Fearing God the World Around - Isaiah 59:19

The Heart of God For Us

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 Problem

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 Sins

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.

The Consequences

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 Response

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.

Mind. Blown.

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.

The Covering of God’s Mercy

13 No one who conceals transgressions will prosper, but one who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy. [1]

Mercy in the Garden of Eden

God’s mercy can be defined as: the desire of God to see His children have goodness and blessing in their lives instead of what they actually deserve. We know that God’s mercy is there and we need it, but we may not think of it as the protection that it is.

So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made loincloths for themselves. 8 They heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. 9 But the Lord God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?” 10 He said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.” 11 He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” 12 The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit from the tree, and I ate.”… 20 The man named his wife Eve, because she was the mother of all living. 21 And the Lord God made garments of skins for the man and for his wife, and clothed them. [2]

In Genesis, after Adam and Eve have eaten the forbidden fruit, they feel naked and ashamed to see God. As far as the scriptures record nothing changed other than their perception. It was the act of disobedience that enlightened their eyes to see their own vulnerability as a part of their separation from God.

We are also vulnerable because of our separation from God. Ever since the fall, we have been open to the attacks of the devil against us. Cain was only one generation after the most perfect garden on the earth was created. He was the son of a man and woman who had personally walked and talked with the Most High God. Yet, he gave in to temptation and killed his brother. No one is exempt then or now from the dangers of sin.

Mercy and Goodness

The response of God to the vulnerability of Adam and Eve can give us hope for our own needs of mercy. In God’s mercy, He provided Adam and Eve with clothing. It may seem like a small thing, but what it shows us about our God is huge.

First thing it tells us is that God cares about meeting our needs, even when we’re working through problems. Adam and Eve had never had a need for clothing. The most likely wouldn’t have known how to make clothes or even what would happen to their poor bodies if they didn’t get them. But God, knowing the why and the what of their clothing needs, provided good, durable clothes for them. Animal skins make clothes that have protection and warmth. God didn’t give them wimpy clothes just to tide them over until they could figure it out for themselves. He gave them a good gift, because of His mercy.

The second thing we can learn from this is that the sin we’re doing doesn’t stop Him from providing for us. The only reason Adam and Even needed clothing was because they had sinned; they didn’t deserve to be provided for. But God’s mercy is because of who He is, not because of who we are. He gave them protection and comfort because He loved them.

Our God is merciful to sinners, which covers all of us. His mercy is beyond what we can comprehend or think, and He showers it on us because He knows how to give good gifts. He delights in it, in fact.[3] Knowing this about our God makes it easier to trust His gifts and His kindness. We often feel ashamed and want to hide in a bush like Adam and Eve did, our poor vulnerability and shame underneath poorly held together leaves. But God comes in and finds us and loves us and gives us the gifts we need, even while dealing with the consequences of our sins.

Hiding in Shame

When Adam and Eve realized they were naked, the immediately tried to cover themselves up by making leaf clothing. They didn’t want God to see them as they suddenly saw themselves.

We do the same thing in our hearts when we realize a sin. We feel like there’s been a huge change and we say, “How can we let God see us this way?” Of course, God has seen us as we are all along. Our sudden awareness of our sin doesn’t affect His.

Even though we often know this, we still try to cover up the things we’re ashamed of before we go to Him. We hide in uncomfortable shrubbery to try to avoid facing Him in our newly aware and vulnerable state. Moved by mercy once again, He doesn’t leave us in our hidey hole or demand that we clean ourselves up and present ourselves to Him. Instead, He comes and finds us in our shame and nakedness and talks to us about what we’ve done. He is so good and kind and He loves us so much. The more we can trust in His mercy, the sooner we’ll run to His arms instead of hiding from His voice.

What Mercy Looks Like

but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.[4]

Our version of what we need is very different from God’s version. God knew that the leafy loincloths that Adam and Eve had made for themselves were not what would be the best option. Instead, he offered them ones made of skin. Perhaps that made sense to them, perhaps it didn’t. Either way, we can find ourselves in the same place as they did, receiving something from the Lord that doesn’t look like what we thought it would be. We have to be listening to Him and learning from Him so that when he hands us a gift, we can accept it without hesitating.

Paul talks about receiving a different answer than he wanted in 2 Corinthians. He prayed that the thorn in the flesh would be taken away, but God told him no. God could show more power in Paul’s weakness than in his healing. Paul’s response shows someone who trust in the mercy and goodness of God. He doesn’t moan and become a martyr; he accepts the gift even to the point of boasting in his weakness to more thoroughly show the power of God.

Maybe it’s the Lord saying no to you or maybe the Lord has just given you a different answer than what you expected, but God is giving you good gifts. He is offering you the protection that comes from trusting in His mercy and goodness.



[1] The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. (1989). (Pr 28:13). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[2] The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. (1989). (Ge 3:8-12,20). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[3] The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. (1989). (Micah 7:18). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[4] The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. (1989). (2 Co 12:9). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.