Thursday Morning Devotion (When God Puts On His Armor)

(15) Truth was missing,
Those who shun evil had withdrawn.
YHWH looked,
And regarded the lack of justice as evil.
(16) And he saw that there was nobody,
And he was horrified that nobody was interceding.
So his own arm brought salvation,
And his righteousness sustained him.
(17) And he put on righteousness as an armor suit,
With a helmet of salvation on his head.
He dressed himself up in vengeance as clothing,
And covered himself in wrath as a cloak.
(18) According to their deeds he will repay them,
Anger on his foes,
Retribution for his enemies,
He will wreak vengeance on the coastlands!
(19) People in the west will fear YHWH’s name,
And from the east they will fear his glory,
Because his glory will come like a swift flowing river,
Driven on by YHWH’s wind.
(20) But he comes as a redeemer to Zion,
And to the rebels of Jacob who repent, YHWH’s word! — Isaiah 59:15-20

Many of us pray for God’s armor, but we think of God’s armor as what God has for us. It’s not the armor that God puts on.

But our passage today tells us of armor that God puts on and what he does with that armor. And first, I would note that it starts with things that we might find familiar, helmet of salvation and a breastplate of righteousness. In this way God’s armor is similar to our own.

But God also wears another some additional armor: Anger and vengeance. I think we do well to notice that God does not tell us that vengeance is bad. He tells us that vengeance is his (Deuteronomy 32:35). Often we talk about giving up revenge in the church as though people should not be called to account for what they do wrong. That is not the point at all. The point is that we are simply too amateur at getting vengeance. God is the professional. God knows how to do it.

What’s our problem? Well, there are many. We’re not really certain of who we need to avenge ourselves on. Most commonly we’re going to jump on the wrong person and make them pay. We have no idea just how much vengeance is supposed to be enough. We don’t seem to have an on/off switch for our vengeance, and we never really get the accounts squared away. Further, we are rarely completely in the right so that we can clothe ourselves with righteousness and salvation, and then throw garments of vengeance and anger over that, and go get the right person.

But mostly while we can stir up righteous anger, we rarely truly put on God’s helmet of salvation. Even when we pray morning by morning to put on God’s helmet of salvation, do we think of it merely as a helmet to protect us, or is it something we’re out to provide for everyone we meet?

You see, when God goes out to avenge, he also goes out to save, and that’s an important point. Next time you’re thinking of getting some vengeance as you feel righteous anger, ask yourself this: How many people am I going to save when I accomplish my vengeance on those who have wronged me? Feel deflated? It does that to me.

But don’t simply drop the topic. It’s easy to miss the first two lines. Let me repeat them:

(15) Truth was missing,
Those who shun evil had withdrawn.

Often in the church we lose the ability to confront sin, to rebuke, and to correct. We don’t like the word rebuke. It’s frightening. The ‘rebukee’ could be driven from God. The ‘rebuker’ can become proud and arrogant and require rebuke himself. But it is very important to see that God expected people to do something about the sin. He expected something to be done to correct it. Nobody was interceding or intervening, and somebody was supposed to be doing that.

I think we don’t realize how little is necessary to actually counteract evil. We think we have to get on our high horse and rebuke the other people loudly in the church, letting them and everybody know how righteous we are and how much we hate evil. But I think it’s simpler than that. Often it is as simple as just saying “no.” When someone wants to pass along some juicy gossip, don’t listen and then walk away silently, congratulating yourself because it stopped with you. At the first sign of gossip, say, “I’m sorry, I’m not interested in rumors. Please don’t pass them on to me.” Then remember not to go tell someone else about the person who tried to gossip to you. Just let it stop right there.

When you’re in a group, and somebody suggests something wrong, you don’t need to preach a sermon on hell fire, just say, “I don’t do that.” You’d be amazed how often one person with a conscience in a group can sway the whole group.

Will you be there for God when he looks? How can you stand up to evil today?

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