Isaiah 42:21-25: The Lord was pleased for His righteousness’ sake To make the Law great and glorious
New American Standard Bible
The Lord was pleased for His righteousness’ sake
To make the Law great and glorious.
But this is a people plundered and pillaged;
All of them are trapped in caves,
Or are hidden away in prisons;
They have become plunder, with no one to save them,
And spoils with no one to say, “Give them back!”
Who among you will listen to this?
Who will pay attention and listen in the time to come?
Who gave Jacob up for spoils, and Israel to plunderers?
Was it not the Lord, against whom we have sinned,
And in whose ways they were not willing to walk,
And whose Law they did not obey?
So He poured out on him the heat of His anger
And the fierceness of battle;
And it set him aflame all around,
Yet he did not recognize it;
And it burned him, but he paid no attention.
God gave Israel the law to direct and guide them personally and as a nation. It set them apart from the nations of the earth. All of the nations of the world that surrounded Israel were godless. They served pagan deities and took part in idolatry. For God’s righteousness sake His desire was to honor His law. He laid out for Israel very clearly if they followed the law and lived according to it, they would be greatly blessed. But if they lived in rebellion to the law of God they would experience all the curses that God established in the law (Deut 28). God was not hiding this truth from His people, but made it very clear through His servant Moses.
But God says this is a people plundered, despoiled, trapped in caves, hidden away in prisons, have become prey with none to deliver, and spoil. It speaks of the people’s captivity in Babylon. Because of their sin and wickedness, the Lord removed them from the land. The greatest place of protection we will find is living according to the word of God. But when we live in rebellion and according to ways that seem right to us in our own eyes, it simply brings destruction. This is why the enemy tempts us. He tempts us to chase after the world and its desires. He tempts us to turn from the ways of the Living God. But the only thing that awaits those who rebel against God and His ways is destruction. This is clearly seen from the history of the nation of Israel.
The Lord asks the questions “who among you will give ear to this”. Israel has failed to have ears to hear. They have disregarded the word of the Lord. They have failed to learn from the mistakes of those who have come before them. If they would but hear, repent, and live according to God’s law and commands, they would experience blessing in all things.
The question is asked who gave Jacob up for spoil and Israel for plunders. The answer is the Lord and it is because the people of Israel have sinned against the Lord, have not walked in His ways, and have not obeyed the law of God. God doesn’t give us His word as a suggestion. True biblical faith requires that we live according to God’s word. The name Christian is not simply a title we carry around. It is a lifestyle. It is committing all we are to the kingdom of God. The character and nature of God has not changed. Yes we no longer live under the demands of the law, but it does not divorce us from God’s moral law. Yes we no longer take part in the ceremonial law of God, but God’s moral law is written on our hearts.
As a result of Israel’s disobedience the Lord poured out on them the heat of His anger, the fierceness of battle, and set them on fire. But still in all of this they did not recognize God reaching out to them. They refused to repent. Therefore the Lord sent them into exile because it was the only way God could save them from their depravity and sin.
Sin is very deceptive. When we begin to partake of sin, it seems innocent at first. But the more we engage with sin and give into temptation, the more it takes hold of our lives. God sent prophet after prophet simply telling the people to turn from their wicked ways and to turn fully back to God. Sadly the voice of the Lord was ignored.