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. Isaiah 1:27-28
My husband and I love vacationing in Kauai. Our favorite activity is exploring hidden beaches. When people think of Hawaii, they might picture long sandy beaches lined with palm trees that butt up against beautiful resorts. But in Kauai there’s very few beaches like that. In fact, part of the adventure is just finding the hidden turnoff from the highway that will take you to the trailhead down to the beach. Many of the beaches sit far below the volcanic cliffs of Kauai. Once you park you then need to search for a tiny indication you have found the trailhead. And then the adventure really starts.
On one such adventure I was laden down with my beach chair on my back and our small cooler. The narrow, dirt trail hugged the cliff. And someone had secured a weathered rope in the most precarious places. I kept my eyes down, for the most part, keeping watch for pesky roots and vines that would trip me up. I kept hold of the safety rope, until I didn’t. In a flash I found myself hanging off the side of the cliff – held up from sure death by my beach chair which had snagged on a few branches. I had taken my eyes of the sure path laid out in front of me – distracted by the spectacular scenery.
I was like a helpless turtle on my back with waves crashing on the deadly rocks below. I yelled to my husband, who was a few feet ahead of me. He scrambled to me and with a lot of pulling, untangling and the blessing of God I was rescued.
God’s promised justice, mentioned more than 40 times in the book of Isaiah, requires us to do what I had failed to do on that hike – to keep my eyes fixed on the savior with a firm grip on Him. But thank God He also gives us mercy when we fail.
Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him! Isaiah 30:18
You notice that both these verses require that agreement, the covenant? Those who repent will receive a positive justice outcome. Those who wait for Him will be blessed with compassion. When I finally made my way safely back onto the path that day, I thanked God for saving me. And I promised God that I would be more careful. I would hold on tightly to the safety rope as the path narrowed and I’d be watchful of tripping hazards.
The book of Isaiah starts almost like a trial. It describes in detail the failings of the Israelites. The supposed believers had taken their eyes off God and were living outside His covenant. They sat accused of murder, robbery, idolatry, and corruption. They attended temple and brought their sacrifices, all the while leading hypocritical lives. And so, they were warned of punishment, of judgement.
One only needs to turn on the news for a few minutes to see the moral corruption throughout the current world. Thankfully, God has built a safety rope for us. Not with which to hang ourselves, but rather to grasp hold of and pull us back onto the path.
I was certainly humbled on that cliff in Kauai. I got a bit cocky with thinking I knew the path well enough to not pay full attention. God decided He still had some work for me to do.
But what about those “evil doers?” When is God’s justice raining down on them? He promises they will be consumed by His justice. When we keep our focus squarely and firmly on God, we can have faith that on God’s time, justice will be done. And, we can thank Him each and every time we fail Him yet are not judged.
I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and wages war. Revelation 19:1
God is waging a war against evil we cannot see. His justice is at work right now. And the final judgement is coming. I heard a well-known evangelist once make the statement: “Imagine the looks on the people’s faces when Jesus comes back – and He is coming back. All the people that tried to eliminate Jesus from the world about to face justice.”
None of us deserve to be free from God’s promised justice and judgement. His mercy and love provide that rope for us to grasp when we pray for forgiveness — when we fall down on our knees and say to Him, “Have mercy on me, exalted One!”