Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show mercy to you. For the Lord is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him.
Isaiah 30: 18 NRSV
Our world longs for justice. We watch in the news as justice occurs. Sometimes we may not agree with it, and sometimes we do. What this scripture is focusing on is the justice of the Lord. The Lord wants to bless us, but He has a very specific requirement. We must wait upon Him.
The prophet Isaiah lived in a time of much turmoil, in a nation which had already suffered a series of setbacks, and injustices. The nation of Israel had flourished briefly during the reigns of King David and his son King Solomon. However, those days of glory were long gone by the time Isaiah stepped onto the scene.
The nation of Israel became the recipient of injustice after humiliating injustice, when Isaiah was called to serve as her prophet. There had been no mercy...
Isaiah’s word to his people, the residents of the nation of Israel, was twofold.
First, he assured them God would bring about justice. This can be very comforting for us, especially during some days when injustice seems to reign in certain parts of our world. The Word of God reminds us that in spite of some of the injustice we see, eventually the Lord will turn everything around. Yet it will be in God’s time. Today’s injustice will one day be swallowed up in tomorrow’s heavenly justice, rolling down like a mighty river. (Amos 5: 24).
Second, Isaiah encouraged them to wait for God’s justice, and not try and take things into their own hands. So often, the nation of Israel would try to form alliances with Egypt against other nations, but that was never God’s will. Israel wanted a quick and easy fix to their problems, but God called upon them to wait. We know the reality: waiting for something good is extremely hard. Yet waiting in faith, waiting with heartfelt trust in God’s goodness, is exactly what we are called to do.
The alternative is “vigilante justice”, where we don’t wait for anyone, and attempt to render justice ourselves. It is “taking matters into our own hands,” which often results in more violent confrontations. Isaiah does not encourage this approach. We have seen first-hand how this only causes more distention. For one thing, Isaiah knew that his relatively small nation of Israel would be crushed by Assyria, and other threatening neighboring countries.
Those two thoughts are just as inspiring for us, and directly on point with our world today. God wants to be gracious with us, and show us mercy. Our problem can sometimes be our impatience. The timeline that we think the Lord should keep is almost never going to be the one in which God acts. Even the Lord’s justice may not seem right to us. We must remember that the Almighty’s wisdom exceeds our own. Therefore be patient, for our Lord is truly a God of justice. We need to remember that God, and His justice, will eventually win out in the end. In the meantime, let us wait upon the Lord…
God of justice and mercy,
Life seems so unfair, to so many people. We want You to resolve every troubled injustice, right now. In the words of the prophet Micah, let us seek to “do justice,” but let us do so with complete faith and trust in You. When necessary, give us patience, trusting that Your justice will eventually roll down like a mighty river. With hopeful hearts, we pray this prayer in Jesus’ name. Amen.