Isaiah 33:22


It is most difficult for us to realize that idea of Jehovah as the direct Ruler and Governor of a nation, which was the one characteristic thought of the Jews, and the great underlying idea of the Mosaic revelation. But this verse gives us most material help by setting out a threefold relation of God to men in the theocracy.

I. GOD IS THE LAW-MAKER. "The Lord is our Lawgiver." This is true in two senses.

1. God gave the formal laws from Mount Sinai, which were written down by Moses, and made the basis of the national covenant. Compare and illustrate by the work of Lycurgus and Justinian. God's laws, as arranged for the Hebrews, were only the adaptations to their national life of the conditions and rules under which God set humanity from the first. This should be made quite clear, lest a notion should prevail that God's Law to the Jew was his first revelation to men. It was the writing out of essential law for the practical use of one people.

2. God gives revelations of his will, which are law for all who receive them. There is no finality in the revelation of God's law, for the very reason that God maintains living relations with us, and those relations involve that the expression of his will is law to us at any given time. Illustrate by the prompt and entire obedience of the prophets to God's will, howsoever it may be revealed to them. Such revelations are made to us, and for us God's will is law.

II. GOD IS THE LAW-APPLIER. "The Lord is our Judge." This is precisely the work of the judge - to show how the principle and the comprehensive terms of the law bear on each particular case. Moses, Joshua, David, Samuel, and Hezekiah, referred each case of difficulty directly to the Divine Judge. But in just this Israel so often failed; and this we still find to be our supreme difficulty. We can accept the fact that law is from God, but we want to preside ourselves over all applications of law. What we need is the confirmed habit of referring all things to God our Judge.

III. GOD IS THE LAW-EXECUTOR. "The Lord is our King." The proper idea of a king is one entrusted with power to carry out the requirements of the national law. The king is the executive. God carries out his own laws. Scripture is full of striking instances which are designed to impress the general truth. Take such cases as Achan, Korah, Uzza, Ananias, and Sapphira. This phase of God's relation is not so difficult to apprehend as the previous one; and yet in these days we are in some danger of losing our sense of the directness of Divine judgments. - R.T.









For the Lord is our Judge... lawgiver... king.
The advent of sin into the world is one of the greatest mysteries of the universe. It was the introduction of a mighty force for evil in direct antagonism to God, and to everything God ever made. Now that sin had found a footing in this world, it became a problem, perhaps the most perplexing and difficult ever known: How the Divine government should deal with sin to prevent its spread, to restrain its action, to subdue its power, and, if possible, to expel it from the throne it had usurped. Known to us are two methods in which the Divine government has dealt with sin. The first is that of stern, vigorous, prompt justice. This was the principle adopted in the case of the fallen angels. Sin in them became at once its own punishment. In the case of man God adopted another method of dealing with sin — a method of merciful and mediatorial intervention. By redemption He proposes to meet evil in its own temple, even in the heart of man, and there restrain, subdue, destroy, and abolish it. How can this be done? If done at all, it must be done in perfect harmony with the attributes and the character of God. He can do nothing contrary to His nature, or dishonouring to His law. If He saves, pardons, and acquits the guilty, it must be in perfect harmony with His law and government. Jehovah King, Jehovah Lawgiver, Jehovah Judge is our Jehovah Saviour. All the four offices blend and harmonise in one glorious Person, the Lord Jesus Christ.

I. JEHOVAH IS OUR KING, and although we are rebels against His kingly authority, yet He can save us. His right to govern us is based on His creatorship. He made us and not we ourselves. All our powers of body, mind, and spirit are gifts — His gifts. Not one of them is of our own production. He hath made all things for Himself, for His service, for His will. Had the race of man continued obedient to His will, we should have continued happy and safe under His benevolent and holy rule. But the reverse of this has taken place. We have rebelled. Had He doomed us to woes unrelieved and unending, every attribute of His nature, every law in the universe, every being in creation would have given the acquiescing Amen, just and true are all Thy ways. Yet, when retribution with unrestrained force was about to fall, when truth and justice demanded the execution of the dread sentence, the curse was rolled back, wrath suspended, punishment deferred, guilty man spared, and complete eternal deliverance provided and freely offered. How came this to pass? Not by a mere act of arbitrary sovereignty. There are things which God cannot do. He cannot do an injustice. He cannot deny His Word; He cannot deny Himself. He cannot come into the midst of a rebel world armed to the teeth against His majesty, and say, "I know that all men are traitors to My rule, rebels against My authority; all deserve to die, and without exception ought to die, for I have solemnly declared that death is the penalty of rebellion; but as sovereign Lord, I select some from amongst them who shall not die, who shall escape the penalty, who shall be treated as if they had never rebelled, and ultimately be crowned with glory and immortality, like all loyal beings in My dominions. I give no reason for thus acting. I claim the right to do it by an act of sovereign will." We must all feel that this was impossible to God. This would be to abolish all distinction between virtue and vice, between obedience and rebellion; this would be to overthrow law and right, to enthrone lawlessness, and reward crime: God could never do this. Notwithstanding that He is our King, and that we are traitors who have dared to lift our hand to smite the Majesty on high, yet He saves us. Jehovah is our King, and He will save us. But how? If He saves us, it must be in perfect harmony with His Kingship. And so He does. The Son of God equipped with human nature steps into the breach, stands between the rebels and the Majesty they have offended. The naked sword in the hand of the angered King is about to fall and smite, but Jehovah's Fellow bares His breast to receive the smiting. The strongest condemnation of sin which even God Himself could give was given when He sent His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin condemned sin in the flesh.

II. SALVATION IN HARMONY WITH LAW. Jehovah is our Lawgiver, and He will save us. This clause teaches that God sustains towards us the relation of Lawgiver, but the difficulty in the way of saving us is in the fact that we sustain towards Him the relation of lawbreakers. There can be no question as to our guilt. We have all sinned and come short of the glory of God. If then we have all sinned, the law cannot justify, nay, the law condemns us. The penalty of disobedience is death. The Lawgiver cannot by an act of mere sovereignty remit that penalty. He cannot ignore or override the law which He Himself has made. If this were done, the Maker of the law would become the breaker of the law. This can never be. Salvation in order to be satisfactory to the sinner himself must be bestowed in harmony with law, and must have the consent of the law. To secure for me abiding peace I must have the assurance that the law consents to my pardon, to blot out my sins from her book of remembrance, and to cancel the sentence of condemnation. I must be assured that the law will never lift up her voice to condemn me, nor stretch out her hand to smite me, nor throw open the sources of wrath to overwhelm me. Redemption through atonement meets this difficulty. Jehovah Lawgiver becomes Jehovah Saviour. But how? Within the ark were the tables of the law; over the law was the lid, the covering, called the propitiatory or mercy-seat; over that again the cherubim in bending thoughtful attitude; between the cherubim the Glory, the uncreated symbol of the Divine Presence seated in majesty on the mercy-seat. This then is the teaching of this profound symbolism. Mercy has built her throne on law; so that when the transgressor approaches God to plead for pardon, and when God graciously bestows it, the law is present, not to condemn, but to approve, not to object but to acquiesce in the pardon: that pardon proceeds from mercy and that mercy is founded on law. Jesus was wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities. Now that the law has vindicated her own majesty and purity by smiting our Substitute, the law can not only acquiesce, but also triumph in your pardon, and be more signally magnified by your salvation than by your condemnation, so that we can challenge you to come boldly to the throne of grace to obtain mercy, for Jehovah Lawgiver is also Jehovah the Saviour. "If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father." Here Jesus Christ is spoken of as an advocate or pleader. What is He pleading for? Forgiveness. The sinner cannot deny or disprove the accusation. But the Divine Advocate is there and shows Himself as newly slain, saying, I have endured the curse for him, I have been wounded for his transgressions, the chastisement of his peace has been laid upon Me, and I claim for him forgiveness. The plea is admitted, the Advocate prevails, the sinner is free; in the presence of the sacrifice the law is magnified and announces the acquittal of the penitent believer: "Neither do I condemn thee, go in peace."

III. SALVATION IN HARMONY WITH JUDGESHIP. Jehovah Judge is also Jehovah Saviour. We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ. But is not every man judged at the hour of death and his eternal destiny then irrevocably fixed? Yes. What need then of a general judgment? One important, if not the most important purpose is this — the general judgment will give the Judge of all the opportunity of vindicating Himself. He must be justified when He speaks; He must be cleared when He judges. Assembled worlds on that day must be satisfied that every decision is in perfect harmony with truth and righteousness For father and mother to enter heaven with even the shadow of a suspicion that the sentence pronounced upon their son was unjust or severe, would mar heaven to them for ever. For His own sake and for the sake of all His subjects throughout His vast dominions, God must silence every objection, dissipate every suspicion. How will the Judge clear Himself? Not by pleading sovereignty. We cannot conceive of Him saying to assembled worlds on that great day: "I am sovereign disposer of all events, of all beings, of all worlds. I do as I will with each and all without giving any reason. I have endowed you with reason but I intend to treat you as though you had none. You may be dissatisfied with your destiny, or with the destiny of some in whom you are lovingly concerned; you may suspect Me of having done you or your loved ones an injustice, but that will not concern Me. You may carry your suspicion with you to your doom, it may cleave to your spirit for ever; I will not attempt to remove it or to convince you that I am right." This would be an unreasoning despotism, and one shudders at the thought of the righteous Judge dealing thus with His rational creatures. He will justify Himself when He speaks, and clear Himself when He judges. But how? When the dividing line is drawn between the righteous and the wicked, the one placed on the right, the other on the left of the judgment throne, the Judge will be able to say: "Notwithstanding that all men have sinned and come short of the glory of God, yet, in infinite compassion I made a provision for the removal of sin, for the deliverance of every man from its power, guilt, and pollution, and for his complete restoration to purity and bliss. These on My right availed themselves of that provision, fulfilled its conditions, sought with true repentance and faith the application of that redemption to their heart, and they stand here to-day without sin. Who will lay anything to their charge?" Turning then to the other side the Judge will be able to say: "All these on My left I have loved with an infinite compassion, I have died to redeem them, My salvation was as free to them as to the others, and would have been as effectual had they received it, but they spurned it. I shed My blood for them, but they trampled it under foot. I can do no more for them. They have chosen death and they must have it." What then is the inference? If you perish it will be your own fault; the entire responsibility of your lost condition is with yourself, and will rest on you alone, and for ever. "God so loved the world," &c., so that if you perish, it will not be because you are sinners, but rather because you spurn the remedy, and reject the only Redeemer. Sin and punishment are inseparable. You cannot divorce them. Where the one is, the other must be. If sin remain, you cannot escape punishment; for sin is its own punishment. The only method to avoid punishment is to abolish sin. God's system of redemption provides for this. "For this purpose was the Son of God manifested that He might destroy the works of the devil." Nothing that God ever made is to be annihilated. Matter may change its form, its appearance, its relations, but science teaches us that not an atom will ever cease to be. God has, however, provided for the annihilation of sin in the believer through atonement. This is the mystery of redemption, it destroys that which destroys humanity. It saves the sinner by destroying his sin.

(Richard Roberts.)

The broken and divided condition of the Christian Church is, to every right-thinking man, a subject of uneasy reflection.

1. It is in the nature of things impossible for a multitude of men to live together, or subsist as a community without the occurrence of differences, disputes, and questions of a greater or a less degree of importance.

2. The institution by which God meets and provides against this unavoidable circumstance in human life is that of the judge, the fullest general idea and true theological definition of which office is contained in these words, "If there arise a matter too hard for thee in judgment, between blood and blood," &c. (Deuteronomy 17:8-13).

3. The provision of a judge with absolute and conclusive authority, is God's way of meeting that evil to which human society is exposed. He demands from men that they shall bring their controversies and have them determined by the person whom He appoints; and they are to yield to the award of the judge, through submission to God, by whose voice or in whose providence he has been appointed, and through faith that God is with the judge, and is at hand to give him wisdom and discernment (Proverbs 29:4; Judges 2:18).

4. The taking away of judges is one of the last and severest punishments that God inflicts upon a people. When God gives men children to be their princes and babes to rule over them — so that the people are oppressed everyone by another and everyone by his neighbour, so that the child behaves himself proudly against the ancient, and the base against the honourable — it is in His anger that He does so (Amos 2:3).

5. Again, when God recovered His people, or spake of doing so, the restoration of the judge is one of the main acts or promises (Isaiah 1:26).

6. To set judgment in the earth is declared to be one of the offices of Christ: and His kingdom is characterised as that in which "a King shall reign in righteousness, and princes shall rule in judgment"; when the people shall dwell in a peaceable habitation and in sure dwellings and in quiet resting-places. But of peace and quiet security and well-being without the office of the judge, there is no mention in all scripture, either prophetical or historical.

7. This method and ordinance of God for the preservation of peace and righteousness among men is continually alluded to in the language of the New Testament; alluded to and recognised, and therefore shown to be perpetual. Our blessed Lord always refers to the judge as the ordained ultimate decider in all human quarrels and contentions; and although He would have His disciples to be reconciled everyone to his adversary before an appeal to the judge shall have become unavoidable, yet He clearly points out the absoluteness and peremptoriness of the ordinance, as one which God will ordinarily guide, and one which He will not suffer any man with impunity to despise.

8. The duty of those whose matter is brought before the judge is to do according to the sentence of the judge, not declining from it to the right nor to the left. This, of course, is on the supposition that the judge spoken of is the ultimate one, from whom there can be no appeal. So the general peace of society, and the comfort and quietness of the individual himself are ensured.

9. Moreover, it is through the judge that law becomes a living thing, capable of continual enlargement, and of application to the varying conditions of human society; which is itself a living thing, its character always in progress, with new interests springing up, and liable to new difficulties and complications.

10. The Church of Christ is the widest and most comprehensive society of men that can exist. How much more than all other societies of men must the Church be liable to causes of division!

11. And shall God's ordinance for peace not be found in the spiritual corporation? And if there be in the Church such an ordinance of ultimate appeal, and peremptory decision, shall not the same implicit submission be required which God commanded that men should render under the law — a submission more intelligent than under the Jewish dispensation, and therefore more voluntary, yet not less absolute — and shall not the penalty be as severe as it then was for the despiser and the presumptuous?

12. There has been no Catholic judgment in the Church since the removal of the apostles; and we are conscious of the condition to which we have been reduced by the want of judgment. Questions, doubts, disputes, discontents, hatreds, divisions, rebellions have accumulated.

13. And when God's people fall into such depths as these, how does He act towards them? "He repenteth Himself for His servants, when He seeth that their power is gone" (Deuteronomy 32:36). Such as God was to Israel the same is He for ever, the same shall He show Himself unto His Church. And unto Israel He hath said, "I will restore thy judges as at the first, and thy counsellers as at the beginning, afterward thou shalt be called the city of righteousness, the faithful city" (Isaiah 1:26). Those judges and counsellors, shall not they be peacemakers for the long-vexed Church — by whom the winds and the sea shall be rebuked and there shall be a great calm?

(W. Dow, M. A.)

Homilist.
I. ACCEPTANCE OF GOD'S DECISION IN THE AFFAIRS OF LIFE. "The Lord is our Judge." These words do not refer to the final judgment, but to the verdict of the Judge in this life.

1. This decision is made known in reference to nations, as in this chapter. God judged between Israel and the Assyrians by destroying the Assyrian host. He showed that the Jews were His people, and He was their God.

2. The same may be said of Churches, as is shown by the history of the seven Churches of Asia.

3. So likewise of individuals, though the Divine decision in this case is not always so manifest.

II. ACCEPTANCE OF GOD'S WILL AS THE RULE OF LIFE. "The Lord is our Lawgiver." We are liable to take our own passions, inclinations, and desires as the rule of life. Sometimes the maxims of society and the examples of others. But the only safe rule is the will of God.

1. It is benevolent in its intentions — it aims at our happiness here and hereafter.

2. It is safe in its action — always the same. Human wisdom changes.

3. It is elevating in its effects, ennobles, enriches, exalts.

4. It is eternal. We must ever live under the rule of this Lawgiver. If we accept it as the rule of life here, it will be the delight of heaven to live under the same hereafter.

III. ACCEPTANCE OF GOD'S SOVEREIGNTY. "The Lord is our King." He is a worthy King.

1. A King who is infinite in power, and wisdom, and love.

2. A King who ever thinks of, and provides for, the welfare of His subjects.

3. A King whose dominion extends to all things; to every element and every creature; to all men and spirits, good and bad; to all regions — earth, heaven, and hell.

4. A King whose kingdom shall have no end. No revolution will ever disturb the security of His throne, and that because the sceptre of His kingdom is a right sceptre. Let us earnestly and devoutly say, "Thy kingdom come."

IV. ASSURANCE OF SAFETY. "He will save us." A result arising from the acceptance of the Divine under the three foregoing aspects — as Judge, as Lawgiver, and as King.

(Homilist.)

The Lord is our King.
Let the great day at Hebron when David was made king by a united nation be to us a type of that greater day when a united world with a perfect heart shall crown Jesus King of men.

1. Jesus is our King by Divine anointing.

2. Jesus received regal honours without any protest on His part.

3. When Jesus had risen from the dead and ascended into heaven there was another crowning there.

4. Though Jesus was the King of men, He refused to possess universal empire.

5. Our King has two great things to do.

(1)To recover men from sin. He had to bear the penalty. Jesus recovers us also by delivering us from our inclination to sin. And by giving penitence to the human heart.

(2)To make us kings like Himself. He bids every man hope in God.

6. Our King is powerful.

7. He is an active King.

8. What shall we do for our King?

(W. Birch.)

Two distinct benefits stand out as soon as we compare the condition of Israel under the judges with that under King David and King Solomon. Under the king was obtained —

1. Unity. One nation with one national life, instead of isolated tribes living under their own judges, and having little cohesion with the other tribes.

2. Salvation from their enemies, and prosperity at home.

(Hubert Brooke, M. A.)

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