“In that day this song will be sung in the land of Judah: “We have a strong city; he sets up salvation as walls and bulwarks. Open the gates, that the righteous nation that keeps faith may enter in. You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” (Isaiah 26:1-3 ESV)
Isaiah likened the Kingdom of God to a strong city, a fortress, one where God dwells with the redeemed. Our strength as the people of God is in Jesus Christ our Lord. He has delivered us by His cross from sin and death. He gives us peace in the midst of chaos and suffering.
Perhaps the ancient Jews who heard these prophetic words as Isaiah spoke them thought he was referring to Jerusalem for at the time good King Josiah had launched sweeping religious reforms throughout Judah. God would be pleased with them now, so they thought. Josiah knew that whatever he did would not change the determined judgment of the Lord. He undertook reform not because it would assuage God’s wrath, but because it was the right thing to do. He acted with righteousness even though he received no benefit from doing so.
Many people today would not do as Josiah did if they knew it would have no benefit to them personally. They want the peace and joy God promises but without the cross. They want to know what the advantages of Christianity are to them before they will believe. What’s in it for me? Will it heal my illness? Will it make me happy? Will it make me prosperous and rich? And many churches, preachers and individual Christians go out to their way to accommodate them to make Christianity more palatable. Yet the message of Isaiah is that we should do the right thing because it honors God, no matter what the cost to us. And the good news is that the Lord will give us peace.