If favor is shown to the wicked, he does not learn righteousness;
In the land of uprightness, he deals corruptly and
does not see the majesty of the LORD. – Isaiah 26:10 (ESV)
In this verse, Isaiah speaks to the condition of all the unsaved of all ages; they are blind and deaf to the work of God in their lives. This is true of all those whose eyes have not been opened to see the glory and the beauty and the holiness of God (2 Cor. 4:4) and so these all remain under the Lord’s judgment and condemnation. Trapped in their spiritual blindness, these “do not learn righteousness,” but instead they continue to “deal corruptly.” They cannot “see the majesty of the LORD,“ even though God has made it evident to them (Romans 1:19).
“All of them have turned aside; together they have become worthless. No one does good, not even one (Romans 3:12).”
So, all the unsaved are blind and deaf to God’s involvement in their lives. They do not see Him because they CANNOT see Him. And so a consequence of this is that “If favor is shown to the wicked, he does not learn righteousness,” but still “deals corruptly.”
For example, Pharaoh was shown favor nine times as he rejected one opportunity for true repentance after another. Nine plagues came upon him, and nine times the LORD did not destroy him for his arrogance and his blasphemy, but instead showed him favor by removing the plague. But Pharaoh would not bow the knee to YHWH, so YHWH destroyed all the first-born of Egypt.
Herod was shown favor in that he actually got to meet the Son of God in person. Despite this act of grace, Herod continued in his corrupt ways and he was eventually eaten by worms (Acts 12:23).
But ordinary men and women do this every day as well. I had a conversation with a co-worker about 15 years ago. He told me about the time he was at a home-owners’ association meeting and began to feel hot and light-headed. He had gotten up just to stretch his legs and the next thing he remembered was opening his eyes in the hospital with emergency room doctors staring at him with hopeful eyes. His heart had stopped, and they put the paddles to his chest twice before his heart started beating again. And the man that was talking to me was a walking heart attack. He smoked and lived on peanuts and Coca-Cola and was probably 50 Lbs overweight. “Don,” I said, “do you know the Lord?” I shared the gospel with him and urged him to consider his eternity, but he was not interested. Two years later he was dead. Favor had been shown to him by giving him several years of life after his heart attack, but he did not learn righteousness.
There was another co-worker that I knew who worked in the plant. He was proud and angry and immoral and lived for things that were exciting. Then he was in a horrible motorcycle wreck where 80% of his body was burned. He spent almost a year in the burn unit, and the first four months he hovered between life and death. But against all odds he survived and is alive today. He has been shown almost miraculous favor, and yet he has not learned righteousness. He continues to live without regard to the Lord.
I have shared Christ with another co-worker who is from an atheistic culture. He has listened to me politely, but he has not indicated a serious interest. A couple of weeks ago, he was cut off by a reckless driver on the interstate. His car ended up spinning at 65MPH and crashing into the concrete median. He was knocked unconscious and he cut his head, but otherwise he was unhurt. What I heard as God showing him great favor by sparing his life he saw as just a lucky turn of events. For now, he has not learned righteousness, but perhaps the Lord will yet open his heart.
“If favor is shown to the wicked, he (still) does not learn righteousness.” Since this is a true statement, what do we do? We preach Christ and Him crucified. Knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade men to come to faith. The gospel is the power of God unto salvation, and so we proclaim Christ and trust that the Lord will save some.
SDG rmb 11/1/2019