208: Isaiah 42:21
365 Prophecies: Prophecy 208
The Messiah shall clearly define the true meaning of God’s law.
Old Testament Prediction:
Isaiah 42:21 The LORD is well pleased for His righteousness’ sake; He will exalt the law and make it honorable.
New Testament Fulfillment:
Matthew 5:17-48 “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’ But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca!’ shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire. Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Agree with your adversary quickly, while you are on the way with him, lest your adversary deliver you to the judge, the judge hand you over to the officer, and you be thrown into prison. Assuredly, I say to you, you will by no means get out of there till you have paid the last penny. You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. Furthermore it has been said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I say to you that whoever divorces his wife for any reason except sexual immorality causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a woman who is divorced commits adultery. Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform your oaths to the Lord.’ But I say to you, do not swear at all: neither by heaven, for it is God’s throne; nor by the earth, for it is His footstool; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. Nor shall you swear by your head, because you cannot make one hair white or black. But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one. You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also. And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away. You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.” (UKJV)
The fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy is found in Matthew 5:17-48. As Jesus takes the leaders of Israel through a list of 7 points in the Law of God, He tells them:
You have heard that it was said… But I say to You…
The Pharisees had developed their own interpretation of the law of God, which was described as their traditions. See Prophecy 192.
Jesus informs the leaders of Israel that their understanding of the law was not correct. In saying this, He was elevating His authority above all other authority. Only God has the right to make law and the ability to correctly interpret those laws. This is a seldom noticed section of scripture which really speaks to the true identity of Jesus. By stating, but I say to you, Jesus is claiming that He is God, the architect of all laws.
Isaiah writes that upon the arrival of the Messiah, He will clearly define and explain what the true meaning of God’s law is. Perhaps none of the elders of Israel who had read this verse of prophecy really understood its correct meaning. It certainly appears that Isaiah was describing the law as being misunderstood until the arrival of the Messiah; He would exalt the law and make it honorable.
It was not until Jesus arrived as the Messiah, and spoke these words to the Pharisees, that anyone correctly understood their intended meaning. By His authoritative exposition of the scriptures, Jesus identified Himself as the author of these laws.
The Pharisees had interpreted the law of God as external. Jesus brought us to an awareness that God is most interested in the inner person—the heart—where the will and the emotions reside.
A man may never commit adultery in his life; but all men, at some point, have looked at a woman with lust. Most people will not take the life of another human being, but Jesus said—to be angry with a person in our heart is the same as committing the physical act of murder.
Everything that we do begins within our heart. As we think, our emotions are stirred deep within us. Many times, long before a person ever carries out an action, he has already contemplated what he will do within his heart. There are occasions when a person has not taken time to consider his actions and simply reacts during a particular event. Even what appears to be impulsive actions, often have come from a prior moment when a person has pondered and considered what they wanted to do when provoked.
God looks at the heart first to see why we say and do things, before judging our actions. It is not enough to be righteous externally. We must endeavor to change our heart and also make it obedient.
This should have come as no surprise to the leaders of Israel. Upon the establishment of David’s throne, God chose a man who did not appear, to most people, to be anyone special. God, however, was looking past the physical appearance and into the heart.
1 Samuel 16:7 But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”
The knowledge that God is looking into our heart in determining his judgment of our actions, will either give us a great deal of comfort or cause us tremendous despair.
For the person who has a heart after the Lord and genuinely wants to please Him, this will come as good news. For no matter how much we may love the Lord, we will always fail to be the person externally that we hope to be. Our sin nature will often cause us to fail; and when we do, we become discouraged. To know that the Lord looks past our failures and sees into our heart, understanding that we genuinely want to please Him, this knowledge can be a great source of comfort and encouragement.
Conversely, the person who is trying ever so diligently to do all the right things outwardly, while in his heart he is not really interested in pleasing the Lord—to discover that God looks at the heart, this knowledge will cause considerable discomfort. If the Lord can see into our heart, then we cannot fool Him. He knows when we are sincere and when we are just going through the motions, without a true heart of love for Him.
One of the wonderful accomplishments of Jesus while He was here on the earth was to show us who God really is: To open our eyes to His true intent and purpose for creating the laws He instituted.
The Pharisees loved to exercise judgment in cases of adultery, Sabbath breaking, hand washing and defilement with sinners. However, they neglected the greater requirements of the law: Justice and mercy. Jesus taught that the heart of God’s law is mercy. The laws of God were made to be a blessing and a help to man, not a burden and a curse.
People who have been trapped in a repeated cycle of sin carry such a heavy burden of guilt in their heart. What they need is a way out. They need someone who can forgive their sins and give them a new start. The person who is trapped in a vicious cycle of physical or emotional abuse in their marriage does not need to be told that they must endure that abuse for the rest of their life. They need mercy.
Jesus taught us as the Messiah, the true intent of all the laws of God. No one had even a glimpse of what the law really meant until Jesus came and explained it to us. There has never been another human being like Jesus who so thoroughly explained to us what God’s purposes were when He spoke to us concerning God’s law.
Jesus simplified and summed up the entire purpose of the law of God with this:
Mark 12:28-31 Then one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, perceiving that He had answered them well, asked Jesus, “Which is the first commandment of all?” 29 Jesus answered him, “The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one. 30 And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. 31 And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
There is only One God, and we are to love Him with every fiber of our being. Secondly, we are to love other people with the same kind of love and consideration that we show ourselves. The entire heart of God’s law is centered on Love. If we love someone sincerely, then we will always want to do those things which please that person. No one will have to tell us what to do because it will be written on our heart. We love, therefore, we do our best to please and to honor those who are the objects of our affections.
John 14:15 “If you love Me, keep My commandments.”
Many people read this verse as a scolding from Jesus that if we truly love Him, we will obey Him. This is not at all what Jesus meant. The Lord was trying to explain to us that if we are in love with Him, then it will be very easy for us to do what He says. Those people whom we love, admire, respect, and long to be with, we want to always do those things that please them. The key in obedience to the Lord is to fall in love with Jesus so deeply that you will just naturally want to please Him in all you say and do.
If we would just follow this greatest of laws—to Love the Lord above all other people and things, and love others at least as much as we love ourselves—then we could all live in complete peace and harmony. Only when Jesus returns to earth to rule over all men will Love be the banner over us all.