And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever. — Isaiah 32:17
As a fifteen-year-old boy, I attended my first Christian camp meeting convention. Since I had only minimal religious upbringing, I really did not know what to expect. Before camp I had been praying in my local church to be saved, and my pastor thought it would be good for me to attend.
While I wanted to be saved in order to be ready to go to Heaven, I did not want to fully relinquish the reins of my life to the Lord. So there was a little rebellion in me at this time. I didn’t know enough about spiritual things to realize that this struggle was between the Spirit of God and the devil for lordship in my life.
In my semi-rebellious state, one thing stood out which seemed to me to typify all of Christianity. On the wall of our cabin was posted a list of rules for behavior at the camp. To me it said, “Do this,” and “Don’t do that!” My impression at the time was that serving God was all about “do’s” and “don’ts.” Looking back, I realize that I wasn’t being very fair. Many of those rules simply pertained to safety and sanitation issues. Others were to make it possible for a great number of people to live harmoniously together in crowded conditions.
Then I met Ron. He was staying in the same group cabin and was only a year older than me. In spiritual development, however, he was “miles” ahead of me. He was serving the Lord with all of his heart because he truly loved Him. Something about this appealed to me — I saw genuine Christianity in action. I am so thankful that before camp meeting was half over, I too could say that I truly experienced God’s forgiveness and salvation.
Once I had surrendered my heart to the Lord, I no longer thought of Christianity merely as a set of rules. I began to realize that, as our focus verse states, a life of righteousness is a wonderful way to live. It truly does bring peace and assurance to one’s soul.
In our focus verse, the prophet Isaiah spoke of the peace and assurance that come from reliance upon the Lord. While this was a promise that referred specifically to the end-time peace for the Jewish people, God’s promise of peace applies to those today who will surrender their lives to Him. I have heard and experienced for myself that, “A clear conscience is the softest pillow on which to lay your head.” It is a wonderful feeling to know that you are at peace with God. It is also great to know that you are at peace with all men — including not only your Christian acquaintances, but also those with whom you mingle in the world.
As with so many of the prophecies in the Book of Isaiah, chapter 32 has not only a short-term application, but also applies to a more distant time frame, including certain features which will not be completely fulfilled until eternity. In the short range, this book was probably written during the reign of King Ahaz. During that period wickedness abounded, and ignorance and idolatry were prevalent. Meanwhile, the constant threat of the mighty Assyrian army overshadowed Israel. In these verses, the people were pointed to the day when righteous King Hezekiah would take the throne, and there would be a revival of serving the Lord. There would still be much wickedness among the people, however, and for the land to reap the fullest benefits of Hezekiah’s righteous rule, there needed to be a thorough repentance among the people.
The long-range application is the peace that Christ brings to the individual who serves Him in sincerity. It can be said about Jesus, “a king shall reign in righteousness,” (verse 1) and “a man shall be as an hiding place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest” (verse 2). Yet the completion of this prophecy will not be until the last days, beginning with the glorious Millennial Reign of Christ. At that time, goodness and righteousness will be universal, and wickedness and evil will be totally eliminated.
Several different topics are discussed in this chapter. The first two verses describe an ideal nation where the Leader rules in righteousness, and His staff executes “judgment.” Verse 3 promises that eyes shall not be dim and ears shall hearken to the message of righteousness. Elsewhere in the Book of Isaiah, the very opposite is portrayed: eyes that will not see and ears that will not hear. The fact is that, in one way or another, God will enlighten every soul on earth to what they need to do to please Him.
Typical behavior patterns are dealt with in verses 5-7. There are “churls” (misers) and there are those who are “liberal” or “generous.” Verses 9-14 speak of women (this also applies to men) who think that everything in their lives is fine as long as they are comfortable and prosperous. Financial prosperity and success in this world do not necessarily signify a right relationship with the Lord.
Verses 15-19 promise that a day is coming when the destruction brought on by living apart from God will be replaced by a period where people live in harmony with Him. This time will be typified by peace, sure dwelling places, and quiet resting places. Verse 20 possibly refers to “keeping on” in one’s Christian endeavors.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
II. The message of condemnation: the Holy One of Israel provoked, rebuking and judging
E. Prophecies related to unbelievers in Israel and Judah
3. Woes against foreign alliances
b. The second woe
(3) The promise of Israel’s ultimate deliverance (32:1-8)
(4) The prediction of Israel’s immediate judgment (32:9-14)
(5) The promise of restoration through the Spirit (32:15-20)
A life of righteousness will yield benefits in both our day-to-day existence, and in our eternal destiny.