Study Guide

Book of Isaiah Justice and Judgment

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Justice and Judgment

Justice and judgment—next to, and not behind, mercy and compassion—is probably the biggest theme in Isaiah. God continually visits his wrathful judgment on everyone, constantly, throughout the course of the book. Isaiah basically exists, as a person, to warn about God's impending judgments and to urge people to change their ways before it's too late (which, you know, they mainly don't do).

But God, in Isaiah, isn't mainly concerned with whether people are following all the rites and rituals. He wants to see them put their hearts into their actions, and behave with devotion and sincerity. He isn't punishing people for failing to offer him sacrifices. He's punishing them for only offering him lip-service, and for failing to treat the less fortunate (particularly, widows and orphans) with compassion. He's basically trying to get everyone to straighten up, fly right, and treat each other (and him) with respect. Doesn't seem too much to ask, right?

Questions About Justice and Judgment

  1. Do you think God (as portrayed in the Book of Isaiah) is more just than merciful? Or is it the other way around? Why do you think so?
  2. Is God truly just? Why or why not? That's one of Isaiah's big points (that God is just), but the question's still up for debate.
  3. Does God's justice make people behave better, overall? Does it rehabilitate people in addition to just taking revenge on them? Why do you think so?
  4. Are people like Sennacherib given a fair and just shake? If their egotism and destructive tendencies are used by God to fulfill his judgment, is it just when they end up getting destroyed in the end too? Did they ever really have a chance? What reasons do you have for your answer?

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