1 See, the LORD is going to lay waste the earth
and devastate it;
he will ruin its face
and scatter its inhabitants-
2 it will be the same
for priest as for people,
for master as for servant,
for mistress as for maid,
for seller as for buyer,
for borrower as for lender,
for debtor as for creditor.
Justice & Grace
What follows in the next few chapters of Isaiah is a description of God’s wrath and destruction over the earth, and how he will humble the oppressor and reveler, and tend to the oppressed and poor. A central idea of these chapter is destruction, this absolute and total desolation that will fall, and how God uses this desolation to accomplish what ultimately are his purposes. As shocking as this is, I think this is a good reminder not to dilute our concept of God.
What strikes me about the opening passage of chapter 24 is verse 2, where Isaiah specifically details how no one will be exempt from this destruction, no matter their status, or wealth, or accomplishments. All will suffer the consequences for their actions, without exception. This is the root of justice, that it falls impartially without regard to status or wealth, that both the poor and rich can be vindicated through it.
(This immediately reminds me of the current situation with Roman Polanski, how there has been an outcry in the artistic community that he was arrested for raping a 13 year-old, outrage that the authorities should prosecute a man so distinguished for a crime so dated. But if justice is truly to be fair, it matters not if the crime or criminal is old, nor that the criminal has added value to the community – he should still pay the price for his crime.)
There are two insights that I take away from this: first, that no talent or resource will protect me from the judgment of God. I could be the richest, smartest, most successful person in all of history, but the day I die, I am exactly like everyone else: defenseless before God’s judgment. So don’t rely on wealth, or education, or position to save you – all of those things have a shelf life that expires the day that you do, no exceptions.
The second insight is that the judgment of God sheds such clear light on the mercy of God through Jesus Christ. Humanity’s crimes cry out for justice and punishment…all laid upon the shoulders of Jesus. In the same way that justice is supposed to be afforded to everyone, no matter their background or status, grace is afforded to us, completely unearned and undeserved. So before we see God as this divine being hammering us from the skies, we should remember that the hammer fell most heavily upon his own Son, and not for the sake of His sins…but our’s.
1. Is there anything in your life that you feel is supposed to protect you from hardship or difficulty? Your education, job, your spouse or significant other? Has that thing ever failed you before?
2. What is one unfair or unjust situation in the world that you feel really burdened by? How can you begin to pursue and advocate justice for this situation?