The people of God were only walking through the motions with their religious festivals and worship and it had no impact on their lives the rest of the week. In Isaiah 33:13 God wants those who are far off to hear about what He has done for His people and how God is in control of all the circumstances in their lives and God does this is so that they can know Him and have a relationship with Him. God wants us to learn to trust Him in our daily lives simply so that others will know that He is God by how we live. The people will see that when God acts, He is not someone to be taken lightly and it will strike fear into God’s enemies and into His people. There is a part of God that many do not like to talk about, but it is part of who He is because when God acts in Anger it is for a purpose to stop evil and to get the attention of His children.
Isaiah 33:14 The sinners in Zion are afraid; trembling has seized the godless: “Who among us can dwell with the consuming fire? Who among us can dwell with everlasting burnings?”
- The Fear we should have
“Sinners have become terrified in Zion, Trembling has seized the godless”, because of God’s actions toward sin. One of the things we are taught is that there is no reason to fear God but to fear God as a child of God means we have a reverential awe of who He is. Although God is loving and kind, He still is God and He is not to be taken lightly. Sin is simply missing the Mark and the godless are those who defame the name of God by ignoring the standards that God has set. When we ignore Gods laws, we are ignoring God because God’s laws come from who God is.
The people are terrified and frozen as they recognize Gods wrath. The wrath of God is not something that we talk about and even the famous sermon by Jonathan Edwards “Sinners in the hands of an angry God” has been rewritten by Brian Zahnd who wrote “sinners in the hands of a loving God” because he could no longer look at God as a God of wrath. Because of our wrong view of God, we have the wrong view of sin and so we do not conduct our lives in the manner that we should.
Hebrews 12:29 says that God is a consuming fire and 1 Timothy 6:16 says He is an unapproachable light because we need to know that not everyone will be able to step into the presence of God. God showed Himself as fire when He spoke to Moses (Exodus 3:2) and He appeared as a pillar of fire as He led the children through the desert. (Exodus 13:21-22) The seraphim covered their faces in Isaiah 6 as did Moses in Exodus 3. Paul went blind on the road to Damascus when confronted with the Lord (Acts 9) and the Apostle John fell over as if dead when he saw the Lord (Revelation 1:17) Our view of God is not what it should be and therefore our view of sin is not what it should be and we will not fully understand this on this side of Heaven but one day we will see God face to face and fully understand the wrath and power of God. (1 Corinthians 13:12)
Romans 2: 4-5 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.
The people in Isaiah’s day were ignoring the warnings of the prophet Isaiah because they still went to the temple to worship and because they were known as the people of God they thought their status as God’s chosen protected them from God’s wrath.
The people when realizing the power of God ask the right question which was “Who among us can be in the presence of God?” It is arrogant of us to think that we can just be in the presence of God by our own terms and that our lives are good enough without having to be Holy. Hebrews 12:14says that without Holiness no one will see the Lord and the only way we can be Holy is to be made Holy through Jesus Christ. Is God love? Yes, and in His love, He gave us a way to escape His wrath and to become holy and acceptable to be in His presence.
John 3:36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.
In Isaiah’s day people were finally starting to understand what it meant to live in the presence of a Holy God and because of that they realized that to be in a relationship with God meant that their daily lifestyles would change. Isaiah now shows them what they should be seeing in their lives as a result of their relationship with God because if they had a relationship with God then it should begin to show in the life that they lived. (Galatians 5:22-23)
Isaiah 33:15 He who walks righteously and speaks uprightly, who despises the gain of oppressions, who shakes his hands, lest they hold a bribe, who stops his ears from hearing of bloodshed and shuts his eyes from looking on evil,
- The Fruit we should produce
Some believe that in Psalm 15 and 24 that the Priest would ask these questions to make sure people would be worthy to enter the Temple. It was more instructional than keeping people out, but it was a reminder that the presence of God was not to be taken lightly.
Psalm 15:1-5 O Lord, who shall sojourn in your tent? Who shall dwell on your holy hill?
2 He who walks blamelessly and does what is right and speaks truth in his heart;
3 who does not slander with his tongue and does no evil to his neighbor, nor takes up a reproach against his friend; 4 in whose eyes a vile person is despised, but who honors those who fear the Lord; who swears to his own hurt and does not change; 5 who does not put out his money at interest and does not take a bribe against the innocent. He who does these things shall never be moved.
What if we started off worship with some questions to be pondered about our lives before we worshiped God? Did you do what was right this week? Did you speak the truth this week? Did you slander anyone this week? Did you hurt a friend this week? Did you have dishonest gain financially this week? We know we cannot attain this Holiness on our own it has to be done to us from God, but we should begin to desire the things that God desires if we truly have a relationship with Him. The entire story of Christianity that Christ died on our behalf so that we can be made Holy.
2 Corinthians 5:21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
Because we have been made into something we were not, and we could not achieve then we should work on becoming what we have already been made into. Outward results show true inward change because as Jesus said “A good tree will produce Good fruit. (Luke 6:43-45) Verse 15 shows what kind of person can be in the presence of God and these are also things that should be developing in our lives.
- Walks in Righteousness
Every part of your life is characterized by the righteousness you have received from Christ. To walk in Righteousness means the paths you walk down in your daily life. It is how we conduct our lives in our daily activities not just when we attend church services or Christian events. Therefore, we are called to not forsake the gathering of believers so that we may encourage and rebuke each other when our lives are not lived righteously. Matthew 18 not only gives instruction on how to address someone in sin but also says we should treat them as an unbeliever if they do not change. 2 Thessalonians 3: 14-15 says not to associate with believers who are not living for the standards of Christ not as an enemy but so they will be ashamed.
Ephesians 4:17-24 Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. 18 They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. 19 They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. 20 But that is not the way you learned Christ!— 21 assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, 22 to put off your old self,[f] which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, 23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
- Speaks Truth
There is no distortion of truth with this person because they are straightforward with what they are saying and what they mean. In Matthew 5:37 Jesus said we should just say Yes or No and not have any confusion in our speech.
Ephesians 4:25 Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.
- Does not get involved with shady business practices
Gain that takes advantage of others and bribery are not part of who this person is. They would shake hands so tightly that it would show others there was nothing passing secretly between them to show honesty in their transactions. Christians should be known for their honest dealings with their business where there is no under the table deals taking place.
- Does not look or listen to evil
“Stops his ears and shuts his eyes. “This person wants nothing to do with evil whatsoever and will not participate even in discussions of those who are engaged in evil discussions.
The sinners who are being confronted by Isaiah are God’s people and they are in tune to what Isaiah is now saying because they see God at work and they are terrified. We all should have a healthy respect for God for who He is and what He wants us to do and God wants us to know that there is a benefit for sinners who change their ways.
Isaiah 33:16 he will dwell on the heights; his place of defense will be the fortresses of rocks; his bread will be given him; his water will be sure.
- The Rewards we will receive
Living a righteous life is rewarded not only in the life to come but in this life by keeping the enemy from destroying one’s life.
- Protection from the Enemy
“His refuge will be a rocky refuge” The idea is that the city was in a place that made it difficult if not impossible for the enemy to attack and destroy. When we live the way, God asks us to live then we are assured that the enemy will not destroy our lives. 1 Peter 5:8 says Satan is a roaring Lion looking for someone to devour or destroy.Romans 6:23 says the wages of sin is death and Ephesians 6:11 says the devil is scheming to destroy you. There is a cost to our lives, the life of our nation and the world for the sins that are committed. Marriages have been ruined, jobs have been lost, and people destroyed because of the sin they have allowed in their lives. By living a righteous life, you will be protected from the devil’s schemes. This does not mean life will not be difficult, but it does mean that you will not be destroying your own life by sin patterns that can destroy you.
- Your Needs Met
God will graciously supply all the needs which is what the bread and water symbolized. When our wants rule us and we do not live by just what we need we rely on our own ways and tend to bend the rules and cheat to get what we want.
James 4:2 You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask.
When God set up standards for us to follow it was produced from who He is but also for our benefit.
We will always be tempted by the worlds way but Gods way leads to His glory and by living a righteous life others will see our behavior and look to God. (1 Peter 2:12)
Psalm 24 which this and Psalm 15 were the verses that Isaiah’s message came from.
Psalm 24:1-5 The earth is the Lord‘s and the fullness thereof,[a] the world and those who dwell therein, 2 for he has founded it upon the seas and established it upon the rivers. 3 Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord? And who shall stand in his holy place? 4 He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false and does not swear deceitfully. 5 He will receive blessing from the Lord and righteousness from the God of his salvation. 6 Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek the face of the God of Jacob.[b]