Psalm 26:7--That I may publish with the voice of thanksgiving, and tell of all thy wondrous works.

Monday, May 14, 2012

The Poetic Prophet

Isaiah 64:6--But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.

Isaiah was a prophet, but his prophesies were usually very poetic. Outside of the actual poetic books of the Bible, Isaiah contains some of the most poetic passages in the entire canon of Scripture. The above verse is nothing but similes, and they all deal with the topic of man's depravity. So, what exactly is the Holy Spirit trying to tell us through these four comparisons?

1) "We are all as an unclean thing". The first comparison is simple and straightforward. It simply states that we are all unclean. Isaiah doesn't even bother to identify the "thing" we are unclean like. This makes the reader focus on the fact of uncleanliness. However, the diction here is powerful. By simply using the term "thing", Isaiah puts a disgusted tone into the passage, as if what he compares us to is unmentionable and unidentifiable because of its extreme filth. All of mankind is greatly stained by sin. If you've lived, you've sinned (Romans 3:10, 23).

2) "All our righteousnesses are as filthy rags". The next simile logically flows from the first. If you are a filthy, rotten, "unclean thing", then nothing you do or produce will even have an air of cleanliness about it; it will be unclean as you are. Everything that man sees as a righteous deed--donating to charity, going to church, praying, volunteering, saving someone's life--is seen only as a filthy rag in God's sight. As Elihu said, "If thou be righteous, what givest thou him? or what receiveth he of thine hand?" (Job 35:7). This doesn't mean that our good deeds go unnoticed or unrewarded by God. Not at all. God blesses those who love and follow His commandments. All this means is that no matter what we do, no matter how "good" we are or how "righteously" we live, it will never be enough to get us to Heaven. You can never come close to being as perfect and holy as God is, and no good lifestyle, living right, or amount of good works will ever be enough to save you (Ephesians 2:8,9; Romans 3:20; Titus 3:5).

3) "We all do fade as a leaf". Next are the consequences of our sin, the first being the decay of our bodies. When God placed the curse of death on man in the Garden of Eden, mortality was instituted. Now our bodies, from the moment of birth, begin to age and thus progress toward death. Sin is what causes this. Not only has sin caused the physical decay of our bodies, but it causes spiritual decay as well. If you are saved, sin will put a wall between you and God. You will still be saved, but your relationship with God will become strained, your conscience will be deadened, and joy and blessing will be gone from your life. For the saved and unsaved, sin causes relationships with others to become brittle, and your life will go on a downward spiral you cannot stop yourself. Sin will only dig deeper the hole you will be trying to fill. Sin causes all things to "fade as a leaf" in winter (Genesis 3:19; Galatians 6:7,8).

4) "Our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away". Lastly, there is the final effect of sin: death. Keep that image of the fading leaf in your head, and then imagine the bitter winter wind finally blowing it free of its limb, dropping it to the ground, and leaving it to be crushed underfoot by some passerby. This is what sin does to us; we are the leaf, and it is the wind that brings to us our final destruction. All are under the curse of sin, and all will someday die (Ecclesiastes 3:20; Romans 5:12; 6:23; Hebrews 9:27; James 1:15; and many more).

So what are we to do? In just one verse containing four similes we've heard the worst news possible: Every human being is a sinner doomed to die one day, and there is no way we can save ourselves. But praise God that he has not left us helpless. He loves us and wants no one to perish. That's why Jesus our Lord came to this earth and died for our sins, to become our Atonement, Sacrifice, and Savior. Without Him we are hopeless, but with Him we have eternal life, joy, peace, hope, and happiness.

If you are saved today, rejoice in this fact! Rejoice that you have been rescued from an eternal destination called Hell and that this salvation can never be lost. Rejoice that you have been taken from the clutches of the devil and made a child of the living God. Rejoice that you have been freed from the power of sin and are a conqueror through Jesus Christ. Now go out and tell the world about it.

However, if you are not saved, then you have no reason to rejoice except for the fact that God offers salvation this instant. It's a free pardon of sin, a gift paid in full by Jesus, and you just have to reach out and take it. Simply pray to God, asking for forgiveness of your sin and trusting in Jesus' death, burial, and resurrection. I plead with you--and so does God--to not put this off. Now is the day of salvation, for you know not if you have tomorrow; you don't even know if you have the next second. Accept Him into your heart now. See the Salvation tab above if you need more detailed information.

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