this glorious city, the righteous nation that keeps the truth (“truths” or “faithfulnesses”), the nation that trusts in Jehovah, and in the midst of whom he keeps manifold peace (vv. 2, 3). God’s people celebrate the God of this city, Jehovah, who has built and prepared it, who has put to nought all their enemies and laid them low, even to the dust, and who makes the path of the upright straight and even (vv. 4-7).

In this context God’s people express their expectation of his judgments, for they know that their salvation can come only in the way of Jehovah’s judgments. The expectation of God’s people has been fixed upon him in the past, and they will continue to wait for his judgments.


Rooted in the Love of God

According to the prophetic perspective of verses 8 through 11, the delivered church looks back on the past. She remembers the path that she has traversed in her history, particularly in recent times. Many fearful judgments had come upon Israel and Judah. They had experienced war and pestilence; they had endured fire and sword; famine, hunger and death had often been their portion. Nations had risen up against them and sought to destroy them, and many troubles had plagued their path.

In the way of these judgments, God’s people have awaited Jehovah (v. 8). We must be clear that it is not Israel and Judah as a whole who speak the words of the text, but the remnant according the election of grace speaks. The people of God in their outward, national manifestation could not say these words, for they were wicked and carnal, and as such certainly could not and did not await the judgments of God upon them. It is only the true Israel of God who can sing this song.

Notice that they have waited for Jehovah “in the way of [his] judgments” (v. 8). The meaning is not that in the midst of Jehovah’s judgments, as the people of Israel were suffering them, they hoped that God would send deliverance from them. They do not hope for deliverance from his judgments, but they await the judgments. They mean, “We have expected Jehovah to come with his judgments upon Israel.” Moreover, they say, “We have waited for them; we have expected and anticipated them.” That is, God’s people have not only believed that God would come in judgment against his people, but also have looked forward to his judgments and have longed for them.

Why have they waited for God’s judgments? When Jehovah came in judgment upon Israel and Judah, God’s people suffered along with the carnal and wicked element that comprised the majority among Israel and Judah. God’s people surely had to know the implications for themselves and their lives. How, then, could they look forward to Jehovah’s judgments with longing and anticipation and therefore wait for them? The answer is found in the strong expression of love for God in verse 9, which reminds us of Psalm 139, in which David expresses his love for God, as well as his hatred of God’s enemies. Just as David spoke on behalf of God’s people, so Isaiah speaks in the text as the representative of God’s people. Isaiah begins with “we” and “our” in verse 8, and in verse 9 speaks of “I” and “me.” Although his language is personal, his meaning is general. “With my soul have I desired thee in the night,” says the prophet.

The soul is the principle of our life. It includes our mind, our thinking, intellect, and understanding, as well as our desire and our will. Our soul is the aspect of our life according to which we are related to the world and to God and his revelation and word to us, and according to which we are able to desire the things of God. Thus we can understand the words of the prophet: in the quiet of the night he is with Jehovah in his thoughts and desires; he seeks to know the counsel of Jehovah and meditates on the will of the Lord.

The prophet continues, “Yea, with my spirit within me will I seek thee early” (v. 9). Our spirit is the aspect of our being that transcends all our earthly existence and relationships. It is the highest aspect of our existence and is adapted to the knowledge and fellowship of God. Our spirit is the aspect of our being by which we are able to know God, love him, seek him, and have communion with him. Isaiah’s spirit went out toward God early; the very first thing in the morning, before he thought of anything else or did anything else, he sought the Lord.

By this language the prophet expresses on behalf of God’s people a zeal for the name of Jehovah: “The desire of our soul is to thy name, and to the remembrance of thee” (v. 8). Through Isaiah all of the people of God speak these words. Their desire is toward the name of Jehovah, which is the revelation of his being, with the intent that through the glorification of his name, God himself will be glorified and exalted, as in the words of the Lord’s Prayer we say, “Hallowed by thy name.” The desire of God’s people is toward his remembrance, which means that they are mindful of him, his law, and his revelation, and desire to reverence his will and to keep it. They are God’s covenant people. Because they are of God’s covenant part, and because through his grace they stand for his covenant and its realization according to his promise, they have waited for him in the way of his judgments.


Aroused by the Walk of the Ungodly

The waiting of God’s people for his judgments stands in sharp contrast with the walk of the wicked. It is hopeless to show favor to the ungodly, according to verse 9: “Why thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness.” The inhabitants of the world are the wicked nations, as is evident from the fact that God’s judgments are in the earth. In his wrath and fury he comes in condemnation against the ungodly, as Isaiah has abundantly prophesied. When he does so, the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness. This expression does not mean that the wicked learn righteousness in the sense that through God’s judgments they are converted from their evil ways, their idolatry, and their hatred of God and of his people so that they are justified in God’s sight and learn to observe and to do righteousness, walking in sanctification before him. God’s righteousness does not become their righteousness personally and experientially. Rather, through God’s judgments the wicked learn his righteousness objectively; through the expressions of his wrath, God teaches the world that he is the righteous God who maintains his cause and preserves his people, who through Christ are righteous as he is righteous. The wicked learn to know and acknowledge, in spite of themselves, the righteousness of God.

This is the point of the contrast between verse 9 and 10. Verse 9 says that the wicked will learn righteousness, while verse 10 says that they will not learn righteousness. Yes, they will know and acknowledge God’s righteousness; when his judgments come upon them, they must admit that God who judges is just. Yet personally they do not learn righteousness; they do not become righteous, and they do not walk in righteousness. In this light the desire of God’s people for his judgments to fall upon the wicked becomes clearer: the desire of God’s people is toward his name, his remembrance, and his righteousness. Because judgment is the way in which his righteousness is acknowledged, God’s people await and desire his judgments upon the inhabitants of the world and upon the wicked in Israel and Judah.

All of this becomes even more evident from verse 10 which may be more clearly understood as saying, “Though grace were to be shown to the wicked, they would not learn righteousness; even in the land of uprightness they would go on doing evil and regard not the majesty of Jehovah.”

To show favor or grace to the wicked is of no avail. Notice that the text does not say that grace is indeed shown to the wicked. The meaning is that even if the grace of God were shown to the wicked, they would not learn righteousness. That grace is not shown to the ungodly is plain also from the general context, which speaks not of favor, but only of wrath and judgment.

How, then, will the ungodly learn to acknowledge God’s name and learn righteousness?

To that question there are many who answer, “Be gracious unto him! Let God deal with him—even just a little—in his favor. Let God be longsuffering toward him. If God deals graciously with him, he will naturally become better; he will learn to keep God’s law, and he will keep God in remembrance. God’s stringent judgments are not necessary to teach him righteousness; his favor is sufficient.”

The prophet answers, “That would be of no avail. He is wicked. He hates righteousness. He will never learn righteousness, because he is reprobate, and he cannot learn righteousness. Therefore, the judgments that destroy him must come, for only in the way of God’s wrath and condemnation will the wicked be compelled to acknowledge God’s name and God’s remembrance.”

This truth is strengthened in the last part of verse 10. The wicked man whom the prophet has in view dwells “in the land of uprightness.” Isaiah thus refers to the wicked of Israel and Judah who dwell among the righteous in the land of God’s covenant. He dwells in the land of uprightness; that is, he dwells in the midst of God’s people, who have God’s laws and ordinances and God’s revelation, who know what God requires of them, who know the way of righteousness, and who, walking in the way of God’s commandments, are righteous before him in Christ. If anything could teach the wicked righteousness, surely it would be living in such a land of uprightness!

Nevertheless, the wicked man deals unjustly. He does not concern himself with the majesty, nor regard his sovereignty. He has absolutely no respect for Jehovah’s greatness. Instead, he loves unrighteousness and does iniquity before the face of the Lord. He deals unjustly, continuing to do evil in defiance of the majesty of Jehovah. Will the wicked man learn righteousness if grace were shown to him? No, through the way of favor he will not become better, but will persist and become worse in his wickedness.

Far from teaching common grace, a good favor of God whereby the wicked would become better, the text portrays a hopeless case for the wicked. For him there is no grace, but only an awaiting of God in the way of judgment and wrath. Only the fury and condemnation of God will strike into him reverence for the majesty of Jehovah. The result is that although in all of his life and even to all eternity he never learns to do good; nevertheless, he will be forced to acknowledge God’s justice and majesty, both in the salvation of the elect and in his own just condemnation.


Strengthened by the Desire for Deliverance

The waiting of God’s people for his judgments is strengthened by their longing for deliverance from their enemies.

According to verse 11 God is jealous for his people. God’s jealousy is rooted in his love for them; in his electing grace he has chosen them from all eternity to be his people. Because they are eternally his, he loves them with an eternal, unchangeable love. That he loves them means that he desires to make them blessed as he is blessed, to take them to himself, and to cause them to share in his triune covenant life. God reveals his love in the death of Christ: so jealous is he of his people that he sent his only begotten Son to redeem them, so that through his blood they might become the perfect objects of his love.

Having loved and redeemed his people, God is jealous for them when they are surrounded and threatened by enemies. Judah expresses a strong desire for deliverance from her enemies. Literally she says, “Let them see thy zeal for thy people and be put to shame; let the fire reserved for thy enemies consume them” (v. 11). When God’s people are oppressed in the world, God is zealous for them; his zeal for his people burns as the fire of his wrath against the wicked, for they are touching the apple of his eye. Because he loves his people, he will not permit the wicked to destroy them, but will surely deliver them.

While God’s people are in the world, they must endure trouble and persecution. The wicked, who deal unjustly even while they live in the land of righteousness, bring about tribulation for God’s people. They mock them for trusting in the name of Jehovah and for walking in righteousness; they oppress the faithful in Judah; they seek to destroy the elect remnant, pressing them from every side.

In the midst of their trouble, his saints cry to the Lord; with their soul they desire him in the night, and with their spirit they seek him early. They see that God’s hand is lifted up, although the enemy does not. The saints see the mighty hand of God ready to destroy their enemies and to save his people whom he loves. Thus they pray that God’s zeal and jealousy may break forth against the ungodly to shame and confound them. They pray, “Let the fire reserved for thy enemies consume them, so that they are no more.”

Isaiah prays these words on behalf of the elect remnant in Judah, putting these words in the mouth of God’s people. It is no different for the church today. Still the final judgment of the ungodly and the salvation of the elect is delayed. Also for us it is easy, in times of spiritual lethargy and increasing worldliness, not to wait for Jehovah’s judgments as we ought. We are inclined to say, “Let the wicked be shown a little favor, too.” But that is hopeless! God’s judgments will surely come, and with them, our salvation. If the soul’s desire is toward God, toward the honor of his name and the remembrance of Jehovah, then we, with the faithful in Judah, will testify of God’s righteous judgments against the ungodly. Then we also, like the remnant in the days of the prophet, will suffer for our testimony.

When we suffer, as we surely will, the words of the text become ours. We cry, “Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly! We await thee with our soul in the night and with our spirit in the morning! Lift up thy hand against thy enemies so that they may be ashamed, and let the fire of thy wrath consume them.” We await God in the way of his judgments, for only then do the wicked learn righteousness, and only therein lies our everlasting salvation.


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(IV)

More to come! (DV)






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