Posted by: Jonathan Stepp | March 30, 2008

No Peace for the Wicked

A friend recently asked me about Isaiah 57:21 in the light of humanity’s inclusion in the Trinity through the incarnate Son. The verse says “‘There is no peace,’ says my God, ‘for the wicked.'”

Since Jesus is the Word of God as Man we have to see everything in the written word in the context of who he is.

Jesus is the one in whom all humanity exists (Acts 17:28, Col. 1:17), in whom all humanity is adopted into the Triune Life (Eph 1:5, 2:15), and in whom all humanity is reconciled to the Father (Rom. 5:18, Col. 1:20).

Therefore, whatever Isaiah is saying about the wicked it can’t mean that they are unreconciled to the Father or that they are not adopted into the Triune Life.

In the context of chapter 57 Isaiah is primarily talking about those in Israel who have worshiped idols. That means they have believed lies about who God is and who they are. The problem they face is not that they are excluded from God. In Christ they are included in the life he shares with the Father and Spirit and in Christ they are reconciled to the Father.

The problem is that they don’t believe they are included; they believe a bunch of lies about who God is and how he feels about them.

When you think about it, tossing on the sea and having no rest are a pretty good description of what this is like. These people are children of the Father in Christ, they are adopted and reconciled, and their Father in heaven loves them and includes them in his life with his Son and his Spirit. Yet they believe that God is like Molech, a pagan deity who was worshiped by child sacrifice!

Their beliefs are the exact opposite of what is real and true about the Father and since they believe something that is the opposite of the truth they have no peace.

The problem the wicked have in Isaiah 57 is not that they are not included, adopted and reconciled. The problem is that they don’t believe this truth about themselves, they believe a lie, and believing that lie makes them miserable.

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Responses

  1. You manifest a wonderful picture of God’s ultimate intention; however, your suggesting that they are miserable because they don’t believe this wonderful truth about being included, adopted, and reconciled. How could they since that beautiful message wasn’t revealed until Paul writes about it; and please consider that God was in Christ CONCILIATING, a different word in the text, please consider checking me on this. God has an attitude of peace toward US (this is the good news of conciliation) It is stubborn, darkened in his mind humanity that rejects both that message and the Father behind it. That being true, Isaiah’s audience DID NOT hear the above truth, so what was their particular brand of idolatry and darkness? What message were they hearing? I only know in part; but I am sure it wasn’t the secret of God’s purpose in Christ which you handsomely quoted as Col.1:20
    I hope this becomes dialogue; as I am too bored with my own monologue.:) thanks for your post

  2. Thanks for the comments!

    You’re right, obviously, Isaiah’s audience knew nothing of Jesus or our adoption into the Triune Life.

    What they did know was that God had chosen them freely and in grace to be his people, without any action or decision on their part. Therefore they knew that they were God’s people and he was their God.

    So, when they worshiped idols they were denying the truth about themselves and God and living a lie.

    To find the application for ourselves today we have to look at Jesus since, in him, the Father has made “one new humanity out of Jew and Gentile.” (Eph. 2:15) Which is to say that all humanity also, like the ancient Israelites, have – in Christ – been chosen to be God’s people without any action or decision on our part but simply out of the Father’s gracious decision to adopt us as his children in Christ (Eph. 1:5)

    Whenever I read the OT I always read it through the lens of who Jesus is and how he connects me to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Otherwise, I don’t think the OT makes much sense.

  3. Regarding Col. 1:20 the word there is “apokatallaso” and it means to reconcile, restore or renew all things in need of such restoration. So the NIV, KJV, NLT, and NASB all translate it as “reconcile”.

    Grammatically in that verse it cannot refer to a change in God’s attitude toward us because the sentence is structured to say that Christ has done something to all things in earth and heaven, not that he has done something to God.

    Paul is not saying that Christ was conciliating God’s attitude toward us. He is saying that Christ was reconciling, restoring, and renewing all things in heaven and earth to their proper relationship with God.

  4. Totally helpful comment, Excuse me for not being clear on the conciliation comment; the reference I was thinking about is in IICor5:1819; there it is not with the prefix apo. I think it is consistent with God’s present attitude of grace to say that it is man who feels hostile toward God and not the other around.
    Thank you so much once again


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