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The word, “scoffer” appears to the modern reader to be a moderate expression of disapproval when in fact it is the strongest word in the Hebrew Bible to describe wickedness.
Not only does the “scoffer” choose the wrong way, but this person adds to wrongdoing by mocking the right way. A scoffer is misled and delights to mislead others.
When scoffers are in places of authority, they influence their followers to follow their advice and behavior.
— Instead of believing in God who acts in this world, these cynical individuals believe that they must take all issues into their own hands.
They don’t trust God to act and lead others to do the same.
— Scoffers don’t believe that God will hold them accountable for their actions.
The writer of the Psalms accurately described the thoughts of the scoffer.
For the wicked boast of the desires of their heart,
those greedy for gain curse and renounce the Lord.
In the pride of their countenance the wicked say, “God will not seek it out”;
all their thoughts are, “There is no God.” (Psalm 10.3-4)
The actions and attitudes of the scoffer give license for oppression, violence, and abuse to run rampant throughout society.
God cannot allow the behavior of scoffers and their like to prevail. He must bring an end to their influence for the sake of his beloved creation.
A Stop to the Scoffers
Isaiah had the unpleasant job of declaring God’s judgment on the leadership of Jerusalem.
Therefore hear the word of the Lord, you scoffers
who rule this people in Jerusalem.
Because you have said, “We have made a covenant with death,
and with Sheol we have an agreement;
when the overwhelming scourge passes through
it will not come to us;
for we have made lies our refuge,
and in falsehood we have taken shelter.” (Isaiah 28.14-15)
When leaders turn from God, they don’t turn to nothing; they turn to any idea that seems to fit their schemes.
God cannot be manipulated to fulfill our interests. The cynical scoffers turn away from God and rely on lies and falsehood for guidance.
The phrase “covenant with death” may have been Isaiah’s sarcastic picture of the kind of behavior that eliminates God from the equation and replaces him with lies.
It is a recipe for disaster when educational, political, business, entertainment, and religious institutions no longer believe that God is active in the world and that self-sufficiency is the only answer.
When the major thought leaders and decision-makers of a nation believe there will be no accountability for their actions, the nation has made a “covenant with death.”
God loves people with everlasting love. God’s love will not allow the destructive behavior of scoffers to prevail. He acts on behalf of his beloved creation.
Therefore thus says the Lord God,
See, I am laying in Zion a foundation stone,
a tested stone,
a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation:
“One who trusts will not panic.”
And I will make justice the line,
and righteousness the plummet;
hail will sweep away the refuge of lies,
and waters will overwhelm the shelter. (Isaiah 28.16-17)
People familiar with the New Testament will recognize Jesus as the cornerstone who is the exact opposite of the scoffer.
We can trust Jesus because he is just and righteous. These two adjectives are used to describe God’s character in Isaiah more than any other.
Just like a carpenter uses a plumb line to make sure a structure is properly aligned, every action of humans is measured by the character of Jesus. As we read the life and teaching of Jesus, we will know God’s standard for life.
Scoffers lie to themselves and their followers. The truth is that God is active in the world and can be trusted to act on our behalf.
There is accountability and all humans will be held accountable for their actions.
The standard of judgment is the righteousness and justice of Jesus Christ.
The justice and righteousness is the model for all persons who desire leadership. There is no higher aspiration than for humans to live a Jesus-kind-of-life.
An Honest Look
Let’s think seriously about the characteristics of a scoffer and the plumb line of Jesus’ character. Here are some self-examination questions.
— Do I believe that God is active in the world today? Do my daily actions reveal a reliance on God for guidance?
— Do I believe that I will be held accountable before God for the way I relate to other people? Does this belief shape how I act toward poor, vulnerable, immigrants, and aged persons?
— Do I have a habit of reading about Jesus’ teaching and ministry in the Gospels so I will be able to live a life like his?
How we answer these questions will determine whether we will be overcome by the lies of the scoffers or the truth of Jesus.
About This Blog
Rudy Ross is an excellent student of Isaiah. Rudy and I have a video you can see on the Bob Spradling YouTube Chanel.
Rudy will bring a different dimension to Isaiah than what is in my blog. I hope you will check out and enjoy my interviews with him.
I am indebted to a book by Dr. John Oswalt on Isaiah for his insights into this powerful book.
If you have a prayer request, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or private message me on Facebook. The Maywood Baptist prayer team will pray for you.