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REFLECTION: The Righteous – Taken Away

A fact not understood in Isaiah’s day…..




The righteous perisheth, and no man layeth it to heart: and merciful men are taken away, none considering that the righteous is taken away from the evil to come. He shall enter into peace…      (Isaiah 57:1-2)





There is an interesting thought that can be pursued from the opening verses of Isaiah 57. The prophet was living at a time when God’s people were characterized by ungodly, unrighteous and idolatrous behaviour. Their spiritual leaders were blind and unfit for the sacred responsibilities they had. Lacking understanding of what was happening before their very eyes, they had become complacent and lethargic. Although the people were going through the motions of religion outwardly, the inward reality had simply disappeared.


This is something that can easily happen. The Lord Jesus often confronted the religious leaders of His day who professed to be faithfully serving God. He could see that their religion had become nothing more than a formality and lacked the real heart that God was looking for. It was just a facade. In Isaiah’s day, corruption had spread through society, and idolatry prevailed across the land.  God was taken from granted and His blessing expected, but in reality those professing to be His people were far from Him.





An important lesson was not being grasped by Isaiah’s fellow-countrymen, and the prophet had to declare that no man was laying it to heart or coming to terms with it. What did they fail to see? We are told that the righteous were perishing and the merciful were being taken away. Were the righteous really perishing? Being “lost” while in their righteousness would contradict other Scriptures and cannot be what is meant. In fact, the remainder of the verse makes plain what had to be understood. The righteous were not missing out or losing what God had given them. Along with the merciful, they were being removed from a corrupt society and taken somewhere better! They were being delivered from the judgment to come and had entered into peace (v.2).


Isaiah’s listeners had not grasped the fact that the departed had a great advantage over the others. Those who remained would face the judgment of a holy God if they did not repent.





We can apply the words the righteous perisheth to the age in which we live. Is it not true that righteous people are disappearing from society? At one time – not too long ago – a far greater proportion of people in Britain were God-fearing, and the Lord’s Day was respected. Numbers attending church services were higher than today, and many Sunday Schools were flourishing. Even if people were not Christians themselves, Christianity was usually given some respect. Today, true Christian believers who seek to live by the standards of the Bible are in a minority and face an ever-increasing and fierce opposition from a politically-correct society that is blatantly anti-Christian.


Many of us can probably remember with affection godly believers whom the Lord has removed – some taken in illness before they might have expected to die. While we miss them greatly, to wish them back would be wrong. They have entered into peace, and are spared all the unpleasantness of life down here. If we could bring them back, many of them would be appalled at the frightening moral deterioration that there has been since their day. No, we would not want them to experience the ungodly conditions that prevail today.


All those who have been made righteous through the work of Christ and have departed from this scene are in the immediate presence of the Lord – enjoying His peace. We who love the Lord and are still here on earth can look forward by His grace to the moment when He will call us to our eternal Home as well.