Wednesday in the Second Week of Advent

Isaiah 26:1-15

We Have a Strong City

There is a fundamental teaching throughout the Bible from Genesis to Revelation.  It is a fundamental principle throughout the Bible which no interpreter can deny without doing violence to it.  And that principle is simply this: There are those who are God’s people and those who are not God’s people.  That’s really the only two groups that matter in all the world.  Those who are God’s people might endure hardship and tribulation, but they are promised an eternal reward.  Those who are not God’s people might experience material wealth but are promised eternal ruin.

Isaiah 26 continues with the theme of the city: “We have a strong city; he sets up salvation as walls and bulwarks.  Open the gates, that the righteous nation that keeps faith may enter in.”  The city is the city of God, and the nation is the people of God, not some earthly city or nation.  Throughout Isaiah, any earthly city is the city of fallen man.  Those who are part of the righteous nation are described as “keeping faith.”  Indeed, verse three is a memory verse for all time: “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you.”  Why?  “Because he trusts in you.”  The Lord protects his faithful ones while he lays the exalted city (of man) to the ground.

The righteous are also described as yearning for the Lord and seeking him.  They desire both the Lord and His judgments.  Their paths are level.  That does not mean easy, but that God shows them the way and goes with them.  The wicked (another name for “not God’s people”) are blinded by their own hardness of heart.  The righteous are teachable when God’s judgments are in the earth.  Not so the wicked; they do not learn righteousness.  They do not see God’s hand in the world, or seek to understand what is happening around them through the light of God’s word.

The righteous do not gloat over the wicked.  Oh, they wish to see God’s judgments vindicate both Him and His people.  But they are also aware that “other lords besides you have ruled over us.”  Perhaps earthly lords, perhaps spiritual, but the righteous are always aware of their own infidelities, and that whatever good they have done was the Lord’s work.  These other lords are dead, indeed shades, who will not rise again to rule over the righteous.  The Lord ordains peace over His people and will increase their numbers and enlarge their nation.  Yes, open the gates that the righteous nation may come in.  And may the Lord ever be her bulwark and protection as we keep our minds stayed on Him who keeps us in perfect peace through faith.

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