THE BOOK OF ISAIAH
There is no Justice
Isaiah 59 1/26/14 SCC
What stands out in this section is the complete inability to make oneself righteous before God. Because of depravity, if you take the Bible at face value, God must initiate with us sinners in order for any transactions to take place. In this chapter the Lord once again enumerates and catalogues the people’s sins—ever get the idea that God takes sin seriously—and the provision he makes for these sins of his people thru the covenant made with Abraham.
THE LORD HAS THE ABILITY TO DELIVER US 1
59:1: The people were complaining that God was not answering their prayers. Isaiah assured them that His silence was not due to His inability to help them (a shortened hand) or to His disinterest in them (an insensitive ear). He is powerful enough. Simply call out to God and He would come to the rescue. Call on the name of the Lord and you will be saved Rom 10:9. So simple and yet so profound.
DELIVERANCE IS NEEDED DUE TO OUR SPIRITUAL DEPRAVITY 2-15
1. This depravity is harming them 2-8. So this is not vanilla:
59:2: Rather the problem was with them, not Him. It was their iniquities and sins that had separated them from their holy Lord. By the way, sin prevents prayer form being answered. The evidence of sin to support Isaiah’s indictment follows:
59:3: (1) Violence and bloodshed among God’s people were signs of their sinfulness. Lies and deception were others.
59:4: (2) Justice was not coming out of the courts, but legal maneuvering and loopholes had taken the place of straightforward decisions. The people were using and abusing the legal system for their own ends rather than allowing it to sit in judgment on their actions. They were trying to confuse the issues and lie their way out of their responsibilities. Instead of conceiving the truth that would issue in righteousness, they were conceiving mischief that would bear iniquity.
59:5-6: The results of such a society are serpents’ eggs and spider webs. Their actions were like deadly and poisonous snakes since they were actually harming one another with injustice v 5. Just as one can see thru cobwebs, which would be inappropriate material for clothing, so God sees thru the evil deeds of injustice toward one another and judges this v 6.
59:7-8: (3) Instead of running from evil, God’s people were running to it, even hastily shedding innocent blood to secure their ends. In a hurry to do evil they were bringing ruin on each other. Their hands and feet only manifested what was in their hearts. Their imaginations and thought processes were corrupt v 7. Note the repetition of “iniquity” four times in v 3-4, 6-7. As a result there is no peace for anyone. His highways are peace and redemption but the human highways are destruction and confusion his way there is guidance and confidence but in our ways there is discord and strife v 8.
2. This depravity leaves them guilty and hopeless 9-11
59:9: Israel was so corrupt spiritually they are without justice or righteousness in the land. It’s as if they were groping in the darkness trying to find their way. But instead it was all a fog when they thought they were stepping back into the light. They had lost their way and did not know it. No one is more stupid than the one who keeps doing what he has doing only to get more of what he has already gotten!
59:10: All the parallel descriptions in this verse stress the hopelessness and vulnerability of the Israelites due to their natural blindness to God’s ways. They are ‘blind’ to vision and clarity for guiding life, ‘stumbling’ as to constancy and stability of life, ‘dead’ as to vitality and ‘get-up-and-go’.
59:11: As a result the oppressed were on edge ready to pounce on their oppressors like growling bears and moaned at other times like lonely morning doves. They wanted justice but could not find any. Do you understand how utterly hopeless ones feels when he cannot get justice?
3. This depravity needs to be confessed as such 12-15
59:12: Isaiah confessed that the people were noted for their many sins and deliberate rebellion. This is their reputation. But thru Isaiah they had finally acknowledged their condition. Therefore hope that God would step forward and deliver them was possible. It seems their confession is more than just sorry for the consequences at least for the devote in the land.
59:13: The people acknowledged sins against God and against other people. They also admitted sins of omission and sins of commission, sins of action and sins of attitude, sins of the mouth and sins of the hands. They had turned away from God. The very thing Moses warned them about in the book of Deuteronomy—stay true to God!
59:14: Truth had collapsed and righteousness was held hostage. It could not pass into the land. It was barred from entering. They were known for lying, injustice, and dishonesty. They had a horrendous reputation.
59:15a: The bottom line—truth was lacking. It was missing in all of their endeavors. Where truth is lacking, as it was in Isaiah’s society, a person turning aside from evil to do good only makes himself a prey for others take advantage of him. Isaiah was saying that unless God intervenes for His people this type of behavior is all that they can expect.
ONCE SIN IS CONFESSED GOD’S DELIVERANCE IS POSSIBLE 15b-21
59:15b: Though Israel was blind and the Lord saw—or could see this even though they could not. He saw the true state of His people, as He sees everything. He saw that there was no justice in Israel or for Israel. Israel was totally incapable of helping herself.
59:16a: God also saw that there was no human being who could mediate between Himself and His people, who could appeal effectively to Him for them. Aaron and Phinehas had done this for Israel in the past. God was astonished in the sense that he saw there was no one capable of interceding with him to deliver his people so he acted on his own to do so based on his faithfulness to His promises. By the way, this is true of salvation for all time. No one can save him or her self. Only God can forgive sin and change a person’s heart.
59:16b: So in his power God provided deliverance to him and his righteousness upheld him—him is for Israel personified as a man or person. God simply took the initiative to provide salvation for them. He is capable of doing this of course.
59:17: Like a warrior God goes out to fight for His people. No weapon is mentioned, neither sword nor bow. Righteousness is His breastplate and salvation his helmet—same imagery used by Paul in Eph 6. God’s other garments are vengeance and zeal. So God engages himself personally in the deliverance of his people. God supplies what’s needed and zealously executes victory. He doesn’t hang back.
59:18: God would take vengeance on His enemies—on those forces that opposed His people. He would pay them back according to their dealings. While the context refers to deliverance from sin in a general sense, the reference to the coastlands suggests the Lord will also defend and deliver Israel from Gentile opponents (at His second coming). Ultimately, of course, the Lord will subdue every enemy of His.
59:19: God’s deliverance of His people will result in the whole world fearing Him for this display of His glory. People everywhere will acknowledge His glory. His coming deliverance would be swift and forceful like water rushing down a wadi like a pent up flood let loose during a rainstorm.
59:20: When God executes this final judgment at Christ’s coming the Messiah will go to Zion and be a Redeemer of the repentant as he rules. This is the point—turning from spiritual depravity requires repentance and repentance brings forgiveness and deliverance. This is what is needed in their hearts.
59:21: When the Messiah returns in Judgment he will then inaugurate his earthly reign by means of the covenant made with the nation through Abraham—a new covenant of the Spirit. This will include pouring out His Spirit upon His people and instilling His words and teaching within them and their posterity during the entirety of his reign. This will happen at the Lord Jesus’ second advent. He has given the Spirit to Christians but not to all Israel. Christians are ineffective witnesses now, but Israel will be a faithful witness in the Millennium. Israel will witness to the greatness of the Lord and will draw the nations to Him. This is the purpose for which He will redeem them.
(1) Rarely do we want to admit we need spiritual help. The spirit of any age says I can deliver myself. I do not need anyone’s help including God’s. So the gospel is offensive to many.
(2) Only the Bible says you cannot deliver yourself and so the Bible is attacked as irrational, outdated, only a story or irrelevant. Since its message is offensive it is essentially neutered devoid of relevance.
(3) Sin is the problem. Real sin that we really commit that is offensive to a real God. The Bible from cover to cover reveals the damning influence of sin and the only remedy—deliverance by payment. It requires that we admit and confess our sin and receive God’s gift of eternal life.