April 21, 2008

€œThere is no peace, says my God, for the wicked
(Isaiah 57:21)

by Pastor George Van Alstine

It seemed the other way around, when the prophet Isaiah spoke these words. Those who were trying to be faithful to God were being overwhelmed by the oppression of “the wicked,â€? those who had no regard for God’s law and God’s will. In spite of this systematic injustice, God guarantees the faithful ones, through Isaiah, comfort, and healing and fruit (verses 2, 18, 19). Best of all, he promises them peace:
“Peace, peace to the far and the near, says the Lord.â€?  (verse 19)

This peace he promises is not freedom from oppression, for they will continue to be vulnerable, easy targets for those who have no regard for God’s way. The peace God promises is the deep, inner satisfaction that comes from being in harmony with God’s values and purposes.

By contrast, the wicked cannot know peace. This is not because God judges and punishes them, but because they are punished by their own actions. The root meaning of the Hebrew word used for “the wickedâ€? is “loose.â€? The evolution of the word’s meaning seems to be that, when people become “looseâ€? with God’s law, with society’s standards, with their family’s values, they behave in ways which both God and humans consider to be “wicked.â€?

This “looseâ€? idea behind the Hebrew word for “wickedâ€? may have inspired the powerful metaphor Isaiah uses in verse 20:
“The wicked are like the tossing sea that cannot keep still; its waters toss up mire and mud.â€?
When a person has no anchor, no solid point of attachment, he or she is never truly in control. Every wave, every gust of wind has determining power. It’s ironic that a person who by a mighty effort breaks free from God is never truly free, but  a slave to raw natural forces, like the wind and waves of sickness, financial loss, failed relationships, doubt, worry and fear. All kinds of “mire and mudâ€? can be stirred up in the turmoil.
The peace that God promises can’t be touched by any of these, because it is anchored in the unchangeable goodness of God himself. He is lavish in spreading to all who open themselves to his love
“Peace, peace to the far and the near.â€?
“There is no peace for the wicked.â€?