Where Have the Righteous Gone

By Ron Graham


“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. Isaiah 57:1. Those last two words in the above verse, “to come”, are only found in the English translation; these words do not appear in the original Hebrew manuscript. By adding “to come” to the end of this verse, some translator was attempting to add his own spin rather than allow the original text to speak for itself. We’ll take a look at this verse in a different light as those two English words are removed.


When read in context, this verse actually says that there are times when God calls the righteous home, and this can occur before their time. Why? Because they become consumed in evil. The next question for many folks will be “What happens to these individuals once God takes them home?” Answer: He shall enter into peace: they shall rest in their beds, each one walking in his uprightness.” Isaiah 57:2. Once we become justified in God’s eyes we cannot become unjustified. It’s literally impossible to be removed from God’s hands after justification. God keeps the saved, saved. It’s His responsibility and He takes His responsibilities seriously.


When the righteous children of God fall into temptation they may continue to fall until they are consumed with a lifestyle of wickedness. When we read that first verse above in context it’s a real eye opener. God decides to take that person, or persons, home before they become fully engulfed in wickedness. The merciful men are taken away. Another way to read this verse is “godly men are removed before their time.” 


There are times that the righteous perish and no one even gives it a second thought. Those of us who knew this righteous person may have thought that they weren’t born again (no righteousness was ever associated with them in our minds) because we only knew them after they were enticed and absorbed in that now wicked lifestyle. When we come into a person’s life we may not be privy to their past, but God is fully aware of every detail concerning His children. If they had been justified in God’s eyes at some point in their past their salvation would still be secure even if they had become overcome and consumed in a wicked lifestyle. If we think we know a person but they’ve never mentioned anything to us about their conversion, and all we witnessed was this person burdened with sin and wickedness, we would only know one side of their life. God knows the truth about everyone; many attempt to fool Him but that is only a work in futility. What’s truly in a man’s heart is known only to God, not to other men. Our every move has been known to God since before the creation and God doesn’t forget. As one of His children moves into the realm of total depravity, His only recourse would be to remove them before they have a chance of further infecting themselves and others around them. We, with our limited knowledge and nonexistent ability to see what God sees, might simply say they were consumed by evil and that evil destroyed them – they have perished.


The verse above, which contains the two extra words “to come”, may be hard to comprehend, thus the addition of those two last words to a well meaning scribe or translator might have seemed necessary. But there is never a need to embellish on God’s word. By including those two extra words it gave the verse a whole new meaning. As it reads, the reader might get the idea that the righteous/merciful are taken away to avoid the evil that’s coming on the earth. “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. Isaiah 57:1. Christ will remove His Ekklesia prior to the Tribulation, but in regards to the referenced verse above, that interpretation is clearly not in view here.


Surely God would not just take a person home before their appointed time, right? Actually, yes He would. When a child of God becomes of no further use for the Kingdom of God, or their testimony becomes of no effect and they lose their witness, according to the verse in question He’ll do just that.    


Can the born again become distracted and led astray by temptation and sin? We not only can, but many have. How is this possible? Mankind will never be without sin this side of Heaven. We are held captive in bodies that are full of sin; bodies that have the sin nature inherited from humanities first parents. When we leave this earth for our eternal destination we will be glorified, and at some point thereafter we will be given glorified bodies that will never be infected with the sin nature again.


Those who claim it is impossible for the born again to continue in sin are sorely lacking in biblical knowledge. Not only are they lacking, but by making such a claim they’ve called God a liar.  “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us…If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” 1 John 1:8 & 10. God never moves away from His children, nor can He learn anything new about them. If the born again become too wrapped up in sin will that be a surprise to God? Not hardly. He’s known His own since before He laid the foundation of the earth. He is fully aware of our every inclination and it is His joy to know us as only He can. “Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. ” Matthew 10:29-30. God even has the hairs on your head numbered. That’s a very intimate knowledge of which only God can possess. Whether we like it or not, God knows us better than we know ourselves.


The fact that God knows us so well should be of great comfort, but to some it goes without thought or care. “…the righteous perisheth, and no man layeth it to heart”.  When read in English, the feeling from this verse doesn’t come through. But when read in the original Hebrew we get a sense of a lack of compassion from that segment of the verse from Isaiah 57. Our English word “heart” is translated from the Hebrew word “leb”, which actually means understanding. What we see in this verse is a total lack of understanding by those who realize God has taken a soul home but have no clue as to the real reason why. The righteous perish and merciful men are taken away and the believers remaining are left to ponder the reason.


We are told men won’t even lay the sudden removal of these righteous people to heart, and God tells us why. God, through His word teaches His children all they need to grow close to Him and to obtain understanding of His word. Why are God’s children, in so many cases, disobedient when it comes to studying their Father’s very words? “Because I knew that thou art obstinate, and thy neck is an iron sinew, and thy brow brass;” Isaiah 48:4. Just as God proclaimed to His stiff-necked people, Israel and Judah, that they were obstinate, what we see today is that His Ekklesia is just as stiff-necked. When it comes to following through with studying His word to gain as much understanding from Him as possible, as a whole His Ekklesia fall short. “I have shewed thee new things from this time, even hidden things, and thou didst not know them.” Isaiah 48:6. God has opened His word to all who have a desire to understand. The key here is desire.


Please don’t misunderstand my intentions; I’m not here to judge or to condemn. My purpose is to explain scripture verses that God has placed on me to explain. I’m not condoning wickedness committed by followers of Jesus Christ. I’m simply explaining that God has a remedy for dealing with His obstinate children. His remedy is, in the case of that verse from Isaiah 57, final.


“Behold, I have refined thee, but not with silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of afflictionHearken unto me, O Jacob and Israel, my called; I am he; I am the first, I also am the last. Mine hand also hath laid the foundation of the earth, and my right hand hath spanned the heavens: when I call unto them, they stand up together.” Isaiah 48:10 & 12-13. Our God has a name and it’s Jesus; He is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the Almighty. Jesus is the God of Israel who He has refined in the furnace of affliction. There is no difference or variation of any kind in the God of Israel and the God of the Ekklesia of Christ. When God speaks to Israel He speaks to His people. When He speaks to His Ekklesia He speaks to His children. He says “Hearken unto Me.” We would all do well to do as He says. When we read, study, and learn His word we move so much closer to Him. Who would you rather be close to, especially in these last days?


Where have all the righteous gone? They’ve gone to rest in their beds, each one. Walking in his uprightness, in the bosom of their Lord Jesus who is to come.


God bless you all,


Ron Graham