OUR JUDGE, LAWGIVER, KING, WHO SAVES US

Filed under ENGLISH

(Message two)

(Isaiah 33:13-22 “Yahweh is my salvation”; 32:1, 16, 17; Revelation 19:11-16; 20:4)

Author: Thomas Cosmades

 

A description of ‘democracy’ offered in Webster’s Dictionary goes like this: “The absence of hereditary or arbitrary class distinctions or privileges.” Since the innovation of its concept and objectives in ancient Greece, democracy endured countless abuses and injurious effects in the hands of inequitable humans, friend and foe. Mankind has yet to enjoy the flawless execution of an ideal administration. It should far surpass the painstaking enactment of democracy envisioned by its founding fathers. Ruthless totalitarianism and reckless anarchism are muddying the scene perennially. The frightening great image of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream culminates in its destruction by a stone cut out by no human hand, which will then fill the whole earth as a big mountain (cf. Daniel 2:31-35).

The precise formula for the workings of democracy has been known for long. The democratic form of rule from which jockeying for power and favoritism are not absent is made up of three viable branches: legislative, judicial, executive. Approximately two centuries prior to the establishment of Greek cities where healthy functions of democracy were formulated, a Hebrew prophet spoke in Jerusalem by divine inspiration: “For the LORD is our judge, the LORD is our ruler, the LORD is our king; he will save us” (Isaiah 33:22). The prince of the prophets, evangelist of the OT, whose name Yeshayah means ‘Yah is salvation’, in his widely known ‘Servant’ passages, covers the overall picture of the Just Ruler. The prophet presages the vicarious sufferings of the Servant. The Servant ultimately carries mankind to unimaginable grandeur in Yahweh’s timetable (cf. 33:5,15,16,21). The Prophet culminates his anticipation to the fulfillment of his expectation.

Mankind’s turbulent history is replete with the rise and fall of oppressive and despotic rulers. People in all ages have yearned for a genuinely just and upright ruler, capable of implementing every law of righteous government. Mass communication constantly brings to the fore diverse administrators, who have an air of optimism. However, just lawmakers, right evaluators of law, and righteous rulers are all universally aspired to. Along with the magi from the east, we resolutely ask: “Where is he who has been born King of the Jews?” (Matthew 2:2).

Great lawgivers in the stature of Moses (ca. 1500 BC), Hammurabi (1792-1750 BC), Solon (c. 630-560 BC), Justinian (483-465 BC), etc., are remembered with admiration. However, none could approach the yearned-for Lawgiver. The prince of prophets introduces his readers to an expected development (cf.33:22). This unique Judge, Lawgiver and King is also man’s Savior. Without recognizing him as Redeemer and Ruler, the paramount benefits to everybody remain unrealized.

I. YAHWEH IS OUR JUDGE – (Shopet)

Just judges draw broad admiration and appreciation. But the scene of the mundane judiciary abounds with unjust judges in varying degrees. Jesus referred to one (cf. Luke 18:2). The prophet enlightens those distressed with the prevailing conditions about the Judge who is beyond ordinary thinking: “Then a throne will be established in steadfast love and on it will sit in faithfulness in the tent of David One who judges and seeks justice and is swift to do righteousness” (Isaiah 16:5). He is the just One with superhuman attributes. Once I heard Henry Kissinger remark in an interview that moral compunctions are not to be reflected on in dealing with international affairs. The paradox of the matter is that the universal Judge of individuals and nations was cruelly subjected to mockery and derisive treatment with the ultimate sentence of death. The religious leaders of the day felt they were dealing with a crucial case. “By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people? And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth” (Isaiah 53:8,9). Humans who will be ultimately judged by him became adjudicators and executioners of the holy Judge. The scriptures point to him as the final arbitrator of three distinct groups:

a) believers

“We shall all stand before the judgment seat of God”

“We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ’” (Gr. BHMA) (Romans 14:10; II Cor.5:10)

b) all nations

“Before Him will be gathered all the nations, and He will separate them one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and He will place the sheep at his right hand, but the goats at the left” (Matthew 25: 32, 33).

c) all mankind

“Then I saw a GREAT WHITE THRONE and Him who sat upon it; from His presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Also another book was opened, which is the BOOK OF LIFE. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, by what they had done and if anyone’s name was not found written in the BOOK OF LIFE he was thrown into the lake of fire” (Rev. 20:11,12,15).

The Prophet describes him as a Judge with superhuman attributes:

a) absolute devotion to faithfulness

b) accurate measuring of righteousness (cf. Isaiah 11:3, 4)

c) exact justice executed in swiftness

This Judge was subjected to the mockery of man’s derisive justice: “By oppression and judgment He was taken away. And they made His grave with the wicked” (Isaiah 53:8, 9).

God’s revelation abounds with forewarnings concerning the absolute authority of the universal Judge:

“Behold, the JUDGE is standing at the doors” (James 5: 9). This judge says, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay…” (Romans 12:19; I Thess. 4:6; Heb. 10:30). He will not pass over any offence, old or new. He says: “For there is nothing hid, except to be made manifest; nor is anything secret, except to come to light” (Mark 4:22). Since every individual will come under the sober, accurate sound of his gavel, it is imperative for every person to seek refuge under his redeeming grace in the guidance of the Holy Spirit. The righteous Judge became a condemned sin-bearer to deliver every person from sin and ultimate judgment.

II. YAHWEH IS OUR LAWGIVER – (Haqaq)

Yahweh appeared as the Lawgiver on the occasion of announcing his initial instructions to our forefathers: “But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die” (Gen. 2:17). That original law was brazenly infringed upon by our ancestors. Transgression of God’s law continued unabated. The great Lawgiver appeared twice on Mount Sinai pronouncing his law in written form (cf. Ex. 20:1-7; Deut. 5:6-21). There he also declared his essential character: I AM WHO I AM (Ex. 3:14). James reminds the NT readers of God’s absolute authority: “There is one LAWGIVER and JUDGE. He who is able to save and destroy” (James 4:12).

‘Haqaq’ for lawgiver means ‘engraver’. This is in common use up to the present for engraving artisans. The Master Engraver, aware of human incapability to abide by his holy and just laws foretells the supernatural act of engraving his holy law upon human hearts whom he has redeemed. Before that he says, “Behold, I have graven you on the palms of my hands…” (Isaiah 49:16a). “Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant … this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it upon their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people” (Jeremiah 31: 31-34). The writer to the Hebrews twice quotes this distinctive act (cf. 8:10; 10:16, 17). The delight in God’s flawless law is reflected by the Psalmist: “The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple…” (Psalm 19:7).

Our thoughts go back to Isaiah’s painful cry: (cf. 6:5-8). On that occasion the angel of the Lord touched the prophet’s lips with a burning coal and pronounced him cleansed. The sin-infested person can do nothing less than cry out to the Holy One whose laws he has defiantly violated. Isaiah sought forgiveness and God’s unique act to engrave his holy precepts upon his heart, sin’s breeding ground. God’s law and justice are perfectly harmonized at the discharge of his redemptive act. “Listen to me, my people, and give ear to me, my nation; for a law will go forth from me, and my justice for a light to the peoples. My deliverance draws near speedily, my salvation has gone forth, and my arms will rule the peoples; the coastlands wait for me, and for my arm they hope” (Isaiah 51:4,5). Otherwise a fearful prospect of judgment awaits the person (cf. Heb. 10:27,31). God’s law inscribed upon the once-selfish heart paves the way for the Holy Spirit to bring an entirely new charge: “Bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Gal. 6:2; cf. John 13:34).

III. YAHWEH IS OUR KING – (Melek)

Humans under any form of government can only imagine an astute and responsible ruler. “Your eyes will see the king in his beauty; they will behold a land that stretches afar” (Isaiah 33:17; cf. 32:1,16,17). In our time there is a universal dearth of capable leadership. The prophet supports his message by saying, “…my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!” (6:5b). This prophetic amplification spans the eons. He is the King whose immaculate reign is above all national and political bargaining and buffoonery reflected in underhanded dealings. The Pantocrator’s splendor will be displayed throughout the wide universe carrying everyone to the awe expressed by the prophet.

Christ said to the short-sighted religious leaders, “…behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you” (Luke 17:21b). The Apostle Paul who likewise saw the King in his glory says: “…Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col. 1:27b). Christ’s suffering church throughout this hostile world is at the mercy of belligerent leaders who draw their supremacy from clinched power and force. Enlightened believers everywhere are affirmatively persuaded about the forthcoming reign of Christ the Pantocrator. They are braving their ordeal in assured comprehension of the jubilee to be celebrated in his triumphant kingdom. The following depiction in Revelation is an eschatological picture: “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign for ever and ever…” ‘Surely I am coming soon.’ Amen, Come, Lord Jesus!” (Rev. 11:15; 22:20). He who saves in time those ordained for redemption will usher them into his undefiled glorious kingdom. Accepting now Christ’s freely offered salvation by faith brings you into the reality of the sparkling tomorrow.

© Copyright Thomas Cosmades

ΔΙΑΔΩΣΤΕ ΤΟ ΑΡΘΡΟ ΣΕ ΦΙΛΟΥΣ ΣΑΣ