The Expository Files

 "Repairer of the Breach"

Isaiah 58:9-12

It was about 700 B.C. Because the people had fallen away, and despite the calls issued by prophets sent by God to them to repent and to return to the Lord, the people of the land, for the most part, continued to ignore the righteousness and justice of God. Because of this, the nation would suffer great losses at the hands of cruel enemies. But there was hope; hope that tragedy would give way to repentance; a seeking for God and a spiritual renewal. The prophet Isaiah, in the midst of national turmoil, said this: "Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; You will cry, and He will say, 'Here I am.' If you remove the yoke from your midst, The pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness, And if you give yourself to the hungry, And satisfy the desire of the afflicted, Then your light will rise in darkness, And your gloom will become like midday. And the Lord will continually guide you, And satisfy your desire in scorched places, And give strength to your bones; And you will be like a watered garden, And like a spring of water whose waters do not fail. And those from among you will rebuild the ancient ruins; You will raise up the age-old foundations; And you will be called the repairer of the breach, The restorer of the streets in which to dwell." (Isaiah. 58:9-12).

Today, as then, a great and necessary part of our security as a nation is a strong moral and spiritual foundation. Without that, of what use is it to try and save the structure if the foundation is weak? Men and women of faith who love their nation and the righteous principles upon which it was built are not ashamed to look to God for strength and guidance, not only in times of stress and tragedy, but also on good days of prosperity and joy.

Rebuild With God
There are often calls to rebuild in times of destruction and tragedy. When such destruction comes as a result of efforts by evil men, there is also justified anger that accompanies the sorrow and resolve. All these emotions are understandable.

Also, to be admired during such times, are qualities such as courage, generosity and compassion. These are good qualities; qualities that ought to belong to us all. They are Christ-like, and as disciples of Christ we ought to have the faith upon which these qualities can be ours and grow.

But without dependence upon God, a nation who pledges to rebuild after disaster is rather arrogant. In recent years, some of the very source of our national strength has been sapped by unrighteous government leaders. In a nation where the prime time media constantly belittles moral and spiritual principles found in the Scriptures of God, the very foundation has been undermined. God cannot be mocked! As Thomas Jefferson once asked, "Do we think that His righteousness will sleep forever?" He felt far too little attention was being paid by our nation's leadership to the justness of God.

Ingredients For Success
The Bible records times men have sought to rebuild without God. Tom Daschle, Senate majority leader, quoted from Isaiah concerning the rebuilding process in our own nation's present tragedy. He picked an unfortunate passage, evidently not understanding that the context is very negative. He quoted Isaiah 9:10. The context reads this way: "The Lord sends a message against Jacob, And it falls on Israel. And all the people know it, That is, Ephraim and the inhabitants of Samaria, Asserting in pride and in arrogance of heart: 'The bricks have fallen down, But we will rebuild with smooth stones; The sycamores have been cut down, But we will replace them with cedars." (Isaiah 9:8-10). He only quoted the final part (starting with "The bricks...", not bothering to notice that this was an obstinate statement made by the faithless that they were going to rebuild apart from God. He probably did not even know, and probably few people do, but certainly one of his speech writers needs a good talking to.

The nation of Edom also had the idea that they would rebuild. The Lord said that, because of their wickedness, He would not allow their rebuilding be successful. He said, "Though Edom says, 'We have been beaten down, but we will return and build up the ruins"; thus says the Lord of hosts, "They may build, but I will tear down; and men will call them the wicked territory, and the people toward whom the Lord is indignant forever.'" (Malachi 1:4).

The point is not that our nation should not respond to tragedy with compassion, courage and resolve; of course we should! But rather, that we should rebuild on the same foundation upon which our founding fathers built; principles of righteousness, justice and faith recognized as universally true because we are creatures of a righteous and just Creator. "Righteousness exalts a nation, But sin is a disgrace to any people." (Proverbs 14:34). It takes more than lip service to God during times of tragedy to be truly blessed by Him.

Repairing the Breach
There will be massive efforts to rebuild from the ruins after tragedy. As we saw, Isaiah referred to the success of those who rebuild when their efforts are combined with faith and righteousness. He said, "And those from among you will rebuild the ancient ruins; You will raise up the age-old foundations; And you will be called the repairer of the breach, The restorer of the streets in which to dwell." (Isaiah 59:12).

For repairing injured bodies, physicians, nurses and medical know-how are needed. For repairing ruined buildings, contractors, steelworkers and engineers are needed. For protecting freedom, military and civil law enforcement personnel are needed. For good and righteous civil laws, there is need for good and righteous civil lawmakers and judges. Our nation certainly needs all these things.

But it is not enough if our nation is to be as great as it can be. To work upon the moral and spiritual foundation upon which something good can be built, where would the workers be found?

If you are a faithful disciple of Christ, that would be you, standing for truth and righteousness every day. In short, it is up to each Christian (and it always has been) to live for Christ in a meaningful and dedicated way each day. Just as a doctor needs to be committed to his work in healing the injured, the Christian needs to be dedicated to his or her faith in order to be useful in his or her field; which is the field of discipleship (1 Corinthians 3:9).

Jesus once said, "Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes, and look on the fields, that they are white for harvest." (John 4:35). Look around. They still are! Will you be called a "repairer of the breach"?

By Jon W. Quinn
From Expository Files 9-4; April 2002