Covenant Reformed News
June 2015 • Volume XV, Issue 14
The Rock Whence We Are Hewn (1)
In the sixth century BC, Jerusalem was devastated by the Babylonians. Its temple, its palace, its houses, its city walls—all were reduced to rubble by the ungodly invaders. Along with that, there were very few people of God left. Many were slaughtered or died of famine or diseases. Others were scattered, never to return, and many apostatized.
It is harder for us to understand their deep grief at the physical desolation of Jerusalem, for many of us have never experienced anything like this; we probably have more of a sense of their hardship due to their fewness.
So what does Isaiah do, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, to encourage God’s small band of afflicted people? What does he draw upon from earlier biblical history? First, he has recourse to the Abrahamic covenant and the narrative concerning Abraham and Sarah in Genesis 11-25. Second, the prophet writes of Eden, the paradisaical garden of the Lord in Genesis 2-3.
This is what we read in Isaiah 51:1-3: “Hearken to me, ye that follow after righteousness, ye that seek the Lord: look unto the rock whence ye are hewn, and to the hole of the pit whence ye are digged. Look unto Abraham your father, and unto Sarah that bare you: for I called him alone, and blessed him, and increased him. For the Lord shall comfort Zion: he will comfort all her waste places; and he will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the Lord; joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving, and the voice of melody.”
The introductory address, “Hearken to me, ye that follow after righteousness” (1), does not refer to those Israelites who sought after righteousness by works and who went about to establish their own righteousness. “But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness. Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumblingstone” (Rom. 9:31-32; cf. 10:3).
Instead of self-righteous hypocrites, God is here speaking to the godly, those who fear the Lord and obey the voice of His servant, the Messiah (Isa. 50:10); those who know righteousness, those who have God’s law in their heart (51:7).
The righteousness of these people is the imputed righteousness of justification (45:24-25). They are also righteous with the infused righteousness of sanctification so that they obey God’s Word not to merit but out of gratitude. They “follow after righteousness” (51:1) by pursuing it diligently.
Let us earnestly follow after righteousness in God’s way and “hearken” to the prophet in the next issue of the News.
Rev. Angus Stewart, Pastor of Covenant PRC, Ballymena, N.Ireland
- Volume: 15
- Issue: 14
Rev. Angust Stewart (Wife: Mary)
Ordained - 2001
Pastorates: Covenant Protestant Reformed Church of Ballymena, Northern Ireland - 2001Website: www.cprf.co.uk/
Address7 Lislunnan Road
State or ProvinceCo.Antrim
Zip CodeBT42 3NR
Telephone(01144) 28 25 891851