Reading through the Bible together
There are two sections to this chapter: the good news and the bad news. But first the bad news! Before we can ever appreciate Salvation, respond to it, yearn for it, we need to realize how horrible sin is. Throughout the ages humans have tried to cloak their sinfulness under religious rituals. Isaiah 59 pulls aside the mask to reveal the insidious, desperate wickedness of the human heart, its strong grip on us and the devastation it causes to our relationships, especially our relationship with God. It separates us from Him and blocks all communication so that we cannot see or hear each other (vv.1-3). All of us are sinners, guilty of breaking God’s law. However, we are shown two groups of sinners. What makes them different?
The people described in verses 4-8 are those who reject God with defiance. God’s prophet distances himself from them. They are those (vv.4-8) whose wilful sins have hardened into wickedness. They know no peace (v8). On the other hand, like Ezra and Daniel, Isaiah includes himself in the second group. “We look for light…we grope like blind men…our offenses are many.” God’s children are broken-hearted about their sins. There is no self-righteousness or evading the truth. They’ve stopped pretending and cry out, “We acknowledge our iniquities, rebellion and treachery against Yahweh, turning our backs on our God” (vv.9-13). “Blessed are they that mourn” over their sins Jesus said, “for they will be comforted” (Matt 5:4).
Is this fair? The surprising verdict from the “Righteous Judge of the Earth” Himself is, “No!” We have to agree! Nobody lives very long on this planet before realizing that life is not fair. Four times in this chapter (vv.4,9,11,14), and many times throughout the book, Isaiah laments this fact: society is without mišpāt. This Hebrew word for justice represents the way things should be in a society ruled by God and obedient to His Law of Love – the way He created it to be in the beginning. Disobedience results in a spirit of lawlessness, a lack of justice, separation from God (and each other) represented by words like rebellion, iniquity, transgression, sin.
It’s a wretched state of affairs. God Himself is appalled, filled with Divine fury, when He sees the helpless state of man in the grip of this cruel foe called sin; when He sees the agonizing struggle His children have with self. He is determined to help mankind at whatever cost to Himself (vv.15b,16). Our Mighty Warrior personally comes to our rescue. He uses the most drastic and most powerful weapons of all – Love! In the form of the Suffering Servant who wears His own armor (v.17; Eph 6:10-18), He wins an astounding victory: He provides righteousness and salvation for the deliverance of His people, re-establishes justice and mercy as the foundation of His throne, and with vengeance and zeal he punishes and destroys evil (vv.17,18).
Praise the Lord, revere Him all peoples from West to East and forever (v.19)! God’s covenant with man is eternal. His intervention and involvement with the affairs of men are ongoing. In every age God will have Spirit-led people who speak His word (v.21). With God deliverance will never be merely a thing of the past; His greatest intervention is yet to come.
Partners in Ministry Coordinator
Greater Sydney Conference, Australia