Summary: People reach out in crisis. Those who reach out to God find that He comes near. God’s nearness has its effects upon the saved & the sinner alike.
ISAIAH 33: 13-17
A FUTURE FOR THE FAITHFUL
God here promises to come near and deliver His people from the destruction of their enemies. This great deliverance is not enacted from afar but by Him coming near in authority and power and making Himself known. This presence of Yahweh has residual effects. It has effects upon the righteous as well as the unrighteous.
When in a crisis dependance upon the way of the world leads to disaster. Reliance upon the Lord allows the Lord to replace the way of the world with His way. The cleansing necessary to live in His holy presence requires major purification before one walks in His righteous ways. As always though for those who walk with God come blessings and benefits that more that compensate for the pain of the cleansing, healing and restoration process.
I. THE CALL TO RIGHTEOUSNESS, 13-14.
II. THE CONDITIONS OF RIGHTEOUSNESS, 15.
III. THE COMPENSATIONS OF RIGHTEOUSNESS, 16-17.
(13) "You who are far away, hear what I have done; And you who are near, acknowledge My might."
Sooner or later everyone, no matter how far away, will hear of God’s greatness. He is a God of not only amazing acts but of great purity and calls one and all to hear and respond. Yet those who are near, those who live among God’s people, have had opportunity to see the arm and the hand of the Lord revealed in human events. God now calls upon them to admit, to acknowledge, that it is He who brought about great deliverance and not their own hand or the hand of man.
Familiarity does breed contempt. Frequently the passion and devotion of one who has recently heard and believed in Christ puts to shame some of us who have know Him for years. It was at least as necessary for God’s people to recognize His working if anyone else could. (Oswalt, Isaiah, 599). Their acknowledgment should not only be seen in giving Him praise and glory, but in surrendering of their life to live in His holy, or straight and narrow way.
Whoever hears what God has done, whether near or afar off, let them acknowledge His might, that it is irresistible, and that He does all good things. Those are very foolish who hear what God has done and yet will not acknowledge Him.
Verse14 tells how should we acknowledge God’s might. Sinners in Zion are terrified; Trembling has seized the godless. "Who among us can live with the consuming fire? Who among us can live with continual burning?"
The result of a realistic recognition of God and His power will be terror. This is not to say that all persons must be terrified into trusting God. But it is to say that unless people have come at some point to a recognition of who God is. It is a recognition of God’s absolute otherness- difference- from themselves. Those who do not are very likely to devalue His grace, and their commitment is likely to be minimal at best.
This is what had happened in Judah. They were taking God for granted. They were sinners, no longer aiming solely at God’s target (Rom. 3:23), or following God’s way. They defiled the promise land by living in ways inconsistent with God’s character (24:5). They were hypocrites who appear pious to the outward world but in their daily lives ignored God.
As a result, when God’s fire would be revealed against His enemies, the godless, God’s careless people would tremble too, because they are no more able to endure that fiery embrace than the godless were able to endure it. Trembling recognition is the beginning of hope for the believing community. It is not enough for the Assyrians or our enemies to recognize God’s greatness. It is much more important for Zion, the church, God’s people to recognize it. When God’s fire falls His people must be ready (31:9) to dwell in that fire.
[Sojourn, translated live, conveys the idea that the dweller is not the host but the guest. The environment is not one’s former or native place. (Oswalt, Isaiah, 599).] The issue is what will it take to endure in an environment as purifying as endless fire in order to not simply be protected and cared for by God but to be aflame with God Himself?
Eternal (everlasting) indicates that this fire of God is not a passing thing, because it is out of His very essence. There is no hope that after awhile the flame will die down. He is flame-consuming the fallenness of man. See Deut. 4:24; 9:3; Heb. 12:29.
What kind of change must a human being undergo to live with God? It is not a change of essence but a change of character. Our character (holy to unholy) is what separates us from God and not our essence (infinite to finite). If we are to live with God, we must share His character. That restoration is not an easy suffering free process.