“The righteous perisheth, and no man layeth it to heart…” (Isaiah 57:1)
A righteous man is a man who has been placed in the Righteousness of God (or declared righteous in God’s sight). This means a man who has been declared Righteous, or a man who has been “Justified” in the Atonement of Christ.
Paul says, (Romans 10:4), “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness…” And he explains (Romans 3:24-25) how Christ justified sinners in His work as Substitute, Sacrifice, and Savior, on the Cross:
“Being justified (or declared righteous) freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 3:24)
First: the Basis, or foundation, is God’s Grace (His unmerited favor). (See Ephesians 2:8-9.)
Second: the How this grace is experienced by the sinner is first through the Redemption (the ransom price paid and the sinner slave set free) from his debt of sin in Adam. (See Ephesians 1:7; 1 Peter 1:18-20; 2:4.)
Third: the Ransom Price was Jesus Christ Himself as He:
“For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” (2 Corinthians 5:21)
He was that Perfect Sacrifice offered to God as our Substitute (Isaiah 53:10-11).
See Romans 3:25, “Whom (Jesus Christ, God in the Flesh) God hath set forth to be a propitiation (that which appeases, or satisfies; Christ Himself, in His own Body, became the Mercy Seat, the Burnt Offering, offered to God on our behalf in His own Body; and He also then is the One who propitiated (satisfied) God in His own Body on the tree; Hebrews 10:1-22; 1 Peter 2:24) through (the) faith (who is Christ Himself; He is The Faith) in his blood (or through His Atonement on the Cross; this is how sinners are judicially justified, or declared righteous), to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past (all before the Cross), through the forbearance of God;” (Read Romans 3:26-31.)
“Therefore being justified (or declared righteous) by (or through) faith (or through Christ; not the sinner’s faith, but “through” Christ alone), we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 5:1)
Isaiah in Chapter 57, verses 1-2, was saying to Israel that the righteous man (the man who followed God’s Word; who was holy; who patterned his words and deeds according to God) perisheth (or passed from this life), and “no man layeth it to heart.” The Nation of Israel as a whole was headed for the Judgment of God for their national rebellion to God’s Law (whether it be by not keeping the Sabbath or by compromising God’s Word with the pagan philosophy of idolatry). Israel was headed for a complete take over by the Babylonians and toward suffering a 70-year captivity. Their economy, the City of Jerusalem, and their farms and vineyards were to be destroyed by King Nebuchadnezzar in 587 B.C.
But no one could perceive why the righteous men were being taken in physical death. Note Isaiah added in 57:1b, “and merciful men are taken away, none considering that the righteous (the same as the faithful) is taken away from the evil to come.”
God was saying, through Isaiah the prophet, that Judgment is coming for your sins; for ye have not repented and will not repent. But you don’t perceive, or see, why the righteous are perishing.
The first thoughts of men are as Job’s three so-called friends; they said Job’s problems were because of his sins. They could not see behind the scenes, that God was triumphing over the devil by manifesting Job was a righteous and faithful man, a man who was a servant of God. Job was a man who followed God through God allowing the devil to bring upon Job sorrows in his life above measure; which without God, Job could not have endured. But he did endure and was rewarded greatly.
When you attend a funeral or hear of the death of a man that had the testimony of Noah:
“But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD. (9b) …Noah was a just (or a righteous) man and perfect (mature) in his generations, and Noah walked with God.” (Genesis 6:8-9)
You need to consider the reason.
Many, if not most, think physical death is bad for the Child of God; but not so (see Isaiah 57:2):
“He (the righteous man who died) shall enter into peace: they shall rest in their beds, each one walking in his uprightness.”
Then in the rest of the Chapter of Isaiah 57, Isaiah gives the Judgment of the unrighteousness and the sinners.
Death is a door to eternity with Christ for the Child of God.
“Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord:” (2 Corinthians 5:6)
“We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.” (2 Corinthians 5:8)
“For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: (24) Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you.” (Philippians 1:23-24)
God is merciful in physical death for His saints, for they will be in Peace (or in Him, Christ, Who is Perfect Peace) and in complete Rest from the old man (the flesh), sins, and daily failures. He will be in the Presence of Christ for ever and ever; free from the present evil world, which is in darkness of spiritual death, dead in sins and trespasses (Ephesians 2:1-3; Ecclesiastes 7:1b; Psalms 116:15).
Be careful how you judge the death of a righteous man. In Isaiah’s day (Isaiah 57:1-2), death was a way of escape afforded by God for the righteous man to miss the terrible destruction that was soon to come upon Jerusalem.
Even today, God has good for the righteous man in life and in death.
Reader, who are you? Wherein do you stand concerning your spiritual position? Does death bring fear to your heart? Be sure you will die (Hebrews 9:27); for all men are appointed to die. But when you die, will you go to Peace and Rest? Or where?
If you are not “in Christ,” then you stand in unrighteousness and spiritual death; for you are in an eternal separation from God forever.
Examine yourself and see if ye be in the faith or a reprobate:
“Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?” (2 Corinthians 13:5)