And the effect of righteousness will be peace,

   And the result of righteousness, quietness and trust forever.

Isaiah 32: 17

This is a verse from a part of Isaiah where the prophet is describing how things will be when the Lord has returned and restored the land and its people to His desired state. His return is necessary, for peace is not something that we do a very good job of establishing on our own. In fact, I have confidence in saying that peace and its close corollary, peacemaking are not the sort of thing that most of us even place significant value upon. We might grant some form of honor to people who we say are going about the business of seeking after peace, but in fact, we are still mostly concerned with control and the power that grows out of that dominance. This world tends to view peace as something that is gained by virtue of force, conquest, superior might, high and strong fences, and by keeping those that we find uncomfortable or frightening at a seemingly safe distance.

Too much of the human concept of peacemaking is framed in by the approaches and the standards that are described above. None of this is in conformity with the way that God views the same topic. The Lord desires to draw close to all people, and He does not care about any of the concerns or issues that we use to define those who we would isolate or insulate ourselves away from. The Lord seeks after people who are distant or different from others, for there is no one on this earth that is not a part of His familial circle. God has poured out love, grace, mercy, and understanding upon all people, and He continues to treat each and every one of us in this manner for as long as we draw breath upon the earth. In all of this, Christ calls to His people to enter into the righteousness of peace. We are to be people who set aside all of the worldly ideas of what it means to be a peacemaker so that Christ’s love for others and His desire to care for their bodies, hearts, and souls can become our own calling.

We live in a time when the desperation and the struggles of a world that is sold out to gaining its form of peace through the utilization of force and dominance is the common theme. Most of our governments and the majority of our leaders are invested heavily in building up our arsenals of destructive weapons and of finding ways to utilize them to greatest possible effect in our quest for power and prominence. This is not the path of righteousness that Christ desires for us to follow, and it is not the way that He modeled for us to live, either. In the face of ultimate human power, Christ demonstrated complete submission to the Father’s will, and in the end our Lord prevailed absolutely over all the strength and the false might that this world could throw at Him. We do not yet live in the days that are to come when Christ will establish His redeemed kingdom upon this broken planet, but we can dwell in Christ’s presence every day of our lives, and we can be truly righteous by seeking to be peacemakers in every situation that we encounter. We can also speak forth Christ’s peace into our surroundings and promote the form of loving care and acceptance that Christ desires and that He calls out as righteous.    

And the effect of righteousness will be peace,

and the result of righteousness, quietness and trust forever.

Isaiah 32: 17

 

Isaiah lived in difficult times. Those were not peaceful days, and the concept of the sort of quietness that is being discussed here was not known. The leaders of the nation were quarrelsome and rancorous with themselves and with the world round them. Judah’s internal problems had disabled its ability to be what God had intended for it to be and to do all that the Lord had ordained for it to accomplish in the world. Instead of being God’s own hands and feet of reconciliation, truth giving, and justice, they were defensive, self-serving, oppressive, and profane. They were in very real need of the sort of revival of their faith that Isaiah was sent to proclaim, for they needed to turn away from their focus on self-reliance and enter into repentance before the Lord and seek out His righteous path for themselves and for their nation. That is why Isaiah is looking ahead in these words to the effect that the coming of Christ will have.

 

The description of the world above could be said of and about our own world and the days in which we live. We are in a period of almost unheard of anger, frustration, and unrelenting drive to see personal objectives met at the expense of true care and concern for the cause of peace, justice, and truth. There is little that is said or done by our leaders that is worthy of any sort of praise or that is truly in alignment with God’s call to govern righteously and justly. I fear that this last statement is true regardless of political affiliation or nationality. We live in a time where people have determined to go their own ways with such defensive stridency that there is no longer room for reason or civility in their engagement with each other. So, it seems that almost all of the real responsibilities and the moral mandates of governance are being set aside and even abolished for the sake of all of this posturing and power seeking behavior. We live in a world wherein our public figures and governmental leaders are no longer fit role models for us to consider.

 

It would seem that we all need to turn in the direction that Isaiah was indicating so that we move away from the caustic and abrasive approach to handling conflict and difference of ideology that is pervasive in our culture and enter into a prayerful and Spirit-led process of determining the direction for our world. I think that this sort of revival begins with each of us and in our own hearts. We must decide that we desire the sort of deep flowing peace that comes about only by and through following Christ in all matters and that leads to the type of quietness in the spirit that is formed out of total trust of the Lord and in His Word. In Christ, we are not citizens of nations, and we are not to be followers of any political system or point of view. By Christ’s guidance and in the power of His Spirit, we are to proclaim the truth of His righteousness by all that we say and do. With Christ we can impact our world for the sake of peace, justice, and righteousness. This begins with personal repentance and proceeds in trust with confidence and courage into the way we engage in the public sector. Then it goes forth as we demand righteousness and godliness from our leaders and in our processes of governance.

The effect of righteousness will be peace, and the result of righteousness, quietness and trust forever.

Isaiah 32: 17

 

It seems to me that there is a very wide spread misunderstanding of righteousness in our world. When righteousness is mentioned many people quickly envision a scene where there are individuals who are red-faced with anger shouting and waving signs of condemnation. Even if they have never actually encountered such a scene, the images of them have been portrayed so extensively for our viewing that they have created a lasting impression. It is, at least in part, this sort of misguided sense of righteousness that has caused division and hurt in many churches throughout history, and this same failure to understand God’s view of righteousness has fueled the energy behind far too many damaging attacks on people and their beliefs that are carried out in the name of God.

 

I would submit that God does not actually hold a view of righteousness. It is not something that is external. There is no force of nature or other influence that can bend, turn, or reshape righteousness. Rather, God is righteousness, for He is its author and its only true source. It is who He is. If we think that this foundational concept of living in a manner that is right with God and that is in total conformity with His will is worthwhile and desirous, then we must look to the author, Himself, for the knowledge and the understanding that makes the necessary personal transformation possible. God’s Word is filled with descriptions of the complex blend of characteristics that make up righteous living. In His dealings with humanity God has employed love, grace, mercy, justice, holiness, and wisdom in order to interact with us in a righteous manner. He leads us into doing the same in every aspect of life.

 

If we truly desire peace, especially the sort of peace that is deeply rooted in our souls and that is not easily shaken by the events of life; we need to dwell near its source, which is righteousness. So, it is essential that we claim property, build our homes, and establish our communities at God’s feet and fully in His presence. This is both a literal and spiritual location. It is spiritual in the sense that righteous living begins with a relationship with Christ, that wisdom and guidance are continually provided by the Holy Spirit, and that, in Christ, we are now citizens of the unseen but very real Kingdom of God. This location is literal by virtue of the community of faith that God desires for us to actively engage with. It is also made tangible by the way that we interact with and respond to our culture, for Christ calls us to function as living and breathing, image of God revealing citizens of our world. When we trust God enough to allow righteousness to reign in our hearts and minds, we will know the sort of peace that establishes a confident quietness in our souls.

 

And the effect of righteousness will be peace,

and the result of righteousness, quietness and trust forever.

Isaiah 32: 17

 

These are restless times. Anxiety and anger are everywhere, and calm talk with quiet contemplation of the effect of the words shared is almost nonexistent. People around the world are engaged in the unceasing process of staking claims upon a piece of the earthly real estate for the sakes of their own self-determined well-being. So, the more that we have, the more fearful we become of the other people who are out there with minds set on taking it from us. This watchfulness makes it hard to enter into understanding and caring relationships and is, in itself, exhausting.

 

These are days when we need to recognize the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives and in the land. This righteousness that the Prophet mentions is not something that we define, interpret, or generate on our own. It is an essential aspect of God’s character and is an extension of the Lord’s nature. It was present with us on earth in and through creation and by virtue of God’s physical presence in that creation and with the first people. That is where things went off of the rails. It happened when we decided that we knew a better way to live than the one that God had laid out for us. At that time peace was picked up above our heads and hurled down to a shattering end upon the hard rocks of ego, passion, and separation.

 

However, our rebellion and God’s resultant rebuke of us did not put an end to God’s presence on the earth or of His active pursuit of relational engagement with us. God’s Spirit continued to engage with people on earth and His Word of Truth was among us. The Son, Jesus, walked with us and explained that Word by means of instruction and actions and took our sinfulness upon Himself on the cross. Then His Spirit has come to dwell with and within us so that the Word of Life would be well known to us. This is the source of the righteousness that leads to peace on earth. Christ can sooth the restlessness of our hearts and minds as He leads us into an external focus upon reaching out to others with the saving love of Christ. We can find our own rest as we set aside striving for what we own and therefore must defend and trust the Lord for all that we need while blessing the world with His righteous benediction of peace.

And the effect of righteousness will be peace, and the result of righteousness, quietness and trust forever.

Isaiah 32: 17

 

Unfortunately, the expression “All is right with the world” doesn’t seem to apply to the real world very often; at least, this is true for the one where I live most days. First off, all is way too inclusive, then, the world is far too big a place, and finally, right is just too vague. The absolute complexity of living and the ridiculously fast pace of life seem to work together to defeat even the possibility of rightness. Yet, giving in to the idea that life can’t be lived in a better place does not seem correct either. There is an internal, an innate drive in people to create a better place to live. We desire to reside in a just and a fair community where people are valued and where goodness prevails. This idea that good can prevail over evil is one of the classic themes of drama, and it is one of the common dreams of people. We all desire to reside in a world where the bad doesn’t happen, at least not without reasonable notice.

 

The words of the prophet seem to be suggesting that God sees this idyllic dream of mine as possibility, even as promise. He is saying that there can be peace and that we can live in a quiet place where trust relationships are possible. However, Isaiah’s key to that desired outcome is righteousness. God wants us to become the points of righteous, the doers of Christ-like living, in a world that is spinning out of control. The Lord desires for each of us to draw upon Him as our source of internal peace and to allow His calming influence to fill our minds; then, He wants us to interact with the chaos and the distress of our world with the strength of a quiet, Christ-focused heart. We can trust the Spirit of God to take us into this day with calm clarity and purpose, and we can have faith that He will successfully bring us through every twist and turn that we encounter during our journey.

 

As we seek God’s peace for the worry and the concern of our hearts, open our minds to His quiet and confident voice, and trust in His Spirit’s guidance through the day; then, we will have an influence for Christ in our world. Individuals and the communities of faith that they engage with can be world changers at the level that is most important to God. That is, we can touch the lives of other individual people, and we can influence thinking and policies that are used to create systems of rule that are just, fair, and caring. So, we can become people who not only live in that “all is right” world, but we will be the ones who bring the reality of Christ’s righteousness to others.

 

The effect of righteousness will be peace, and the result of righteousness, quietness and trust forever.

Isaiah 32: 17

 

It does seem that there is a very wide spread misunderstanding of righteousness in our world. When righteousness is mentioned many of us quickly envision people who are red-faced with anger shouting and waving signs of condemnation in their faces. Even if they have never actually encountered such a scene, the images of them have been portrayed so extensively in our media that they have created a lasting impression. It is, at least in part, a misguided sense of righteousness that has caused division and hurt in many churches throughout history, and this same failure to understand God’s view of righteousness has fueled the energy behind far too many damaging attacks on people that were carried out in the name of God.

 

I would submit that God does not actually hold a view of righteousness. It is not something that is external. There is no force of nature or other influence that can bend, turn, or reshape righteousness. Rather, God is righteousness, for He is its author and its only true source. It is who He is. If we think that this foundational concept of living in a manner that is right with God and that is in total conformity with His will is worthwhile and desirous, then we need to look to the author, Himself, for the knowledge and the understanding that makes the necessary personal transformation possible. God’s Word is filled with descriptions of the complex blend of characteristics that make up righteous living. In His dealings with humanity God has employed love, grace, mercy, justice, holiness, and wisdom in order to interact with us in a righteous manner. He leads us into doing the same in every aspect of life.

 

If we truly desire peace, especially the sort of peace that is deeply rooted in our souls and that is not easily shaken by the events of life; we need to dwell near its source which is righteousness. So, it is essential that we claim property, build our homes, and establish our communities at God’s feet and fully in His presence. This is both a literal and spiritual location. It is spiritual in the sense that it all begins with a relationship with Christ, that wisdom and guidance are continually provided by the Holy Spirit, and that, in Christ, we are now citizens of an unseen but very real Kingdom of God. This location is literal by virtue of the community of faith that God desires for us to actively engage with. It is also made tangible by the way that we interact with and respond to our culture, for Christ calls us to function as living and breathing, image of God revealing citizens of our world. When we trust God enough to allow righteousness to reign in our hearts and minds, we will know the sort of peace that establishes a confident quietness in our souls.