Although it is good to look at the future and rejoice that one day the suffering and pain is going to end the people are still wondering why they are experiencing painful situations. Isaiah is going to explain to them why they are going through what they are going through and give them hope that even in the midst of pain and suffering God is using it to accomplish His goals for their lives. God uses pain and punishment for a purpose and His purposes are eternal.
-11 Has he struck them as he struck those who struck
them? Or have they been slain as their slayers were slain? 8 Measure
by measure,[a] by exile
you contended with them; he removed them with his fierce breath[b] in the
day of the east wind. 9 Therefore by this the guilt of Jacob
will be atoned for, and this will be the full fruit of the removal of his sin:[c] when he
makes all the stones of the altars like chalkstones crushed to pieces, no
Asherim or incense altars will remain standing.
10 For the fortified city is solitary, a habitation deserted and forsaken, like the wilderness; there the calf grazes; there it lies down and strips its branches. 11 When its boughs are dry, they are broken; women come and make a fire of them. For this is a people without discernment; therefore he who made them will not have compassion on them; he who formed them will show them no favor.
1) God’s Punishment is different for His Children
“Was it like the smiting of the ones who smote?” Although a difficult translation to put into our language what was being said was that the discipline of God for His children is different from the discipline, He will give those who do not belong to Him Isaiah is addressing two different groups of people. Those who belong to God and those who have rejected Him entirely. God’s punishment is to make us into something we are supposed to be not to destroy us. When God acts against His enemies it is for the purpose of punishing for everlasting doom, but Gods children can know that God’s discipline is for the purpose of godliness. If you have accepted the gift of Jesus Christ and what He did for us on the cross, then you can know that God is punishing you as a father would punish a son.
Hebrews 12:7-11 It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? 8 If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. 9 Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. 11 For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
God has you on a path to become more righteous and more holy just like Him (Romans 8:28-29). The Path He has us on is for our good and anything He allows us to go through is out of a loving Fathers heart.
2) A Father’s Punishment is Fair
“Measure by Measure” When God punishes the punishment fits the crime that was done. He is not an angry out of control God who acts on emotions and therefore punishes people randomly or haphazardly.If God punishes someone because they have rejected Him then they are going to know that it is fair just like the Rich man in Luke 16 did not complain about why he was in the place of torment instead of paradise. For God’s children He does not punish you unfairly as well but it is a measured response to the situation.
“He has removed them (8) Therefore God will not have compassion for them and show them no favor (11)” Those who do not belong to God get removed from his presence. When speaking of the wrath of God many people have a difficult time with the idea of Hell, but the reality is that is a measured response to the rejection of their creator.
“You can’t force someone to love you. … the same is true in our relationship with God. God can’t force use to love Him. Love, by definition, must be freely given; it cannot be coerced. … But if we continue to turn down His invitations, He eventually leaves us alone to pursue our own sinful desires, as Paul explains in the first chapter of his letter to the Romans. …A loving God must eventually let people go their own way, which for some is away from Him. As C.S. Lewis aptly put it, “In the long run, the answer to all those who object to the doctrine of hell is itself a question: “What are you asking God to do? To wipe out their past sins and, at all costs, to give them a fresh start, smoothing every difficulty and offering every miraculous help? But He has done so, on Calvary. To forgive them? They will not be forgiven. To leave them alone? Alas, I am afraid that that is what He does.” (Stealing from God, Frank Turek, PG 223)
God has paid it all and yet people will not receive His payment which is their choice but with it comes the consequences of their actions. God has offered forgiveness and a literal cleansing of all of our sins but if you reject that then you leave God no choice but to give you what you ultimately desire which is for Him to leave you alone and be cast out of His presence. His wrath is compared to the harsh winds that would blow in a dry scorching heat that would destroy crops and the presence of God will destroy those who do not belong to Him and it will remove all the sins and flaws from those who do belong to Him.
3) God’s Punishment was put on Jesus
“The Sins of Jacob will be forgiven” God will remove those from His presence that refuse to accept His offer but for those who belong to Him He will remove the things that are unclean. Sin is what separates us from God and the only way we can have our sins removed was for God to remove them.
53:4-5 Surely he has borne our griefs and
carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted. 5 But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.
We cannot earn our salvation and we cannot take the punishment we deserve because the price is way too steep for us to be able to pay for it. (See Matthew 18) The debt is too high for us to pay back on our own and that is why we need a redeemer or one who can buy us back. He will take away our sins but most people do not see themselves as sinner’s only mistakers and do not see their sin as offensive to God as it really is. Most people will say “They are good people” and they are right compared to humanity but not compared to a Holy and perfect God.
Romans 3:21-24 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
We become justified only through Jesus. 2 Corinthians 5:21 says He made Jesus who knew no sin to take our sin so we can become righteous. This is the good news of the gospel that our sins have been dealt with and our sins have been punished so we do not have to worry about them. We do not have to worry if our good works are going to outnumber our bad works or if somehow I made the cutoff point to get into Heaven. Christianity is not fair because it is not based on the individual efforts of human beings but only if we accept the work of Jesus Christ and what He did on the cross for us. In other words Jesus took the test and we get to put our name on the paper to receive the passing grade Jesus earned.
4) God’s Punishment is for Repentance
“This will be the full fruit of the removal of his sin when he makes the altar stones like dust and the Asherah poles are destroyed.” The people’s response to the forgiveness of sins is to not only take down their idols but to destroy them to the point they become dust. God did not want them put in a closet or out of sight where they might be able to call on them again if they really needed them. The people called sin what God called sin and they destroyed them. A life of repentance is a true life of one who belongs to God. Matthew 3:8 says “Bear fruit in keeping with repentance.”
The people made God mad at the beginning of the book of Isaiah because they were worshiping God while adding other religions to their worship. Isaiah warned them but they would not listen and repent of their sins but because of the punishment God the people will turn to see that there is only one who they can truly worship. A person has truly repented when their actions change not just because they say they are sorry. That does not mean they will not slip back into patterns of behavior they have developed but when they make the necessary changes in their lives that is when true repentance has happened. We are called to be fruit bearers of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) and that only happens for those who abide in Christ. (John 15:5)
103:8-13 The Lord is merciful
and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast
9 He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever. 10 He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities.11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; 12 as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. 13 As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.
For they are not people with understanding (V11) Again Isaiah addresses the other group who are ignoring the warnings of God. Although God is sending punishment to people to get their attention there will be some who will continue to ignore their creator. Those who want to ignore God do so by trying to come up with every feasible way that they can explain away what is happening instead of seeing that it is God who is trying to get their attention.
“Therefore, God will not have compassion for them and show them no favor” Eventually the patience of God is done and those who ignored Him will experience His wrath and they will get the punishment they deserve.
Romans 2:4-8 Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? 5 But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.6 He will render to each one according to his works: 7 to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; 8 but for those who are self-seeking[a] and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury.
God is patient but the day of repentance is going to be over with soon and then those who did not trust in Jesus Christ will get the wrath of God.