Archive for the 'Isaiah' Category

14
Dec
10

following the star and finding the king

Isa 60:1-22 (ESV)
Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.  ​​​​​​​​For behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the Lord will arise upon you, and his glory will be seen upon you.  ​​​​​​​​And nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising…  ​​​​​​​​Then you shall see and be radiant; your heart shall thrill and exult, because the abundance of the sea shall be turned to you, the wealth of the nations shall come to you… ​​​​​ They shall bring gold and frankincense, and shall bring good news, the praises of the Lord… ​​​​​​  ​​​​​​For the coastlands shall hope for me, the ships of Tarshish first, to bring your children from afar, their silver and gold with them, for the name of the Lord your God, and for the Holy One of Israel, because he has made you beautiful…

The sun shall be no more your light by day, nor for brightness shall the moon give you light; but the Lord will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your glory.  ​​​​​​​​Your sun shall no more go down, nor your moon withdraw itself; for the Lord will be your everlasting light, and your days of mourning shall be ended.  ​​​​​​​​Your people shall all be righteous; they shall possess the land forever, the branch of my planting, the work of my hands, that I might be glorified.

Isaiah 60 is a glorious vision of a future Zion.  Jerusalem was in ruins because she had been judged by God for her sins.  Israel was in exile.  Isaiah’s prophecy sees a day of coming glory and joy for Jerusalem, for Zion, for Israel.  It is a day when Jerusalem will no longer be despised and a disgrace but all the nations of the earth will bring their wealth to her like the Queen of Sheba brought her gifts to Solomon. Jerusalem will be glorious for the Lord himself will be her glory and her light.

Revelation shows us that the complete fulfilment of this prophecy awaits the Second Coming of Christ and the establishing of his final everlasting Kingdom.  John has a vision of this glory in Revelation 21.

Rev 21:1-27 (ESV)
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God…  Then came one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues and spoke to me, saying, “Come, I will show you the Bride, the wife of the Lamb.” And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great, high mountain, and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, having the glory of God, its radiance like a most rare jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal…

And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, and its gates will never be shut by day-and there will be no night there. They will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations.

But Isaiah’s prophecy, like all OT prophecies that speak of the End, has a fulfilment in history.  For the End rightly began 2000 years ago.  The salvation of God that will result in a renewed universe suffused with the presence of God arrived with the birth of Immanuel, God with Us: then Israel’s light dawned; then the glory of the Lord appeared in her midst; and then the nations of the earth began to be drawn to this light and glory.

Matthew’s gospel makes this clear.  Matthew presents Jesus as Messiah, Israel’s King and Lover, the source of her glory.  In other gospels the Glory of Israel is first seen by Shepherds.  But Matthew does not mention the shepherds.  It is the wise men who are the first to come to Jesus.  It is the nations of the world who are first to recognise his arrival and come to worship.  Matthew writes,

Matt 2:1-12 (ESV)
Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet:

“‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.’”

Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.” After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way.

In fact, while Israel is poised to reject and kill him if possible, the gentiles come to worship and rejoice at the birth of Israel’s glory, of Zion’s King first indicated in a rising star.  They announce to Israel the ‘good news’ of his birth (Isa 60:6).  They bring their wealth to him… gifts of gold and frankincense… and they rejoice in his birth.

Matthew’s narrative is a template for the course of history.  For though he comes to his own, his own do not receive him.  They, like Herod, wish to kill him, and eventually succeed.  Messiah is first worshipped and adored by gentiles.  It is the nations of the world who today delight in Immanuel and place their gifts of homage at his feet.  Meantime his own people continue to reject him.  Only when the full number of gentiles has been saved will Israel turn again in faith and rejoice in her deliverer (Roms 11).  Then Jew and Gentile together, Israel and the nations of the world, will be part of that city, the New Jerusalem, the bride of Messiah radiant with the ‘glory of God’.

All this is the inscrutable wisdom of God who decides that the last shall be first and the first shall be last.

Let’s make sure that we like the first gentile converts, the wise men, make every effort to find and worship the new-born King for therein lies our joy, our glory, and our salvation.

01
Dec
10

imputed active obedience (IAO), a must or a misdirection? (10)

The Bible and IAO.  My intention in the next few posts is to demonstrate that the Bible locates justification in the infinitely valuable death of Christ and his subsequent resurrection without reference to IAO.  Indeed, I hope to show that IAO is not only absent but does not fit as presented into the biblical contours of redemption accomplished.  For me, as I hope for all, the deciding authority in matters of faith is Scripture.  To quote J R W Stott once more,

‘I take it for granted that we will have a text. For we are not speculators but expositors’

And so to the text…

OT

The OT is God’s picture book for the NT.   What God achieves in Christ in the NT is modelled in OT typology and prophecy long before it happens.  God, in the OT, is preparing his people for the Coming of Christ by giving them categories for thinking that will help them make sense of Christ’s person and work.  As we study the OT we discover:

  • IAO creates a distinction missing from the Mosaic juridical system.  IAO assumes the possibility of being acquitted of guilt or innocent without being simultaneously righteous.  The Mosaic Law knows no such distinction.  In the Law, the person who is condemned is guilty (or wicked) while the person acquitted is innocent (or righteous).

Thus we read in Exodus,

Exod 23:6-7 (ESV)
“You shall not pervert the justice due to your poor in his lawsuit. Keep far from a false charge, and do not kill the innocent and righteous, for I will not acquit the wicked.

Innocence and righteousness are interchangeable.  Different translations use either word.

Deut 25:1 (ESV)

If there is a dispute between men and they come into court and the judges decide between them, acquitting the innocent (some translations say, righteous) and condemning the guilty (some translations say, wicked)

The regular categories before the Law (viewed either in terms of a local Court or in terms of covenantal status Cf. Mal 3:18) are simply ‘righteous’ and ‘wicked’.  Proverbs uses these categories 45 times and the Psalms 13.  For example,

Prov 17:15 (ESV)
He who justifies the wicked and he who condemns the righteous are both alike an abomination to the Lord.  (Cf Prov 18:5)

As George Eldon Ladd notes,  “he is righteous who is judged to be in the right” (Ex. 23:7; Deut. 25:1).

Because Paul works within an OT schema and not that of IAO theologies he has no hesitation in asserting that the person (David in Ps 32) whose sin is forgiven, whose guilt is covered, and against whom the Lord does not count sin, is not simply free of guilt, but is justified, is righteous.

Rom 4:5-8 (ESV)
And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness, just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works:  ​​​​​​​​“Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered;  ​​​​​​​​blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.”

To reiterate, the idea that before the Law one may be acquitted of guilt but not  righteous is foreign to OT discourse.  Such ‘distinctions’, the inventions of IAO theologies, are simply that, inventions.   If the Law acquits, the acquitted is righteous.

  • IAO argues the law-keeping obedience of one may be transferred to another.  The OT Law knows nothing of such a concept.

The Law demanded obedience, however, law-keeping obedience was non-transferable.   The law-keeping of one could not cover, replace, outweigh, balance, cancel, or be imputed against the law-breaking of another.  The Law is clear – the one who does it shall live…if a man does them he shall live by them (Lev 18:5; Ezek 18: 5-9; 20:11,13, 20; Gals 3:11; Roms 10:5).   Law-keeping counted only for the individual law-keeper.  In Ezekiel we read,

Ezek 14:13-14 (ESV)

“Son of man, when a land sins against me by acting faithlessly, and I stretch out my hand against it and break its supply of bread and send famine upon it, and cut off from it man and beast, even if these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they would deliver but their own lives by their righteousness, declares the Lord God.

We look in vain ifor OT vicarious law-keeping.    There is no paradigm for IAO in the Mosaic Covenant.

  • In OT Law, a blood sacrifice, and only a blood sacrifice, could atone for sin, avert judgement, cleanse, bring forgiveness and establish a right relationship with God.

Though a law-keeping life could not act vicariously for another, a death could and did.  The animal sacrificial system educated Israel that atonement for sin lay in blood-sacrifice.  There were five major kinds of offerings in the OC.   Two were non-blood offerings and they could not atone for sin.  Three were blood sacrifices, the burnt offering, sin offering and guilt offering, and these could atone for sin  and establish forgiveness (Lev 1-7).  Atonement for the nation on the annual Day of Atonement involved two goats, one of which had to die.  Atonement, cleansing and acceptance with God depended on a sacrificial death; blood must be shed.  Indeed even inanimate objects, the holy things of the tabernacle, were cleansed by blood.

Lev 16:16 (ESV)
Thus he shall make atonement for the Holy Place, because of the uncleannesses of the people of Israel and because of their transgressions, all their sins. And so he shall do for the tent of meeting, which dwells with them in the midst of their uncleannesses.

Thus we read in Hebrews,

Heb 9:22 (ESV)
Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.

It is hardly surprising that the Hebrew writer when considering the fulfilment of these OT types (especially the Day of Atonement) writes,

Heb 9:23-28 (ESV)
Thus it was necessary for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these rites, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the holy places every year with blood not his own, for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.

The Hebrews commentary is highly relevant to the present discussion.  Note, there is no hint of law-keeping on behalf of another.  It is the sacrificial death that is important.  Certainly, the animal that died had to be ‘without blemish’ (Lev 1:3; Ex 12:5).  It must be without defect to be suitable for sacrifice.  In this it foreshadowed the purity and perfection of Christ.  Christ is an efficient sacrifice because of his life of total obedience; ‘he offered himself without blemish to God‘ (Hebs 9:14).  His life gives value to his death – thus his blood is ‘precious’, the blood of ‘a lamb without blemish or spot’ (1 Pet 1:18-19).  But it is the death that atones.  Indeed, it is the death-obedience of Christ that brings supreme glory to God and to Christ (Jn 13:31).  Thus, it is the blood shed that atones; it cleanses impurity (meets a  holy God’s requirement for definitive sanctification, cultic or sanctuary imagery  Lev 16:16,30) and clears guilt (meets a righteous God’s requirement for justification, legal or law-court imagery   Lev 4:17; 6:13; 10:17; 16:16).  God made crystal clear to Israel that blood atones.

Lev 17:10-14 (ESV)
“If any one of the house of Israel or of the strangers who sojourn among them eats any blood, I will set my face against that person who eats blood and will cut him off from among his people. For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it for you on the altar to make atonement for your souls, for it is the blood that makes atonement by the life [many translations say, 'for the soul']. Therefore I have said to the people of Israel, No person among you shall eat blood, neither shall any stranger who sojourns among you eat blood… For the life of every creature is its blood: its blood is its life. Therefore I have said to the people of Israel, You shall not eat the blood of any creature, for the life of every creature is its blood. Whoever eats it shall be cut off.  (Cf Lev 4:26, 31, 35; Matt 26:28; Hebs 13:12; Roms 3:25; 5:9; Acts 20:28; Rev 1:5; 17:14)

Of course, the animal sacrifices offered under Law couldn’t really satisfy God’s holiness in the face of sin.  The sin offering couldn’t really atone for sin.  It couldn’t cleanse or bring forgiveness and righteous acceptance.  Nor could the national sacrifice on the Day of Atonement purify and make the people righteous (Hebs 10:1-4).  The offerer of the sin offering was ‘righteous’ only until his next sin.  The annual Day of Atonement must happen ‘annually’ for each year fresh sin accumulated requiring fresh atonement.  The OT sacrifices could not bring lasting righteousness.  They could not bring ‘perfection‘.  They were, after all, only the involuntary sacrifices of dumb animals.  Only human flesh could atone for human flesh.  Only a voluntary sacrifice by a sinless ‘seed of Abraham’ could atone for ‘Abraham’s seed’ (Hebs 2:9:19; Hebs 10:1-9).  Only Christ’s sacrifice could bring real, complete, lasting forgiveness and acceptance.  His sacrifice alone could perfectly atone.   In the language of Hebrews,

Heb 10:11-14 (ESV)
And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.

Note the argument well, and that of the Hebrews’ quotation above  (9:23:28).  No mention of IAO.  No hint of  a life transferred through divine book-keeping.  Hebrews simply says by  ‘a single sacrifice for sins he has perfected forever‘ his people.  Observe, they are ‘perfected‘ by this sacrifice.  There is no ‘back to probation’ or ‘forgiven but not righteous’, the brain-child of theological systems which treat the sacrifice of Christ as if it were no more effective than the OT sacrifices (revealing the essentially  legalistic thinking of the system). Scripture declares the sacrifice of Christ ‘perfects‘ those who are sanctified by it.  ‘Perfected‘ in Hebrews means, at the very least, already fully suited to live in the direct presence of God (Hebs 10:19) anticipating ‘the good things to come‘ (Hebs 9:12) in the ‘age to come‘ (Hebs 6:5).

The powerful efficacy of Christ’s sacrifice is repeatedly emphasized.  Christ has, ‘ put away sin by the sacrifice of himself‘.  By this ‘once-for-all‘ new covenant sacrifice ‘sins and iniquities will be remembered no more forever’ (Hebs 8:12; 10:17) and ‘where there is forgiveness of these no further offering for sin is required‘ (Hebs 10:17).  Christ has ‘secured eternal redemption‘ by means of ‘his own blood’ (Hebs 9:12). Redemption secured, note again, not by a life transferred but by blood shed; ‘the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God.‘  Hebrews could scarcely be clearer,

Heb 9:15 (ESV)
Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant.

To argue that without IAO the death of Christ simply puts us back at Adam stacking up fresh sins that will need atoned all over again is to gravely undermine the efficacy of the sacrifice of Christ.  It fails culpably to grasp its infinite worth.  This kind of almost blasphemous misjudgment Paul emphatically did not make.  He bases our righteousness and other blessings we have through the gospel squarely on this sacrifice (Roms 3:21-26).

Rom 5:6-9 (ESV)
For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person-though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die- but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God…

Rom 5:1-2 (ESV)
Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

And so, in the Mosaic Covenant, there was only one way to be ‘right with God’ and that was by blood-sacrifice.  The NT makes clear this sacrifice was ultimately the sacrifice of Christ.  In so claiming, the NT was once more simply building on OT revelation.  Isaiah sees that animal sacrifices  anticipate an ultimate sacrifice, an ultimate ‘sin offering’ for the people; a human sacrifice by God’s ‘servant’.  Isaiah has no doubt that peace with God, healing, forgiveness, and righteousness flow from this vicarious-sin-and-judgement-bearing-sacrificial-death.

Isa 53:5-10 (ESV)
But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed.  ​​​​​​​​All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned-every one-to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.  ​​​​​​​​He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth.  ​​​​​​​​By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people?  ​​​​​​​​And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth.  ​​​​​​​​Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.  Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities.  ​​​​​​​​Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, because he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors.

The ‘servant’s’ death is viewed as a sacrificial sin-offering that atones for the people bringing healing.  The focus is clearly his obedience in death.  He is ‘led as a lamb to the slaughter… sheep…dumb…mouth‘.    It is his suffering in death that occasions his triumph in resurrection (53:10-12).  Right relationship with God (in resurrection) is established by his death, not his life.

Note too the text, ‘by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities.‘   What ‘knowledge’ is referred to that ‘makes many righteous’ (‘accounted’ may be right by is more of an interpretation than translation).  If justification is in view it is hard to see how it can be any other than his ‘knowledge’ of the cross.  The ‘knowledge’ of ‘anguish of soul’ and being ‘acquainted (knowing) with grief’ (v4).  However, at the risk of muddying the waters, it is at least possible that what is being referred to here is not justification but sanctification.  ‘Accounted righteous’ is an interpretation not translation.  It is possible that ‘make righteous’ here means ‘by his knowledge shall my righteous servant instruct many in righteousness’.  That is, the ‘servant‘ who knew the way (and cost) of righteous living experientially would teach it to his followers, those whose iniquities he bore.  This would parallel with Dan 12.

Dan 12:3 (ESV)
And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.

Whatever the precise meaning of v11 the thrust of the chapter seems inescapable; it is from the sacrificial death of the servant that all benefits flow.  It is because of his death that the servant lives and has an ‘offspring’ who are ‘the strong‘ with whom he ‘divides the spoils.’  IAO is again conspicuous by its absence.

An aside…

Perhaps, while reflecting on the OT, this is the moment to briefly discuss the ‘clothes change’ of the High Priest in Zechariah 3, for this is often used to support IAO.

Zech 3:1-5 (ESV)
Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him. And the Lord said to Satan, “The Lord rebuke you, O Satan! The Lord who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is not this a brand plucked from the fire?” Now Joshua was standing before the angel, clothed with filthy garments. And the angel said to those who were standing before him, “Remove the filthy garments from him.” And to him he said, “Behold, I have taken your iniquity away from you, and I will clothe you with pure vestments.” And I said, “Let them put a clean turban on his head.” So they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him with garments. And the angel of the Lord was standing by.

We are told that the ‘taking-off’ is being cleared of guilt by Christ bearing our sins in death and the ‘putting-on’ is being made righteous by being clothed in the active obedience of Christ.  Now, if this model were present in Scripture then possibly this sequence may illustrate it.  However, the sequence by itself certainly does not establish it.  Indeed, the interpretation itself is wooden and makes the symbolism run on all fours.  The evident meaning is simply that God radically changes the standing of the High Priest from being unrighteous to righteous.  No more is required of the symbolism.  Indeed, if we are going to be pedantic and stress the symbolism further then the clothes Joshua is clothed in are new High Priestly clothes ‘of glory and beauty’.  These are robes of glorification.  In the Day of Atonement the High Priest only put on his robes of Glory when atonement was accomplished and he returned to the people bringing salvation (Cf Hebs 9:28).  But I am unsure if this full symbolism is intended.  The main point, I repeat, is simply that God changes the status of Joshua from unclean to clean, unrighteous to righteous; no two stage process is implied.

And so, by this brief glance at the OT, we can see the contours of the ‘type’ prepare us for a Deliverer who will save his people by an atoning blood sacrifice.   There is no suggestion of vicarious law-keeping.  It simply was not an OT category of atonement.

20
Jul
10

God’s righteousness in Isaiah

God’s righteousness is a big theme in the NT.  However, it is not limited to the NT, it is a recurring theme in the OT too.  Isaiah stands out as the prophet who preaches about righteousness.  The word righteousness alone is mentioned over 50 times as a rudimentary concordance check will confirm.

The fundamental problem is that Judah (Israel in the south, the two tribes) who ought to be righteous, are in fact unrighteous. God had given his Law to instruct them in righteousness, however, instead of being a righteous nation they had pursued unrighteousness.  Jerusalem (Zion) had become corrupt and Judah with her, though this did not stop them from being religiously enthusiastic.

Below are a number of texts from Isaiah that show something of the contours of this topic of righteousness in the book.  I should point out that these texts are arranged thematically and do not take into account the nuances of the historical changes  throughout the book.


Israel (Judah) accused of unrighteousness

Isa 5:7 For the vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah are his pleasant planting; and he looked for justice, but behold, bloodshed; for righteousness, but behold, an outcry! ESV

Isa 1:21 How the faithful city has become a whore, she who was full of justice! Righteousness lodged in her, but now murderers. ESV

Isa 59:14,15 Justice is turned back, and righteousness stands far away; for truth has stumbled in the public squares, and uprightness cannot enter. Truth is lacking, and he who departs from evil makes himself a prey.  ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​The Lord saw it, and it displeased him that there was no justice. ESV

Isa 46:12 “Listen to me, you stubborn of heart, you who are far from righteousness: ESV

Isa 58:2 Yet they seek me daily and delight to know my ways, as if they were a nation that did righteousness and did not forsake the judgment of their God; they ask of me righteous judgments; they delight to draw near to God. ESV

Israel was in a sorry state at all sorts of levels.  The people had failed to listen to the commands of the Lord and were reaping the results.

Isa 48:18 Oh that you had paid attention to my commandments! Then your peace would have been like a river, and your righteousness like the waves of the sea; ESV

Yet God is righteous while all others are unrighteous. He cannot be charged with wrong.

Isa 42:19 Whom did he consult, and who made him understand? Who taught him the path of justice, and taught him knowledge, and showed him the way of understanding?

Isa 45:21 Declare and present your case; let them take counsel together! Who told this long ago? Who declared it of old? Was it not I, the Lord? And there is no other god besides me, a righteous God and a Savior; there is none besides me. ESV

Isa 5:16 But the Lord of hosts is exalted in justice, and the Holy God shows himself holy in righteousness. ESV

Isa 45:24 “Only in the Lord, it shall be said of me, are righteousness and strength; to him shall come and be ashamed all who were incensed against him. ESV

If righteousness is to be achieved then God must do it.  God promises that he will accomplish righteousness.

Isa 33:5 The Lord is exalted, for he dwells on high; he will fill Zion with justice and righteousness, ESV

Isa 59:16 He saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no one to intercede; then his own arm brought him salvation, and his righteousness upheld him. ESV

Isa 1:26 And I will restore your judges as at the first, and your counselors as at the beginning. Afterward you shall be called the city of righteousness, the faithful city.” ESV

Isa 45:23 By myself I have sworn; from my mouth has gone out in righteousness a word that shall not return: ‘To me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear allegiance.’ ESV

Isa 46:13 I bring near my righteousness; it is not far off, and my salvation will not delay; I will put salvation in Zion, for Israel my glory.” ESV

Isa 51:5 My righteousness draws near, my salvation has gone out, and my arms will judge the peoples; the coastlands hope for me, and for my arm they wait. ESV

Isa 45:8 “Shower, O heavens, from above, and let the clouds rain down righteousness; let the earth open, that salvation and righteousness may bear fruit; let the earth cause them both to sprout; I the Lord have created it. ESV

Isa 51:4 “Give attention to me, my people, and give ear to me, my nation; for a law will go out from me, and I will set my justice for a light to the peoples. ESV

Isa 28:17 And I will make justice the line, and righteousness the plumb line; and hail will sweep away the refuge of lies, and waters will overwhelm the shelter.” ESV

When God establishes righteousness, he does so righteously and in two ways: he destroys the wicked who oppose him and saves the humble who embrace him.  He does so as a warrior championing justice.  The following texts stress righteousness pursued in judgement.

Isa 1:27-28 Zion shall be redeemed by justice, and those in her who repent, by righteousness.  ​​​​​​​​But rebels and sinners shall be broken together, and those who forsake the Lord shall be consumed. ESV

Isa 59:17 He put on righteousness as a breastplate, and a helmet of salvation on his head; he put on garments of vengeance for clothing, and wrapped himself in zeal as a cloak. ESV

Isa 63:1-6 Who is this who comes from Edom, in crimsoned garments from Bozrah, he who is splendid in his apparel, marching in the greatness of his strength? “It is I, speaking in righteousness, mighty to save.”  Why is your apparel red, and your garments like his who treads in the winepress?  ​​​​​​​​“I have trodden the winepress alone, and from the peoples no one was with me; I trod them in my anger and trampled them in my wrath; their lifeblood spattered on my garments, and stained all my apparel.  ​​​​​​​​For the day of vengeance was in my heart, and my year of redemption had come. I looked, but s there was no one to help.  I was appalled, but there was no one to uphold;  so my own arm brought me salvation,  and my wrath upheld me.   I trampled down the peoples in my anger. I made them drunk in my wrath and I poured out their lifeblood on the earth.” ESV

Isa 10:22 For though your people Israel be as the sand of the sea, only a remnant of them will return. Destruction is decreed, overflowing with righteousness. ESV

Isa 5:13-16 Therefore my people go into exile for lack of knowledge; their honoured men go hungry, and their multitude is parched with thirst. ​​​Therefore Sheol has n enlarged its appetite and opened o its mouth beyond measure, and the nobility of Jerusalem and her multitude will go down, her revelers and he who exults in her. ​​​​Man is humbled, and each one is brought low, and the eyes of the haughty are brought low. But the Lord of hosts is exalted in justice, and the Holy God shows himself holy in righteousness.  ESV

Isa 28:17 And I will make justice the line, and righteousness the plumb line; and hail will sweep away the refuge of lies, and waters will overwhelm the shelter.” ESV

Isa 11:4 with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; and he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked. ESV

However, the greater promise is that God will act in saving righteousness.  He will bring about righteousness in Israel and to the ends of the earth.  What men could not do God will accomplish.

Isa 54:14 In righteousness you shall be established; you shall be far from oppression, for you shall not fear; and from terror, for it shall not come near you. ESV

Isa 62:1 For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not be quiet, until her righteousness goes forth as brightness, and her salvation as a burning torch. ESV

Isa 61:3 to grant to those who mourn in Zion – to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified. ESV

Isa 32:16 Then justice will dwell in the wilderness, and righteousness abide in the fruitful field. ESV

Isa 51:6 Lift up your eyes to the heavens, and look at the earth beneath; for the heavens vanish like smoke, the earth will wear out like a garment, and they who dwell in it will die in like manner; but my salvation will be forever, and my righteousness will never be dismayed. ESV

He will change the status and hearts of men

Isa 1:27 Zion shall be redeemed by justice, and those in her who repent, by righteousness. ESV

He, the Lord, will accomplish it but, paradoxically, he will do it through his royal King, his servant.  And, mysteriously, he shall accomplish it through the death of this servant.  In the NT of course we discover that the Servant-King is Jesus who is God as man.

Isa 32:1 Behold, a king will reign in righteousness, and princes will rule in justice. ESV

Isa 16:5 then a throne will be established in steadfast love, and on it will sit in faithfulness in the tent of David one who judges and seeks justice and is swift to do righteousness.” ESV

Isa 9:7 Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this. ESV

Isa 11:5 Righteousness shall be the belt of his waist, and faithfulness the belt of his loins. ESV

Isa 42:1-4 Behold my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my Spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations.  ​​​​​​​​He will not cry aloud or lift up his voice, or make it heard in the street;  ​​​​​​​​a bruised reed he will not break, and a faintly burning wick he will not quench; he will faithfully bring forth justice.  ​​​​​​​​He will not grow faint or be discouraged till he has established justice in the earth; and the coastlands wait for his law. ESV

Isa 42:6 “I am the Lord; I have called you in righteousness; I will take you by the hand and keep you; I will give you as a covenant for the people, a light for the nations,   ESV

Isa 53:11 Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities. ESV

Isa 60:17 Instead of bronze I will bring gold, and instead of iron I will bring silver; instead of wood, bronze, instead of stones, iron. I will make your overseers peace and your taskmasters righteousness. ESV

He will establish his saving righteousness not only in Israel but among the nations.

Isa 42:1-4 Behold my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my Spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations… He will not grow faint or be discouraged till he has established justice in the earth; and the coastlands wait for his law.

Isa 62:2 The nations shall see your righteousness, and all the kings your glory, and you shall be called by a new name that the mouth of the Lord will give. ESV

Isa 51:4-5 “Give attention to me, my people, and give ear to me, my nation; for a law will go out from me, and I will set my justice for a light to the peoples.  ​​​​​​​​My righteousness draws near, my salvation has gone out, and my arms will judge the peoples; the coastlands hope for me, and for my arm they wait.

Isa 61:11 For as the earth brings forth its sprouts, and as a garden causes what is sown in it to sprout up, so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to sprout up before all the nations. ESV

Isa 51:8 For the moth will eat them up like a garment, and the worm will eat them like wool; but my righteousness will be forever, and my salvation to all generations.” ESV

Isa 26:2 Open the gates, that the righteous nation that keeps faith may enter in. ESV

Meanwhile the righteous wait, recognizing the sin of the nation, longing for and anticipating this overflow of righteousness – a world in which righteousness dwells.  They live by faith, often struggling, always rejoicing, waiting for God to fulfil his salvation.

Isa 64:6 We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.

Isa 3:10 Tell the righteous that it shall be well with them, for they shall eat the fruit of their deeds. ESV

Isa 26:9 My soul yearns for you in the night; my spirit within me earnestly seeks you. For when your judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness. ESV

Isa 59:9 Therefore justice is far from us, and righteousness does not overtake us; we hope for light, and behold, darkness, and for brightness, but we walk in gloom. ESV

Isa 56:1 Thus says the Lord: “Keep justice, and do righteousness, for soon my salvation will come, and my deliverance be revealed. ESV

Isa 61:10 I will greatly rejoice in the Lord; my soul shall exult in my God, for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. ESV

Isa 64:5 You meet him who joyfully works righteousness, those who remember you in your ways. Behold, you were angry, and we sinned; in our sins we have been a long time, and shall we be saved? ESV

Isa 51:7 “Listen to me, you who know righteousness, the people in whose heart is my law; fear not the reproach of man, nor be dismayed at their revilings. ESV

Isa 30:18 Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the Lord is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him.

It is against a background like this that we must read and understand Romans 1:16,17

Rom 1:16-17 (ESV)
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”




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The Cave promotes the Christian Gospel by interacting with Christian faith and practice from a conservative evangelical perspective.

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