Time to Rebuild
Psalm 80 and Isaiah 5 (written some 300 years later), present us with parallel passages: Israel is typified as a vine that God had removed from Egypt and replanted in the promised land.
In both cases, the writer acknowledges that the vine that God had replanted is in a bad state of disrepair. The Psalmist writes that “It is burned with fire, it is cut down…” (Ps.80:16), while God speaking through Isaiah declares that though He expected it to produce good grapes, “…it produced only worthless ones” (Ps.80:2).
In both cases, the bad state of the vineyard has not come about suddenly, or by accident. In fact, God Himself has contributed to the vineyard’s degenerate state. The Psalmist asks God, “Why have You broken down its hedges, so that all who pass that way eat its fruit?” (Ps.80:12), while God declares through Isaiah that “…I will break down its wall and it will become trampled ground. I will lay it waste; it will not be pruned or hoed, but briars and thorns will come up” (Isa.5:5-6).
Why? Israel is being judged.
These two unflattering Old Testament depictions of Israel, are pictures of the Church today, which isn’t in a good state. But the promise of God concerning Judah and Jerusalem “in the last days…” (Isa.2:2) was very encouraging. God said that
Many peoples will come and say, ‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; that He may teach us concerning His ways and that we may walk in His paths.’ For the law will go forth from Zion and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem (Isa.2:3).
How can the Church be restored from its broken-down state? Through Jesus Christ, and His law. Isaiah makes this clear.
Behold My Servant, whom I uphold; My chosen one in whom My soul delights. I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the nations. He will not cry out or raise His voice, nor make His voice heard in the street. A bruised reed He will not break and a dimly burning wick He will not extinguish; He will faithfully bring forth justice. He will not be disheartened or crushed until He has established justice in the earth; and the coastlands will wait expectantly for His law (Isa.42:1-4).
This passage refers to “justice” 3 times, and once to “law.” Isaiah 2:3 tells us that “…the law will go forth from Zion…” What could Isaiah be referring to, other than God’s law?
We know that this passage is referring to Jesus Christ, because Matthew quotes from it in relation to our Lord (Mat.12:17-21).
Now it is incumbent on us to do what Isaiah declares in another place.
Those from you will rebuild the ancient ruins; you will raise up the age-old foundations; and you will be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of the streets in which to dwell (Isa.58:12).
Anyone today who claims that “…you are not under law but under grace” (Ro.6:14), means we are entitled to utterly reject the law of the Old Testament, has simply misunderstood the Bible. Yes, we are not saved by law, or by keeping the law. That is the very thing that Jesus and Paul were contending with in their confrontations with the Pharisees.
Grace doesn’t mean the rejection of law. Grace is the context of law.
If it’s true that, “…the coastlands will wait expectantly for His law” (Isa.42:4), and that “…the law will go forth from Zion…” (Isa.2:3), could this really be anything other than God’s law?