Isaiah 32:1-20

Practicing justice. When you think of the Holy Spirit empowering believers, what comes to mind? Extraordinary gifting such as the ability to heal, speak in tongues or prophesy about someone (1 Cor 12 &14)? Or perhaps to preach the gospel with boldness and efficacy even in the presence of real danger, to drive out evil spirits, and do extraordinary acts (Mk 6:6-13)? Or maybe the Spirit gives us assurance of our election as God’s children (Eph 1:13-14, Ro 8:14-16) and furthermore regenerates our hearts so that we are able to resist sin and undergo character change (Gal 5:16, 22-23)? These are all wonderful truths about the Holy Spirit. However, it might shock you to know that perhaps one of the most important characteristics of being empowered by the Spirit has to do with practicing justice. In fact, I would submit that living out the gospel and sustaining our church community may hinge on our understanding and practice of the concept of justice.

Isaiah 31:1-9

We all have emotions, doubts and real problems. Our capacity to both express and feel emotion is a God-given gift. And problems are an unavoidable facet of living in a reality in which things can go well, wrong or something weird in between. And doubts arise because we’re constantly working with incomplete knowledge of just about everything. In all of this, we have a strong tendency to become self-focused and perhaps even a bit nihilistic. God seems to hold very little practicality for our lives as well as our communities. We tend to want to focus on our own ingenuity or perhaps some other method of dealing with reality. Isaiah was attempting to address a similar problem as this in his day. Solomon’s temple, the religious and spiritual crown jewel of Israel was located in Jerusalem, the capital of the kingdom of Judah. Even still, much like the northern kingdom, those in Judah had failed to part ways with their former polytheistic practices. Isaiah likened this to functional atheism, because the idols that they worshiped were not truly gods; they were only created, inanimate objects which were made in the image of man. Isaiah understood the Assyrian invasion as the LORD’s judgement upon their idol worship. But this judgement was also meant to be redemptive, a means by which the LORD would bring his people back to Him.

Isaiah 30:19-33

It’s so funny how one week everything seems fine. We’re growing spiritually, we feel like we’re getting closer to God. But then the very next week, it all comes crashing down. Last week I shared how excited I was about studying Isaiah. But as soon as I started preparing for the second part of Isaiah 30, I thought, “Man, I don’t want to study Isaiah anymore!” Then I began to wonder, “Why is it our natural habit to want to go back to Egypt? Why do we always seem to go back to our old sinful ways, rather than trusting and waiting on God?” But then I realized, even though we do this, God’s love is so amazing. Even though we fall back into our sins time and time again (18), God is still gracious enough to wait on us.

And what’s even more amazing, is how God responds to us when finally do repent and come back to him. God doesn’t say, “You know? I’m sick and tired of this pal. You’re too late my friend. You had your chance.” But rather, the last part of verse 19 says that God’s grace is so abounding that as soon as we “cry for help”, God hears and answers us. And how does God answer? He answers with three beautiful promises; He promises he will give us spiritual regeneration, he will give us physical blessings, and finally he will defeat all our enemies.