In each of these chapters so far Isaiah first presented the problem, then described a glorious time when one day God will reign in righteousness and justice, when God’s people will respond to the Lord in faith and when all that is wrong will be put right.
Now once again, Isaiah wheeled back to that theme of God’s glorious reign.
Components of Belief
Years ago, when I read J. P. Moreland’s book, Love God with All Your Mind, what really stuck with me was his exploration of the components of belief. The kind of belief and faith the scriptures speak of begins with the content of what we believe, moves to the consent of our hearts to receive the truth of that content, and the commitment of our wills to pledge faith to the facts of the Gospel and to God.
But Moreland adds two more components. One component has to do with how our minds can be changed – transformed, really – by our willingness to approach an issue or a perspective with the openness of a student. To study with humility, allowing the work of the Spirit to illumine our thoughts and feelings.
The second component has to do with plausibility.
Plausibility of a Belief
When you and I are considering a certain belief, we want to see how that belief stands in terms of what our culture considers plausible. Because the truth is, if the culture around us thinks something is implausible, it will be very difficult for us to believe it, either. On the other hand, if our surrounding culture thinks something is highly plausible, there is a good chance we will believe it, too. People are deeply impressionable, no matter how independent-minded we imagine ourselves to be.
But what cultures are influencing us?
Whatever communities we are most deeply connected to will be the ones that influences us most, whether that be our family, the institutions we belong to, the people we surround ourselves with, or the nation we live in.
When we examine our beliefs, we look at them through the lens of our community’s culture. Being self- aware is vital in this exercise, because we are all far more enculturated than we realize. Even the language we speak, and the foods we eat influence how we interpret the world around us.
The world’s cultures, rich and vibrant as they are, often do not align with God. We may be given advice and live by standards that are not in keeping with God’s character and values. We may unknowingly have been living by philosophies that do not give credence to God. Even in such places that claim a “Judeo-Christian” ethic often are not that at all, but rather an echo or a remnant of the biblical values of love, humility, generosity, the fruit of the Spirit and the character of Christ.
We could also choose to examine our beliefs through the lens of God’s culture, through the stories of God and people in the Bible, through the divine action of God’s Holy Spirit, and through God’s activity in the lives of believers today.
Reign in Righteousness
Once you and I are ready to examine our paradigms, our beliefs, in light of the scriptures, we discover that the Lord is righteous and just.
See, a king will reign in righteousness,Isaiah 32:1 (NRSV)
and princes will rule with justice.
We discover that God takes care of us in every storm and knows just what we need.
Each will be like a hiding place from the wind,Isaiah 32:2 (NRSV)
a covert from the tempest,
like streams of water in a dry place,
like the shade of a great rock in a weary land.
When you and I start living by faith, we start reviewing what we believe by God’s culture, and that will open us to so much understanding!
Then the eyes of those who have sight will not be closed,Isaiah 32:3-4 (NRSV)
and the ears of those who have hearing will listen.
The minds of the rash will have good judgment,
and the tongues of stammerers will speak readily and distinctly.
You and I will discover we do not admire the world’s solutions, and the world’s experts anymore. We will see them for what they are, perhaps reasonable in many instances, perhaps wise, perhaps practical. But unless God is in them, lacking in supernatural power and the ability to keep us on the trajectory of faith.
The villainies of villains are evil;Isaiah 32:7-8 (NRSV)
they devise wicked devices
to ruin the poor with lying words,
even when the plea of the needy is right.
But those who are noble plan noble things,
and by noble things they stand.
Isaiah knew there was only one year left before the Assyrian army would be at the gates of Jerusalem. He wanted the people to repent now, to start trusting God now, to be ready now for what was coming.
Rise up, you women who are at ease, hear my voice;Isaiah 32:9-10 (NRSV)
you complacent daughters, listen to my speech.
In little more than a year
you will shudder, you complacent ones,
for the vintage will fail;
the fruit harvest will not come.
Women of antiquity were the ones who led the triumphal processions with singing and timbrels, and they were also the ones who led the ululations of grief and mourning. Often, it was the loud cries of the women which alerted the village of a death. Then all would come to that family with succor and strong help to bury their beloved ones.
Isaiah now called for the women of Judah to tremble and shudder in their lamentations, to put on the sackcloth of contrition. What the prophet foresaw was reason for agonized wails.
for the pleasant fields,Isaiah 32:12-15 (NRSV)
for the fruitful vine,
for the soil of my people
growing up in thorns and briers,
yes, for all the joyous houses
in the jubilant city.
For the palace will be forsaken,
the populous city deserted;
the hill and the watchtower
will become dens forever.
And keep keening your anguished cries of repentance,
Until a spirit from on high is poured out on us,Isaiah said, 32:15 (NRSV)
and the wilderness becomes a fruitful field,
and the fruitful field is deemed a forest.
It might not happen immediately. But God’s promise was still sure. In a life of obedience to the righteous king, God would bring about restoration on every level.
God would make their lives so fruitful even the desert places would be lush.
Then justice will dwell in the wildernessIsaiah 32:16-20 (NRSV)
and righteousness abide in the fruitful field.
The effect of righteousness will be peace,
and the result of righteousness, quietness and trust forever.
My people will abide in a peaceful habitation,
in secure dwellings, and in quiet resting places.
The forest will disappear completely,
and the city will be utterly laid low.
Happy will you be who sow beside every stream,
who let the ox and the donkey range freely.
God would give quietness, security and a resting place, if only the people would rouse themselves from their complacency, their lives of deceptive ease.
The word “peace” is the Hebrew שָׁלוֹם | šālōm, a word meaning
These are the blessings God desires for us when the Lord brings righteousness, justice, and peace.
All of us have experienced being in the desert places. Perhaps that is where you are right now. What act of repentance is God calling of you in order to make you ready for the outpouring of God’s Spirit in your desert place to bring back life?