Lutheran Hour Ministries

Daily Devotions from Lutheran Hour Ministries

"Judgment, Please!"

November 20, 2018

Isaiah 51:5 - My righteousness draws near, My salvation has gone out, and My arms will judge the peoples; the coastlands hope for Me, and for My arm they wait.

What do you think of when you think of God's judgment? If you are like most Christians, judgment is a frightening concept. We think of ourselves as defendants in a criminal case, and God as the prosecutor, witness, and judge, all rolled into one.

That scares us. We are deeply aware of our sins. Just like King David prayed in Psalm 143:2, we pray, "Enter not into judgment with Your servant, for no one living is righteous before You." We know very well as it says in Psalm 130:3 -- "If You, O Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand?" Certainly, not us!

But that's not what Isaiah is getting at in this verse. He's drawing the picture of a civil case: a case where we are the plaintiffs, and we are suing for justice against those who have hurt us!

In Isaiah's day, justice was even harder to come by than it is today. If the plaintiffs were poor, or socially unimportant, or didn't have money to offer a bribe -- why, then, their case might never even be heard, let alone settled. The judge would simply refuse them a court hearing. That meant people like the poor widow in Jesus' parable in Luke 18 could go for years with an absolutely airtight case against an evil landlord or an oppressive neighbor, and still never get help, let alone justice. Small wonder she was begging for judgment!

We are actually in this same case, too, every day. We may be fortunate enough to live in a place where access to the courts is available, and even the poor get their cases heard. But what about the huge amount of evil in this world that cannot be set right by winning a lawsuit? What about cancer and heart disease, poverty and hunger, child and elder abuse, unfair laws and violence in the streets? Those most definitely are the work of the devil, and also the result of society-wide problems we've never been able to manage. How can we get justice for those? Who will put a stop to them?

Only God can do that, which is why He speaks through the prophet Isaiah: "The coastlands hope for Me, and for My arm they wait." Judgment is coming for all of us who have suffered far too long under the power of evil. Only wait a little longer, and Christ will return; He will judge the nations. His salvation has already gone out; He has already died and risen for us and washed us from our sins. Now we are His people, and we can look forward to judgment, not with fear, but with rejoicing. God will put right everything in the universe that has gone so badly wrong. And on that day, it will be true what was written in Revelation 21:4. "He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away."

THE PRAYER: Lord, help me to look forward to Your judgment, knowing You have already forgiven and justified me through Your death and resurrection. Amen.

This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Kari Vo.