Isaiah 32:17 “The work of righteousness will be peace, and the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance forever.”
In physics, energy is often described as the ‘ability to do work’. Work is defined as the application of a force on a body that moves it in a particular direction. Reality always mirrors the great spiritual principles by which God governs the universe. The greater spiritual law that Isaiah describes in this verse is about the direction towards good that righteousness always moves a man or a nation.
Jesus gave us a good practical rule by which we could identify people and their work by their ‘effects’; “You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit.” (Matthew 7:16-18)
Scripture renders this spiritual principle in these general terms; “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22,23) The agency operating is the Holy Spirit. His effect or the absence of His effect is clear in us and in our nation.
Why then do our politicians, social scientists and other great thinkers become so perplexed by the dismal state of affairs in our world? They are at a loss to explain it! There seems to be as many conflicting explanations for the mayhem as there are conflicts in the world. A few are now beginning to admit the world we live in is broken and fallen.
Matt K. Lewis writing for the National Post admits; “We live in a fallen world. We can try our best to manage wars, to be smart, to minimize them. This is our duty, our responsibility. But the notion of a world that is entirely peaceful seems increasingly utopian. And the idea that we can find a foreign policy template that always works is, itself, a dangerous concept, tantamount to flying too close to the sun.” (National Post – Monday. Oct. 13, 2014) Hubris is the effect of the spirit of pride in self that is deeply embedded into mankind. A dark and evil force is also at work in the world. Some are blinded and undone by it.
Few will speak of the underlying spiritual causes of the terrible situation the world is in. Why? The world is against God’s righteousness. It always has been; “Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain?The kings of the earth rise up and the rulers band together against the Lord and against his anointed, saying, ‘Let us break their chains and throw off their shackles.’” (Psalm 2:1-3) The world of man is in rebellion and will not follow God; “Where there is no revelation, people cast off restraint….” (Proverbs 29:18)
What do we see at work in the world – what effects are evident on the world stage? Mayhem – the opposite of peace and assurance. Scripture tells us why; “. . . the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.” (1 John 5:19) We, were part of it but not any more; “. . . in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience.” (Ephesians 2:2) That’s why no one in worldly authority confesses to the true underlying causes of our sad state of affairs. Today, the devil hides in plain sight and few will admit to seeing his work. Many are blinded to it.
World leaders have summits looking for ways to make peace. Even, some religious leaders will tell you that with good will, work and effort mankind can establish peace in this world. All to no avail and the misleading of many. This is the time of great deception Jesus warns us; “For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.” (Matthew 24:24)
What will be the end of history? Certainly not what Francis Fukuyama predicted about twenty five years ago: “What we may be witnessing is not just the end of the Cold War, or the passing of a particular period of post-war history, but the end of history as such: that is, the end point of mankind’s ideological evolution and the universalization of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government.” What pride and hubris.
Jesus through His Word tells us the truth; “You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.” (Matthew 24:6,7,8) Scripture tells us how it will all end; “. . .at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:10,11) This is the final work of righteousness in the world.
The work of His Spirit brings peace – one person at a time and not in the top-down heavy-handed way of the world. Jesus told us that His eternal work of righteousness is here and now and for all time; “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.” (John 14:27) Through Him we overcome all the trouble; “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
Come Lord Jesus!