Isaiah 59 is a beautiful section of scripture that shows us that the heart of God is justice and love and the blessings through the grace of Jesus that He wants to shower on us.
For the sake of this discussion, I’m dividing up these two chapters into these sections:
- 59:1-2 – The problem
- 59:3-8 – The sins
- 59:10-15 – The consequences
- 59:16-20 – The response
The passage opens in 59:1-2 with a clear statement of the issue. God doesn’t mince words or make us wonder what the issue is; He spells it out clearly and tells us exactly where the struggle is from: sin. He says our sins is what have separated us from God and kept Him from responding to us. God is just and He must deal with our sin. There is no way around it. He can’t ignore it or minimize it or excuse it. He must deal with it.
Because this is the root of the trouble, we must be willing to deal with sin. We have to be able to admit that we’re in trouble (separated from God) and that we are unable to come back into His presence on our own (Romans 3:23). Later on in this passage, we will see what it takes to deal with sin, or more accurately, who will take it.
The next few verses (59:3-8) go more in detail about what sins are being committed. Often in our lives a simple, “I’m a sinner” admission won’t help us understand the depth and the seriousness of our actions. We need to be able to talk about what the trouble is, specifically. The more specific, the more aware we are of the separation and the more thoroughly the grace of God can come in and clean out are hearts and mind.
This passage is showing here the depth of the sin that Isaiah was seeing. God is about to promise some amazing things and we need to know that these promises weren’t born out of amazing obedience or the goodness of His followers. These promises came from the darkest of moments when sin was more prominent than not.
God doesn’t sugar coat and try to make us feel better about making wrong choices. He knows that His way is life and all others ways are death. He makes that clear in the next section (59:10-15). Every choice has consequences and we need to understand that our sin brings harm to others around us and our obedience blesses them (Job 35:8).
Reminding us of the depth of the consequences is also setting the stage for us to see the beauty of the height that He will lift us. Sin is a compounding mess of struggles and troubles, sometimes for us, sometimes for the people we’re hurting. Either way, when God lifts us up, He lifts completely out of it and grants us blessing outside of anything we could earn.
The next section shows us what happens when it’s time for God to deal with the trouble (59:16-20). He’s seen the innocent suffering from the disobedient, He’s heard the overly pious giving lip service, and the list of sins is only growing. How He responds show us deep truths about God’s nature.
In verse 16, God saw that there was no one to intercede for the sinning and the suffering. Did He yell at them and tell them to get their act together? Did He say, “Too bad for you! Should have listened to me!” No! He saw them lacking and He stepped in Himself to save them. In verse 17, we see God as a passionate protector and defender. He didn’t just do this out of obligation and because He didn’t have anything more interesting on His schedule. He puts on righteousness and salvation as armor and zeal and vengeance are wrapped around Him like a cloak. In verse 18, those who sinned and caused suffering will be repaid, God will deal with those who have fought against His name.
Why is He doing this? Because we must be taught a lesson? No, He isn’t that kind of petty god. He is doing this for one reason: so that the world will see His glory (v. 19).
As if justice and salvation aren’t enough, God takes it even one step further: He promises a future of salvation and a covenant of remembrance. Right here, in the midst of the sin and the troubles and the problem, what God gives as a gift is that He will send a Redeemer (Jesus!) and His words and His spirit will not leave the people.
What a great and loving God to not just throw out all the troublesome people and just leave this place to the bears, kangaroos, and elephants. He renews His promise that the children of Israel will be His people for always, and does it right when He has no reason to do so.
This is our message of hope: God saved us by the blood of Jesus Christ because of who He is and for that reason alone. We have done nothing to earn our salvation, and we never will be able to. God offers salvation to us freely and completely and the word of this news will never leave us forevermore. To Him and Him alone be all the glory and praise.