In today’s lesson, God chastises the wicked while promising peace to the repentant.
Isaiah Chapter 57
Lessons from the text
No Peace for the Wicked
God says that there is no peace for the wicked. Choosing a life separated from God, they are missing the joy and peace that God grants to the believer. We were created for fellowship with God, designed to be under His protection, and ordained to serve and worship Him. The wicked are missing these aspects of life, thus leaving an emptiness in their soul.
They weary themselves trying to fill it, or altogether ignore it, by building a life for themselves. They completely neglect the patient pleading of their Creator and choose to live as they please. In the end, the result is disastrous; they will have to live out the consequence for their choice to abandon God by being eternally separated from Him.
Life without God, what’s so bad about that?
If God is light, love, peace, joy, and salvation, and He is removed from you, what do you have left? Darkness, hatred, turmoil, sorrow, and torture. Such is why hell is described by Jesus as place of “weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Mt. 22:13, 25:30). With God goes all that is good and desirable. Without Him you have nothing. Worse, you are left with all the other outcasts, not humans, but satan and his angels. You don’t want to spend eternity with the devil.
In conclusion, while on earth the wicked have no peace because they cannot fill the emptiness in their souls, and in the afterlife they have no peace because they will be eternally separated from all that is good.
Verse by Verse Commentary
1-2 Continuing from chapter 56, God describes the attitudes of the wicked. The people are having too much “fun” to recognize the threat that is surrounding them; God is taking away, or calling into death, His righteous to spare them from the punishment that is coming against the wicked.
Paul says that the born-again believer is not appointed to wrath (I Thes. 5:9). God will do what is necessary to spare His people from being oppressed by evil. The world does not understand God’s action because it is death; to the world, dying is losing, but to the believer it is going home to live in restful peace forever with the Lord.
3-7 God pleads with the wicked. He tries to make them consider their choices so that they can recognize that they are in the wrong. He asks questions because He wants the wicked to come to the realization of their state on their own. God does not force people to repentance; He draws them.
God knows people’s specific sins. Even if one has not acknowledged Him as God, He is still sovereign and all-knowing. His goal is to make one aware of one’s decisions, to enact the conscience to do its job to make one aware of one’s sins. The Jews of Isaiah’s day had fallen so far from God that they not only offered sacrifices to other gods, but they also sacrificed their children. “Passing through the fire” is not a symbolic wave; it is literally burning one’s child on an altar to a god (Deut. 18:10, II Ki. 17:17, Eze. 16:21). Anyone with common sense should be able to recognize that killing a child is wrong, but the wicked are so blinded that they cannot see their actions as wrong. Such is why God pleads with them and gives them space to repent.
8 God likens idolatry to adultery. He is one’s God. He enters into a covenant relationship with one when one accepts Him as Lord in one’s life. God views that covenant like a marital vow; to dwell one with another in faithfulness throughout all of each other’s lives. God always maintains His end of the vow. Humans, however, stray away and put other loves in their lives.
Instead of having one husband, God, people tend to enlarge their bed to accommodated multiple husbands, which are idols. Here the reference is to false gods; in modern times the idols are more often things like social status, jobs, science, monetary gain, or pleasure.
9 When committing adultery against God, one beautifies oneself. Thinking oneself elevated enough to sleep with the highest earthly authority, one is actually debased into hell. As Jesus says, “whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased” (Mt. 23:12).
10-11 Life without God is wearisome. One is dependent on oneself for rejuvenation, peace, and strength. After so long, one may become so comfortable with one’s circumstances, having built a life for oneself, that one no longer feels the sorrow of being without God; one can grow numb emotionally, morally, and spiritually.
Committing a sin once may cause great fear, but the more one sins, the more of a habit and lifestyle it becomes and the less one fears the consequence; sin becomes routine and the conscience becomes numb towards it. That is, when one switches from lying to being a liar, one is no longer grieved about lying.
12 Even if one has built a life around sin, it will not prosper. God is righteous. Anything that is not righteous will not stand when God declares one’s works. Whatever righteousness one thinks one has, if it is not true righteousness it will not help one stand justified before God.
13-14 The person who trusts in himself and others will be sorely disappointed in times of judgment. Only God can deliver the soul from death and grant everlasting life. Those who trust in Him will inherit the land and the opportunity to work to remove the stumbling block that prevents the wicked from coming to God. On stumbling block, see Ezekiel 3:20, 14:3; Romans 14:13; I Corinthians 1:23; I Peter 2:8.
15 Those who live in heaven are the ones who in this life demonstrate humility and repentance. Miriam Webster defines contrite as “feeling or showing sorrow and remorse for a sin or shortcoming.” The wicked of the previous verses are unable to be contrite because they are not grieved by their sins.
16-19 These verses have two applications. First, it is a promise of restoration to the nation Israel. Despite the sins of idolatry and covetousness, God will intervene and redeem His people. He partially fulfilled this with the coming of Christ, but Israel will not be completely redeemed until it is restored to obedience to God. This will occur when the nation is converted and Jesus reigns in Jerusalem.
Second, it is a promise to the repentant of forgiveness and peace. Even though God sees one’s sins and is angry, He also sees the humbleness and brokenness of the souls He has made. God honors the person who acknowledges his shortcomings before Him.
To fail before God is to surrender to Him and recognize that nothing one has done or could do can deliver one from the justified wrath of God against one for one’s sins. When one puts oneself at the mercy of God, He will honor one’s repentance with forgiveness, spiritual healing, and the promise of eternal peace in one’s soul.
20-21 Whereas the repentant are promised peace, the wicked are promised the lack of peace. God enables one to remain calm and peaceful even in the most challenging situations. The wicked may have the appearance of peace, but their souls are like a trouble sea that cannot find rest.
Thank you for your faithfulness in studying God’s word.
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