A Worn Out Garment

Moth damage in a Civil War uniform.

After converting to Christianity, I quickly learned there is a lot of hostility towards God, and Christians become objects of that hostility. In my experience, people angry with God either don’t know him, or asked him for something and he did not comply with their demands. According to James, when God does not answer a prayer, we have asked amiss (James 4:1-4). A rare person acknowledges that a prayer remained unanswered because the petition was self-serving, but that is another subject. The fact is God is able to do whatever we ask, but he always responds in the best interest of everyone involved.

Isaiah Chapter 50 assures us that God’s arm is long enough to ransom us, and he has the strength to rescue us. Then we encounter a description of a future event; for Isaiah a future event, for us ancient history. To the Christian the passage is familiar because it describes Jesus’ determination to obey God in the midst of suffering.

The passage is written in the first person as though Jesus himself were talking. “I have not been rebellious; I have not drawn back. I offered my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who pulled out my beard; I did not hide my face from mocking and spitting” (Isaiah 50:6-8). Then Jesus explained why he willingly suffered such abuse. He set his face like flint to go to Jerusalem, because he knew that he would not be put to shame or suffer disgrace, yet that is exactly what happened to him. Jesus endured because he believed his vindication would happen after he suffered.

There is a bitter sweetness to many of God’s actions. The people of Jesus day believed God had punished him. They were right, well, almost right. They thought Jesus deserved to suffer. They did not understand that he paid the price for the sins of humanity. Jesus submitted to God’s judgment against sin, so God would not be obligated to punish us for our sins.

God vindicated Jesus when he raised him from the dead, but he only showed himself alive to those who believed in him. Most of unbelieving Israel knew he was a great prophet, but in their minds he came to a shameful end.

In the passage Jesus challenged his accusers, “Who then will bring charges against me? Let us face each other! Who is my accuser? Let him confront me!” (Isaiah 50:8). Isaiah’s message is clear, when God vindicates someone, no one will be able to condemn that person. Yet many continue to accuse and condemn God. When will the accusers be silenced?

After Jesus challenged the reader to a personal confrontation he said, “They will all wear out like a garment; the moths will eat them up” (Isaiah 50:9). Who will wear out and be eaten up? They will. “They” indicate the people who condemn God with charges of wrongdoing and false accusations.

Have you noticed that “they” are still alive and well on planet earth? Christians deal with them all the time. “They” are still here because of the way “they” will wear out and be eaten up. They will wear away and be eaten up like a moth eaten garment. Consider the size of a moth compared to the size of a garment. Now imagine something smaller than an adult moth. The moth only lays the eggs, its larvae eat the garment. One garment could feed a family of moth larvae for generations.

Several verses in Isaiah Chapter 50 have a familiar ring because Paul referred to them in Romans. The Bible teaches us not to fear the reproach of men or be terrified by their insults. If God is for us no one can successfully be against us. Any charge laid against us will not stand, because God has justified us. Those who seek to condemn us will answer to Jesus, the intercessor seated at God’s right hand.

If people who rail against our God are giving you a hard time, be patient. The day is coming when the worn out garment of false accusations and condemnation will be exchanged for the spotless white robes of God’s righteousness when God publically vindicates his people.



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