Judgment & Restoration: Delivered Over & Delivered From – Brad Jersak
“In Isaiah 26.9-10, judgment is identified in terms that instruct the inhabitants of the world and reveal a greater purpose toward Israel and mankind. Judgment is not an end goal but a means towards the greater purpose of restoration and salvation. In Isaiah, the purpose of God’s judgments is revealed as instructive and redemptive rather than destructive. That judgment is unto salvation and redemption is a major theme in the book of Isaiah as well as other prophets… In Isaiah 26:9-10 judgment is unto restoration. Divine Judgment is meant to bring deliverance as well as teach righteousness to all the inhabitants of the world. “ –Nico Deschner
“Divine Judgment: A judgment based on God’s love and commitment to restoration. The restorative judgment of God gives no warrant to a schadenfreude–a yearning to see harm inflicted on others. Jesus has closed the book on that kind of lust for vengeance.” –Brian Zahnd
When speaking of the judgments of God, it is helpful to review the expression “give over” or “deliver” in Isaiah and throughout the Bible. To say that God “gives over” or “delivers” a people to destruction is the foundation for understanding “wrath” as divine consent. That is, judgment is intrinsic to sin (as in Greg Boyd’s Crucifixion of the Warrior God) rather than God’s active, direct destruction (doing violent harm). This also becomes foundational for how “wrath” is used in Rom. 1, where “wrath” is described by the phrase “God gave them over” repeatedly. It is also the reason Rabbis began to see “wrath” (violent anger) as either (1) a metaphor for consequences or (2) a synonym for the destroyer/Satan while they understand and portray God and his the Messiah as the deliverer from wrath rather than the agent wrath.
What then are the “judgments” of God? The tragic consequences of sin and evil oppression of the enemy become divine judgments precisely as and because God delivers us from them, refashioning and redeeming the wages of our own sin (death) into occasions for his restorative purposes.
But in speaking of God’s redemptive purposes, we must beware of making God the cause or agent of the judgment. Sin is the cause, Babylon is the agent, while God is the co-suffering redeemer. That said, the judgments are HIS judgments in that God takes what the enemy meant for evil and transforms our tragedies into something so good that you know God was not simply reacting. He was actively initiating to weave our sin and self-destruction into his greater tapestry. While the judgment is ultimately redemptive, the prophecies are also instructive, especially to remind us that God didn’t just abandon his children (another major theme in Isaiah). God never leaves nor forsakes us. But God does honor our authentic otherness and gives us the dignity of choosing our foolish painful NO. Indeed, he bears our NO in his body on the tree to say his YES to us. Thus, the tree of condemnation becomes the tree of life. He delivers himself over to the Cross to deliver us from the wages of sin.