What I am about to READ
God marks the people’s iniquity and promises mercy through the prophet.
MARK and LEARN
Isaiah 57 is a wonderful example of how God uses the preaching of Law and Gospel to bring about repentance and faith.
Through a variety of images, Isaiah brings to his hearers the gross reality of their sin. The “smooth stones of the valley” are the idols which the people worship, which are also set up “behind the door and the doorpost” as house gods to which they pray. Whether he marks injustice, sexual sins, or murder, these all have their root in the idolatry in which they are practicing. From the lack of fear, love, and trust in God comes all sorts of debauchery and lewdness.
For these sins, which indicate a lack of faith in God, there is just retribution from the Lord who delivered them from bondage. God in a sense calls the people’s bluff and tells them to let their gods deliver them. God wishes to call his people to repentance and to admit that no such gods exist and that any righteousness which they believe they have will be of no help to them “I will declare your righteousness and your deeds, but they will not profit you.” vs. 12. This is the law in its most stern form. Any righteousness which you have by your behavior is not actually righteousness, for it is not imputed by God.
But even as God is righteous, he is also merciful. Vss 14-21 proclaim sweet gospel in that he proclaims a deliverance of the people by the mercy of God. Those who are broken by the law and believe in the Lord God will receive mercy and righteousness. Not because they themselves are righteous, but because the trust in the Lord God who delivers them from sin and death. “…I will heal him; I will lead him and restore comfort to him…creating the fruit of his lips” vs. 18,19. God does this creative and redeeming work.
Lord God you are righteously angry with me for my sins. You hate all sin and lewdness. But in your mercy you have covered my sin with the blood of your Son Jesus. Bring to my heart true contrition and faith. Create in me fruit of the lips, that is, praise and good works which are pleasing to you. Amen.