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Abraham pleaded for the fate of Sodom and asked a compelling question of God. He said, “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just?” (Genesis 18.25).
More than any other prophet, Isaiah identified God’s nature with the words “righteousness and justice.” If Isaiah were to answer Abraham’s question, he would affirm that without question the Judge of all the earth is completely just.
Injustice and oppression is a feature of the world’s system that is typified by Babylon.
You felt secure in your wickedness;
you said, “No one sees me.”
Your wisdom and your knowledge
led you astray,
and you said in your heart,
“I am, and there is no one besides me.” (Isaiah 47.10)
Babylonian behavior believes that there will be no reckoning for harmful behavior. Its security is in the trust that no judge will call them to account or pay attention to their actions.
According to http://www.humanrightsfirst.org, there are nearly 29 million persons trapped in modern-day slavery. Former President Obama stated the impact of this phenomenon quite well.
“It ought to concern every person, because it is a debasement of our common humanity. It ought to concern every community, because it tears at our social fabric. It ought to concern every business, because it distorts markets. It ought to concern every nation, because it endangers public health and fuels violence and organized crime. I’m talking about the injustice, the outrage, of human trafficking, which must be called by its true name – – modern slavery” (President Barack Obama, September 25, 2012).
The offenders of this crime against society may feel free to engage in the behavior because they believe there will be no accounting for their actions. They live lives of pleasure, power, and wealth at the expense of God’s beloved creatures.
I hear the voice of Abraham asking if the Judge of all the earth will act with justice for this massive crime. Isaiah answers with a resounding “Yes.”
Babylon was a powerful nation and the Babylonian spirit is a powerful influence in the world. As powerful as is Babylon, it is no match for the all-powerful God. There will be accounting for injustice either in this life or the one to follow.
But evil shall come upon you,
which you cannot charm away;
disaster shall fall upon you,
which you will not be able to ward off;
and ruin shall come on you suddenly,
of which you know nothing. (Isaiah 47.11)
How many tyrants, mobsters, and warlords have encountered disaster and ruin? God’s word is true for the well-known and lesser-known persons who have used their power to oppress the vulnerable.
Paul wrote, “Do not be deceived; God is not mocked, for you reap whatever you sow.
“If you sow to your own flesh, you will reap corruption from the flesh; but if you sow to the Spirit, you will reap eternal life from the Spirit” (Galatians 6.7-8).
The Psalm writer pictures the end of these powerful tyrants.
The wicked are not so,
but are like chaff that the wind drives away.
Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. (Psalm 1.4-5)
The powerful rely on their might, but God reveals the fact they are no more significant than chaff, the waste product of wheat.
Idols Can’t Save
Even if people deny the existence of the One True God, they still rely on something. Substitutes for God may be self-sufficiency, personal wealth, beauty, physical strength, or some similar object of trust.
The nation of Babylon in Isaiah’s day trusted idols and the magic of their priests. God’s message to people who serve substitutes for God is this:
— Verse 12 – Stand fast in your enchantments
and your many sorceries,
Perhaps you may inspire terror.
— Verse 14 – See, they are like stubble,
the fire consumes them;
they cannot deliver themselves
from the power of the flame.
No coal for warming oneself is this,
no fire to sit before!
— Verse 15 – Such to you are those with whom you have labored,
who have trafficked with you from your youth;
There is no one to save you.
What may look like power is actually chaff in the presence of God. No substitute for God can stand before the Judge of all the earth.
Isaiah wrote these words to build the faith of God’s people. Whether in 700 B.C. or 2021, we need to know that God is the Judge of all the earth. There will be an accounting for injustice and oppression. This fact should bring us a measure of comfort.
As we consider a response to the message of Isaiah 47, Micah’s admonition is excellent counsel.
He has told you, O mortal, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6.8)
About This Blog
Rudy Ross and I produce a daily video of these blog articles on the Bob Spradling YouTube channel. Rudy is Jewish, a Christian, and an excellent Bible student. The videos present insights from a dialogue with the two of us.
I am indebted to Dr. John Oswalt, who has written an excellent two-volume commentary on Isaiah for insights into the Book of Isaiah.
Please email your prayer requests to me at email@example.com or private message me on Facebook. The Maywood Baptist Church prayer team will pray for you.