Isaiah 3-4, 1 Peter 1
Tell the godly that all will be well for them. They will enjoy the rich reward they have earned! – Isaiah 3:10 NLT
The opening chapters of the book of Isaiah are filled with God’s stinging condemnation of the people of Israel. Through His prophet, Isaiah, God predicts the judgments He is bringing for their unfaithfulness. He outlines their sins in great detail. “For Jerusalem has stumbled, and Judah has fallen, because their speech and their deeds are against the Lord, defying his glorious presence” (Isaiah 3:8 ESV). Their words and actions were so wicked, it was as if they didn’t even believe that God existed. Their behavior seemed to deny the very presence of God. They were marked by pride and a lack of shame. So God was bringing judgment. But in the midst of all of God’s righteous anger and accusations of unfaithfulness, He addresses the righteous or godly. He indicates that there remained a faithful remnant who would continue to honor and worship Him. And He tells them not to worry – that it will be well with them. They will eat the fruit of their deeds. In other words, their faithfulness in the midst of all the unfaithfulness will be rewarded. These people would have to go through the same judgment as everyone else. They would have to endure the same circumstances as the rest of the nation of Judah, but God would be with them. He would somehow reward them for remaining faithful to Him.
What does this passage reveal about God?
Our God is fully aware of what is going on in our hearts – at all times. He knows who is faithful and who is not. While it would be easy to draw the conclusion that everyone in Judah was wicked and apostate, God indicates that there are still a few who have not forsaken Him. There was still a righteous remnant who had remained faithful to God and who were trying to stay morally and religiously pure in the midst of the rampant sin and idolatry that was taking place all around them. God is always right in what He does. He never punished unfairly or causes the innocent to suffer unjustly. One of the indictments He had against the people of Judah was their abuse of the poor and needy. He accused the rulers and elders, saying, “You have ruined Israel, my vineyard. Your houses are filled with things stolen from the poor. How dare you crush my people, grinding the faces of the poor into the dust?” (Isaiah 3:14-15 NLT). God was not blind to the injustices. He was not oblivious to the plight of the poor or the lonely condition of the faithful few who were trying to their belief in God alive while surrounded by runaway sin and moral decay. God was watching. He was fully aware of all that was going on. And the same is true in our day.
What does this passage reveal about man?
God has always preserved a faithful remnant. There have always been a faithful few in all generations who have refused to turn their back on God. The temptation is to believe that we are all alone, that no one else is faithful, but us. The prophet Elijah faced that problem. He reached a point in his life and ministry when he believed he was the last man standing. After having witnessed a powerful miracle by God, and having personally defeated the prophets of Baal, Elijah received a death threat from Queen Jezebel. This bad news caused him to run for his life. Then, when confronted by God, he answered, ““I have been very jealous for the Lord, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away” (1 Kings 19:10 ESV). He was all alone. He was the only one left who remained faithful to God. Or so he thought. But God corrected his thinking, saying, “Yet I will leave seven thousand in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him” (1 Kings 19:18 ESV). Elijah was not alone. There were others who shared his love for God and his desire to serve Him alone. God had preserved a remnant. But Elijah needed to be reminded that, for all his claims of belief and faith in God, for all his efforts on behalf of God, he had stopped placing His hope in God. He had let his circumstances dictate his conclusions about life and about God’s ability to intervene in his situation.
That small remnant of faithful Jews living in Judah had no idea what was going to happen. They could not argue with God regarding His assessment of their nation. They were fully aware of the sins taking place all around them. And they were not completely innocent themselves. While they were comparatively faithful compared to the majority of their peers, they were still sinful. They knew God was just in His pronouncement of judgment. But they didn’t know what the future held for them. They were going to have to continue to trust God.
How would I apply what I’ve read to my own life?
Peter told the believers living in his day the same thing. They were living in a time of great persecution and difficulty. These relatively new believers found themselves facing all kinds of opposition. But Peter reminds them to keep their eyes focused on their future hope. He wanted them to remain faithful to God in the midst of all their difficulties. They were going to be tempted to take a look at their current conditions and give up. But Peter told them to look up. “Now we live with great expectation, and we have a priceless inheritance—an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay. And through your faith, God is protecting you by his power until you receive this salvation, which is ready to be revealed on the last day for all to see” (1 Peter 1:3-5 NLT). Something greater was coming. God was going to preserve them through their current difficulties because He had promised them something better in the future. Peter went on to tell them, “There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world” (1 Peter 1:6-7 NLT). The key to surviving the trials of life was to keep their hope focused on the faithfulness of God. And in the meantime to live their lives according to the reality of their future destiny. Peter told them, “So you must live in reverent fear of him during your time here as ‘temporary residents’” (1 Peter 1:17 NLT). They were to continue to live holy, set apart lives. Their future hope was to have a present reality to it. Their faith in God’s promise of future glorification was to be the impetus for their present conduct. “Through Christ you have come to trust in God. And you have placed your faith and hope in God because he raised Christ from the dead and gave him great glory” (1 Peter 1:21 NLT). Because Jesus died and was raised again, we can know that our future hope is secure – no matter what we see happening around us. The trials of this life test the purity of our faith. When things get tough, do we give up or do we look up? When difficulties come, do we focus on our circumstances or turn our eyes to our faithful, promise-keeping God?
Father, help me to keep my eyes focused on You. Don’t let me get distracted by the temporary trials of this world. The troubles of this life simply test where my hope and allegiances lie. While this world will constantly disappoint me, You never will. And while You may delay in bringing about Your future reward, help me not to grow weary or to give up. May I live with my eyes firmly focused on the hope that is yet to come. Amen
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men