Isaiah 25:1-26:21; Galatians 3:10-14; Psalms 61:4-8; Proverbs 16:18
OT: “On that day this song will be sung in the land of Judah: We have a strong city. Salvation is established as walls and ramparts. Open the gates so a righteous nation can come in — one that remains faithful. You will keep the mind that is dependent on you in perfect peace, for it is trusting in you. Trust in the Lord forever, because in the Lord, the Lord himself, is an everlasting rock! For he has humbled those who live in lofty places — an inaccessible city. He brings it down; he brings it down to the ground; he throws it to the dust… The path of the righteous is level; you clear a straight path for the righteous. Yes, Lord, we wait for you in the path of your judgments. Our desire is for your name and renown. I long for you in the night; yes, my spirit within me diligently seeks you, for when your judgments are in the land, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness.” (Isaiah 26:1-5, 7-9 CSB)
In the first chapter of Isaiah, the prophet declared that the faithful town of Jerusalem had become an adulteress – the town that was once full of justice and righteousness was now full of murderers. Because of that, the judgment of the Lord would come. Then, here in the 26th chapter of Isaiah, Isaiah prophesied of a time when Jerusalem would once again be a strong city, established on salvation, and open only to the righteous. The ultimate fulfillment of this prophecy can be seen in Revelation 21, when God makes a new heaven and a new earth, a new Jerusalem descends from heaven to earth, and is inhabited only by the redeemed and faithful followers of the Lamb.
Isaiah 26:3 is a very familiar passage of scripture. It may not seem as familiar in the CSB translation. The New King James Version translates it this way, “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.” The word ‘stayed’ (or the word ‘dependent’ in the CSB) has to do with leaning on, resting on, being upheld and supported by something. When I think of being upheld by something, I think of the times when I have gone repelling. I personally have a fear of heights. It’s not debilitating, but it definitely makes me extremely uncomfortable. When I am up on a tall ladder or peering over a steep cliff, the only thoughts that go through my mind are all the ways that I could lose my balance and fall to my death – not very comforting. As much as I dislike heights, I actually like repelling. But for me to enjoy repelling, I have to place my complete trust in the rope that keeps me from falling. In fact, I have to trust the rope so much, that I lean all the way out, perpendicular to the cliff face, so that I can descend safely. As long as I have full faith in the rope and depend on it completely, I am safe and at peace.
Ultimately, that is what separates the righteous from the unrighteous. The righteous are righteous because they have placed complete faith in the Lord and have staked their entire lives in Him. Those who don’t place complete faith in the Lord will find another way to live, and their way will lead to their demise. Those whose minds are completely stayed and dependent on the Lord through faith will be at peace – they will walk on the straight paths of righteousness in the Lord – they will ultimately not be cast out, but will be welcome into the city of God and the dwelling place of the Lord almighty.
NT: “For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse, because it is written, Everyone who does not do everything written in the book of the law is cursed. Now it is clear that no one is justified before God by the law, because the righteous will live by faith. But the law is not based on faith; instead, the one who does these things will live by them. Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, because it is written, Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree. The purpose was that the blessing of Abraham would come to the Gentiles by Christ Jesus, so that we could receive the promised Spirit through faith.” (Galatians 3:10-14 CSB)
In building his argument against the Judaizers, Paul quoted passages from the Jewish scriptures to show that righteousness cannot come through the law – it comes only by faith, and faith in Jesus Christ. First, Paul established (by quoting Deuteronomy 27:26) that unless you obey the law perfectly, you are under a curse. He then quoted the prophet Habakkuk, who wrote that the righteous will live by faith (Habakkuk 2:4) – and followed up that statement by demonstrating that the law is not based on faith, but on works (Leviticus 18:5). If we rely on the law or any other system of works to become righteous, we will forever be under a curse, for no one is able to perfectly obey the law in his own strength, and no one can perform enough righteous acts to remove the stain of sin.
However, Jesus Christ the Son of God was born as a human without sin – and by the fullness and power of the Holy Spirit within Him, He was able to perfectly fulfill the law and live as a completely righteous person. Then Christ, the only human who was not under a curse, chose to become a curse for us by being hanged and crucified on a tree. By becoming a curse, He removed the curse from all those who would place their faith completely on Him. The only way to become righteous and to be saved from the curse of sin is to humble yourself, stop trying to earn your way to righteousness, and become completely dependent and “stayed” on the life, death and resurrection of Christ by faith.
Proverbs: “Pride comes before destruction, and an arrogant spirit before a fall.” (Proverbs 16:18 CSB)
Pride and arrogance has to do with self-exaltation, where one lifts him or herself up above everyone and everything. A prideful and arrogant person will not trust in others, for others are beneath them – they only trust in themselves. A prideful and arrogant person will not depend on anyone or anything, for they are the only dependable ones in their eyes. A prideful and arrogant person will not place their faith in anyone, for they are the only ones who are faithful. Becoming dependent on the Lord… staying your mind on the Lord… placing your faith completely on the Lord requires humility. It requires you bringing yourself low and exalting the Lord instead. A prideful and arrogant person will not do that, and because of that, their life is headed for destruction.
Prayer: Lord, I thank You that though I am unable to become righteous through my own efforts, You have made a way for me to become righteous through faith in You. Though it is often tempting to become self-righteous, I know that the only way down the cliff… the only way to be saved from the curse of sin, is to lean fully into You, place my faith completely in You, and never stop trusting in You. Therefore, I choose to do that as You give me grace by faith. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.