Isaiah 59


‘Surely the arm of the LORD is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear. For your hands are stained with blood, your fingers with guilt. Your lips have spoken falsely, and your tongue mutters wicked things. No one calls for justice; no one pleads a case with integrity. They rely on empty arguments, they utter lies; they conceive trouble and give birth to evil. They hatch the eggs of vipers and spin a spider’s web. Whoever eats their eggs will die, and when one is broken, an adder is hatched. Their cobwebs are useless for clothing; they cannot cover themselves with what they make. Their deeds are evil deeds, and acts of violence are in their hands. Their feet rush into sin; they are swift to shed innocent blood. They pursue evil schemes; acts of violence mark their ways. The way of peace they do not know; there is no justice in their paths. They have turned them into crooked roads; no one who walks along them will know peace.’ Isaiah 59:1-8

Sin, Confession And Redemption

This chapter tells us that the Redeemer is sent.

When in sin, we cease our communication with and dependence on God. Israel’s sins had separated her from God. The face of God is toward us to help but when we turn our back on Him, we walk in the darkness of our own shadow of sin.

Their sin involved the use of their hands, fingers, lips and tongue, the barriers which they had erected. The judicial system was corrupted and they trusted in the chaos of society, and as a result, no justice could come to the righteous.

What they hatch, viper eggs is deadly and what they do is futile. In other words, what they produced was spiritually dead. Like spider webs, they did their works in order to entrap others, Mark 7:14-23, and they were swift to shed innocent blood, Hebrews 11:32-38.

Society had digressed to the point that innocent people were being killed because of the crime of others.

McGuiggan, in his commentary, says the following.

‘They think and act swiftly to do evil. The innocent seems to be their special target. They have crooked minds, practice crooked actions on crooked roads of their own crooked making and anyone foolish enough to walk with them on that crooked path finds only restlessness and destruction, Isaiah 59:7-8. The apostle Paul’s description of the same people at that same period agrees perfectly with this, Romans 2:17-29 / Romans 3:1:19, the topic sentence of that entire portion of Romans is the declaration that ‘The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you ‘the Jews’, Romans 2:24.’

‘So justice is far from us, and righteousness does not reach us. We look for light, but all is darkness; for brightness, but we walk in deep shadows. Like the blind we grope along the wall, feeling our way like people without eyes. At midday we stumble as if it were twilight; among the strong, we are like the dead. We all growl like bears; we moan mournfully like doves. We look for justice, but find none; for deliverance, but it is far away. For our offenses are many in your sight, and our sins testify against us. Our offenses are ever with us, and we acknowledge our iniquities: rebellion and treachery against the LORD, turning our backs on our God, inciting revolt and oppression, uttering lies our hearts have conceived. So justice is driven back, and righteousness stands at a distance; truth has stumbled in the streets, honesty cannot enter.’ Isaiah 59:9-14

Here we read that no one, among men, could deliver Israel from her sins, Hosea 4:6.

The righteous had no hope that their injustices would be righted. They looked for a gleam of light, but there was no hope in sight. They had become so perverse that the righteous groped for direction, and could find none.

They growled like bears and moaned mournfully like doves, that is, their complaints to God didn’t bring them relief from social injustice because they wouldn’t enact God’s law in their lives. They scoffed at the law and prophets of the law as Isaiah.

Their offences are many in God’s sight, and their sins testify against us, that is, their behaviour was the evidence that they had forsaken God, Ezekiel 8:6-15 / Daniel 9:5-15. When a society gives up truth and equity, it is destined for self-destruction.

‘Truth is nowhere to be found, and whoever shuns evil becomes a prey. The LORD looked and was displeased that there was no justice. He saw that there was no one, he was appalled that there was no one to intervene; so his own arm achieved salvation for him, and his own righteousness sustained him. He put on righteousness as his breastplate, and the helmet of salvation on his head; he put on the garments of vengeance and wrapped himself in zeal as in a cloak. According to what they have done, so will he repay wrath to his enemies and retribution to his foes; he will repay the islands their due. From the west, people will fear the name of the LORD, and from the rising of the sun, they will revere his glory. For he will come like a pent-up flood that the breath of the LORD drives along.’ Isaiah 59:15-19

Because there was no truth, evil prevailed but when God sees evil, He takes action. When God saw the moral mess of their wicked society, He was shocked that no one stood up for the righteous against the oppression of the day. He could find no one who was concerned by the state of moral degradation and injustice into which they had fallen.

However, God intervened on behalf of the righteous remnant in order to save them from total destruction. Notice ‘He put on righteousness as a breastplate’, righteousness protects the heart.

The helmet of salvation is on His head, in other words, when we think right, we do what is right. Isaiah looks into the future, to the time when the Saviour would come into the world for the spiritual salvation of God’s people, Ephesians 6:14-17 / 1 Thessalonians 5:8.

The garments are a reference to clothing ourselves in the Word of God. The cloak represents the zeal to accomplish the will of God that would characterize the ministry of the Servant who was to come.

Jamieson, in his commentary, says the following.

‘The Christian’s armour is like that of God’s, except that, ‘we do not possess any ‘garments of vengeance or cloak of zeal’. Vengeance belongs to God, Romans 12:19.’

Repentance will only come if people truly fear God. When the enemy attacks the righteous, the Holy Spirit will lift up a pent-up flood of defence for the righteous and against the wicked.

‘The Redeemer will come to Zion, to those in Jacob who repent of their sins,” declares the LORD. “As for me, this is my covenant with them,” says the LORD. “My Spirit, who is on you, will not depart from you, and my words that I have put in your mouth will always be on your lips, on the lips of your children and on the lips of their descendants—from this time on and forever,” says the LORD.’ Isaiah 59:20-21

The only hope for sinful man was the coming of the Redeemer, that is the Lord Jesus Christ and the covenant is a reference to the covenant of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, the New Covenant, Jeremiah 31:31-33. Isaiah ends with hope, the hope that is given is in the spiritual salvation of the repentant that would carry on throughout eternity.

Coffman, in his commentary, says the following.

‘Note the passages here which apply to Jesus Christ.’

1. He is the one who is the covenant, Isaiah 35 prophesies the Christ who is the New Covenant, but the word ‘covenant’ is not used.

2. The Spirit of God is upon Him, Matthew 3:16ff.

3. God put His words in Jesus’ mouth, John 12:49-50.

4. Heaven and earth shall pass away but Jesus’ words shall not pass away, 1 Peter 1:24-25. These very things have already been stated many times in Isaiah, as in Isaiah 55:3 / Isaiah 42:6 / Isaiah 49:8 / Isaiah 54:10 / Isaiah 42:1 / Isaiah 61:1.

‘The tremendous meaning here is that ‘there will always be a seed, a remnant, holding faithfully to God’s Word, passing it on from one generation to the next. This promise has been fulfilled in the Christ who received his words from the Father, in the Gospel, and the true church of Christ.’

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