KJV Isaiah 51 4 Hearken unto me, my people; and give ear unto me, O my nation: for a law shall proceed from me, and I will make my judgment to rest for a light of the people.

5 My righteousness is near; my salvation is gone forth, and mine arms shall judge the people; the isles shall wait upon me, and on mine arm shall they trust.

Is this speaking of a future new law ? Because it speaks of a law coming in contrast to the Law that was already established. It seems to line up with the law given on MT zion in Isaiah 2:1-4 in contrast to the Law that was given on MT Sinai. Luke also quotes Isaiah 51 in Luke 2:32.

  • I think you are very much on the right track regarding the link with Isaiah 2:1-4 and Mount Zion. I'm not sure it is a new law but rather it will come from the royal city (Jerusalem/Mt Zion) and hence from the king/messiah. There is an NT reference to "the royal law" which I interpret as the sermon on the mount.
    – Ruminator
    Apr 21, 2018 at 23:25
  • The royal law is to love thy neighbor as thyself. That's what James tells us.
    – diego b
    Apr 23, 2018 at 16:28
  • Perhaps, but if you read the rest of the passage that is a stand-in for "the whole law". Since it is related to the king (royal) I take it to be the whole of Jesus' version of the law in the "sermon". Messiah, Isaiah is saying will bring the Torah from Jerusalem/Mt. Zion) which he does most prominently in Matthew 5-7. We also have the sermon on the plain of course, which would also qualify in my understanding as "royal law". Not a big deal if we don't agree on this minor point.
    – Ruminator
    Apr 23, 2018 at 16:45
  • I don't think the "royal law" is a minor point. It's a fundamental doctrine that must be taught right. James tells us exactly what the royal law is. Love fulfills the whole law. But when James is talking about breaking the Law he is talking about those who try to justify themselves by the law. Showing if they break just one law, they are transgressors of the whole law. Same concept Paul taught.
    – diego b
    Apr 23, 2018 at 16:49
  • The law that thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself was given in Leviticus. What makes it a royal law? In fact Jesus said you have heard that it has been said that shalt love thy neighbor and hate their nana me but I say to you love your enemies bless than the curse you do good to them that hate you and pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you that me that you may be the children of your father which is in heaven. He seems to have created his own version which in his teaching seems to make Moses version just that, Moses version.
    – Ruminator
    Apr 23, 2018 at 16:54

1 Answer 1


Yes, I believe this is a reference to the New Testament Law of Liberty referenced in James 2:12.

Look at the immediate context of Isaiah 51:4 (KJV).

1Hearken to me, ye that follow after righteousness, ye that seek the Lord: look unto the rock whence ye are hewn, and to the hole of the pit whence ye are digged. 2 Look unto Abraham your father, and unto Sarah that bare you: for I called him alone, and blessed him, and increased him. 3 For the Lord shall comfort Zion: he will comfort all her waste places; and he will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the Lord; joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving, and the voice of melody. 4 Hearken unto me, my people; and give ear unto me, O my nation: for a law shall proceed from me, and I will make my judgment to rest for a light of the people. 5 My righteousness is near; my salvation is gone forth, and mine arms shall judge the people; the isles shall wait upon me, and on mine arm shall they trust.

The prophet’s instructions to those who follow after righteousness, is to go back to the starting place and that is the Promise to Abraham. God’s Promise to Abraham was an unconditional promise to love and bless Abraham and his seed just because God loves them. There was nothing required for Abraham but to believe God. Salvation/Righteousness starts with the Promise to Abraham.

In verse 4 Isaiah says that a law “shall” (future) proceed from me and (please note) “I will make my judgment to rest” (YLT: “…Peoples I do cause to rest”) to become a light of all the people. This is very important for this concept of rest connects with the Promise to Abraham as the New Testament tells us that God’s salvation is by grace/faith and not by the works of the Law. Here is a clear reference to the New Testament fulfillment of the Sabbath where Hebrews 4 tells us:

10 For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his.

The reference to a new law in Isaiah 51:4 connects to verse 7 of chapter 51:

7 Hearken unto me, ye that know righteousness, the people in whose heart is my law; fear ye not the reproach of men, neither be ye afraid of their revilings. 8 For the moth shall eat them up like a garment, and the worm shall eat them like wool: but my righteousness shall be for ever, and my salvation from generation to generation.

Isaiah references the law that is written upon the heart. In the Book of Romans chapter 2, Paul tells us that the law has been written on every human heart, whether Jew or Gentile.

11 For there is no respect of persons with God. 12 For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law; 13 (For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified. 14 For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: 15 Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;) 16 In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel.

In this passage, Paul states that both the Jew and the Gentile will be judged (guilty) by God’s law. The proof that the Gentiles (who did not receive the law) did in-fact have the law written on their hearts (just like the Jews) was the fact that the Gentiles demonstrated partiality, just like the Jews. Paul says the Gentiles either “accused” or “excused” one another. They “accused” someone if they acted/behaved just as they did and the “accused” someone if they acted differently then they did. In short, they demonstrated partiality. Because of their fallen nature, they judged the law written on their hearts with bias (respect of persons).

So, what is the answer? A circumcision of the heart! A circumcision of the heart will remove the physical law of Moses (bondage) and replace it with a spiritual law of liberty (freedom).

In Deuteronomy 30:6; God promises to unilaterally circumcise the heart of Israel.

6 And the Lord thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live.

Here’s how Dr. Charles P. Bayliss (Dallas Theological Seminary) views this verse.

“The phrase ‘the LORD your God will circumcise your heart’ introduced the New Covenant. The New Covenant was a change which God would enact within man, as opposed to a change which man would accomplish on his own.* Ezekiel 36 and Jeremiah 31 expanded Deuteronomy 30:6 further. Thus Moses' final sermon to the nation prophesied a time when Israel would return to covenant relationship, and God would change their hearts. It was one of the earliest, most specific references to the New Covenant. It is this return that is called ‘repentance.

*The Old Covenant was a test of man's ability to change his own heart. He was exhorted to "circumcise his heart" (Deut. 10:16; Jer. 4:4), but he could not. The Old Testament records that failure. It is only in the New Covenant that God changes man's old heart (cf. Col. 2:11; Rom. 2:29).”

Thus the new birth brought about a change in man where the law, written on the heart of man was removed. It was replaced by a new law, the law of liberty, the royal law.

James 2:8-13

8 If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well: 9 But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors. 10 For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. 11 For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law. 12 So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty. 13 For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment.

So, the literal law requiring good works was replaced by a spiritual law of faith and love. For as James reminds us that all you have to do is transgress the law just one time and you will be guilty of all of it; a lifestyle that no one can live up to. So, James concludes, we should no longer live to or be judged by a law that brings death. However, we should live to and be judged by the Law that gives life/freedom, the law of liberty; for mercy rejoices against judgment (ie what you get when you transgress the Law of Moses).

  • Very good answer. I don't agree with every single point you made, but I like how you connected it to the promise made to Abraham.
    – diego b
    Apr 27, 2018 at 20:36
  • Thanks. Right, np, we're all on our own journeys amen?!
    – alb
    Apr 27, 2018 at 21:28

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