Isaiah 59 & Matthew 7

Isaiah 59

    Behold, the LORD's hand is not shortened, that it cannot save,
        or his ear dull, that it cannot hear;
    but your iniquities have made a separation
        between you and your God,
    and your sins have hidden his face from you
        so that he does not hear.
    For your hands are defiled with blood
        and your fingers with iniquity;
    your lips have spoken lies;
        your tongue mutters wickedness.
    No one enters suit justly;
        no one goes to law honestly;
    they rely on empty pleas, they speak lies,
        they conceive mischief and give birth to iniquity.
    They hatch adders' eggs;
        they weave the spider's web;
    he who eats their eggs dies,
        and from one that is crushed a viper is hatched.
    Their webs will not serve as clothing;
        men will not cover themselves with what they make.
    Their works are works of iniquity,
        and deeds of violence are in their hands.
    Their feet run to evil,
        and they are swift to shed innocent blood;
    their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity;
        desolation and destruction are in their highways.
    The way of peace they do not know,
        and there is no justice in their paths;
    they have made their roads crooked;
        no one who treads on them knows peace.
    Therefore justice is far from us,
        and righteousness does not overtake us;
    we hope for light, and behold, darkness,
        and for brightness, but we walk in gloom.
    We grope for the wall like the blind;
        we grope like those who have no eyes;
    we stumble at noon as in the twilight,
        among those in full vigor we are like dead men.
    We all growl like bears;
        we moan and moan like doves;
    we hope for justice, but there is none;
        for salvation, but it is far from us.
    For our transgressions are multiplied before you,
        and our sins testify against us;
    for our transgressions are with us,
        and we know our iniquities:
    transgressing, and denying the LORD,
        and turning back from following our God,
    speaking oppression and revolt,
        conceiving and uttering from the heart lying words.
        Justice is turned back,
        and righteousness stands far away;
    for truth has stumbled in the public squares,
        and uprightness cannot enter.
    Truth is lacking,
        and he who departs from evil makes himself a prey.
        The LORD saw it, and it displeased him
        that there was no justice.
    He saw that there was no man,
        and wondered that there was no one to intercede;
    then his own arm brought him salvation,
        and his righteousness upheld him.
    He put on righteousness as a breastplate,
        and a helmet of salvation on his head;
    he put on garments of vengeance for clothing,
        and wrapped himself in zeal as a cloak.
    According to their deeds, so will he repay,
        wrath to his adversaries, repayment to his enemies;
        to the coastlands he will render repayment.
    So they shall fear the name of the LORD from the west,
        and his glory from the rising of the sun;
    for he will come like a rushing stream,
        which the wind of the LORD drives.
    “And a Redeemer will come to Zion,
        to those in Jacob who turn from transgression,” declares the LORD.
        “And as for me, this is my covenant with them,” says the LORD: “My Spirit that is upon you, and my words that I have put in your mouth, shall not depart out of your mouth, or out of the mouth of your offspring, or out of the mouth of your children's offspring,” says the LORD, “from this time forth and forevermore.”

(Isaiah 59 ESV)

Matthew 7

    “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye.

    “Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you.

    “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!

    “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.

    “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.

    “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.

    “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

    “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”

    And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes.

(Matthew 7 ESV)

Matthew 7: As Jesus wraps up His Sermon on the Mount, He takes advantage of His particular geographical location. Tradition holds that Jesus and this crowd were gathered upon a specific ridge of hills overlooking the Sea of Galilee. This small sea was known for its white sandy beaches but also well known for its sudden storms that could unleash a violent onslaught of wind and rain. Although the sand was rock hard during the hot summer months, a wise builder knew that in order to have a home that could withstand the sea’s violent storms he must do the harder work of digging several feet below the surface in order to place his foundation upon the solid bedrock.

Jesus concludes His message by declaring that there is no other solid foundation for life than to build your life upon Him and the things that He has taught. Building your life upon any other religious establishment, philosophy, or set of beliefs is the equivalent of building upon the sea’s deceptive sandy surface that will eventually lead to your tragic downfall.

A disciple’s faith is fundamentally quite basic - we read what Jesus has said, and then we go and do what He has said to do. It may be a more difficult task, but there is no alternative option. Eternal life is found in the depths of this faith in Jesus and His word alone.