Problem

Poor and Contrite vs. Rejoice Evermore

Isaiah 66:2 - For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the LORD: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word.
1 Thessalonians 5:16 - Rejoice evermore.

Isaiah 66:2 says that the Lord will look to the man "that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word", but Paul tells us in 1 Thess 5:16 to "Rejoice evermore". Is this a contradiction?


Solution

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No contradiction exists here. Note the wording and context of both passages very carefully.

In Isa 66:2, God is referring to the person he will look to, not to the person on whom he has already looked. In the context of Isaiah 66, the word of God has gone out detailing the judgment that the Lord is about to bring on Israel. All kinds of people are going to hear these words, but God is only interested in one reaction: "but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word." This is going to be the man that hears about the coming judgment and trembles. This will be the man that shows a broken heart and repentance when he has been presented with his transgression. It is the man that is not looking to his own works, but stands before the Lord poor and empty and in need of mercy. The Lord will look on that man and give him that mercy. Notice carefully the reward that is promised to those that properly respond to the word of God in verse 5:

"Hear the word of the LORD, ye that tremble at his word; Your brethren that hated you, that cast you out for my name's sake, said, Let the LORD be glorified: but he shall appear to your joy, and they shall be ashamed." - Isa 66:5

There is the rejoicing! Now that the Lord has looked upon them they have something to rejoice about. This coincides perfectly with 1 Thess 5:16. Notice first of all that Paul is writing to the "church of the Thessolonians which is in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Thess 1:1). These are Christians on whom the Lord has already looked. Just like the men of Isaiah 66, these people heard the word of God (Rom 10:17) and responded correctly with a poor and contrite spirit. These are people who have their name written in the Book of Life and have something to "rejoice evermore" about!

There is no contradiction here. If you are still not convinced try and take 1 Thess 5:16 and apply it to a person that is not saved. What would they have to rejoice about in light of Rev. 20:15? if their name is not written the Book of Life they are headed for an eternity in the lake of fire. Now that is something to tremble over!

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