“This is what the LORD says: “Maintain justice and do what is right, for my salvation is close at hand and my righteousness will soon be revealed.” (Isaiah 56:1 )
Scholars estimate that Isaiah wrote and prophesied around 740 B.C. Isaiah was writing warnings to Judah and other nations who did not recognize and honor God. Isaiah spells out what should be done by God’s believing people, and what God’s salvation and righteousness is like and how that will be made manifest on the earth. Isaiah was a very colorful writer. But I have to wonder, what does “soon” mean?
In looking to commentators I found three varying definitions of “soon.” John Wesley indicates that soon will come about with “eminent salvation by the Messiah.” In Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Commentary’s the implication is that soon will be “near to come” as pointed to by John the Baptist and Jesus; perhaps their coming was the fulfillment. This commentary also references the Second Coming as being the “soon,” The Matthew Henry commentary does not give a measurable time line, but rather suggests how to pass the time, to “wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.”
It is a quite popular question to ask, “How soon Lord?” It is easier to “maintain justice and do what is right” when you know how long you have to do that. There are those who have gone before us who waited for their whole lives and, if biographies are to be trusted, did not falter or weaken in doing what was just and right. They were waiting, as we are, for God to come and take control and make right our world. If this is the case, “soon” may be beyond our lifetimes also.
Perhaps it was a Wesley indicated, that the coming of Christ was God’s salvation and righteousness revealed. So the question becomes, what did we expect to be revealed? If the “soon” came and went, did we miss it? That is, has God’s salvation and righteousness already been delivered to the world? And if it is in our world now, where might we find it? I suspect the answer to that question is within us, literally and figuratively. We are to be God’s salvation and righteousness in the world by holding true to God’s commandments of love, peace, and all that is shalom.
If then the “soon” of salvation and righteousness depends on us, how soon will we as a people, as a nation, as a global community reveal what God intends? How soon?
May you gentle reader find within you the hope of righteousness and the faith to carry forth God’s plan of salvation. Selah!