by Frans Bakker
We all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away. —Isaiah 64:6b
The falling leaves proclaim to us our mortality. Before long our lives will fade and we will leave this life. Why is it that we fade as a leaf? Isaiah gives the answer and shows the cause. He says that it is because of “our iniquities.” We are compared to the leaves and our iniquities are as the wind. Our iniquities drive us into the grave. We all suffer from the terminal disease of the guilt of committing iniquity, of sinning. Those who are guilty of committing iniquities must die. They have brought this punishment on themselves, for the wages of sin is death.
What then is “our iniquity?” Is it murder, theft, or adultery? If that were the only iniquity, the “rich young rulers” of this world would not have to die. Iniquity is everything that is not done for the honor and glory of God. That means we have never done anything right and even our so-called “righteousnesses are like filthy rags.” There is really only one iniquity and that is this: “The God in whose hand thy breath is...hast thou not glorified” (Dan. 5:23). Even our most admirable deeds miss the mark.
That is why the leaf has to fade away. By its iniquity it has severed itself from the Source of Life. We were created to live for God, to live with God, and to live in Him. But the leaf of man’s life has to let go because it has cut itself off from God. It was not the Creator, but man, who brought death into the world.
Our death has to become our guilt. We are to be blamed; the guilt is all ours. We have to become who we really are: a people laden with iniquity. Those who commit iniquity must die. They are compelled to sign their own death sentence. Their mortality becomes their guilt. Such people learn what it means to die before they actually die. They die before God’s law; they die before God’s seat of justice; they die before God. Those who learn to die before they actually die will not die when they die. Our spiritual death determines our state of eternity after our physical death. For guilty people, God has prepared an eternal wonder of grace. The wonder of grace lies in Him who was reckoned to be one with criminals. He died for those who committed iniquities, for transgressors. He had to be separated from God, the source of all life, and enter death so that there would be life for those who are dying.
Let us, therefore, understand the language of the fading leaf. Let us find no rest anywhere until we have found rest in the dying Christ. He still lets Himself be found by those who are guilty of every iniquity.
From The Everlasting Word by Frans Bakker, compiled and translated by Gerald R. Procee. Reformation Heritage Books and Free Reformed Publications, 2007. Used by permission. For further information, click here.