Bible Study: Isaiah 59:1-21
In today’s lesson, God explains why He had to intervene to create an intercessor for humanity.
Isaiah Chapter 59
Lessons from the text
A Glimpse Into God’s Mind
This chapter reveals God’s approach to the problem of sin. First, He instructs us as to what is happening. He says that our sins have separated us from Him. He clearly states what those sins are and tells us that being in sin is like being blind; you fumble around unable to find any light. When we are in sin, we are removed from righteousness, justice, and deliverance. Choosing to follow crooked paths instead of a straight path, we have chosen to remove ourselves from the very things that can help us.
Next, God explains to us the consequences of our choices. He says following the crooked path is like digging a hole out of which we cannot climb. Even if we want to leave, we can’t. We are pulled back in or crippled by others in sin. An example would be when a drunk decides to quit drinking and all of his drinking buddies mock him for suddenly growing a conscience. Another example would be the gang member who tries to leave a gang to earn an honest living only to become a robbery victim of the gang. The point is, no matter how hard you try, you cannot remove yourself from sin’s reach to find safety.
Finally, God rises to the challenge to liberation us from this inescapable darkness. Recognizing that we cannot free ourselves from our sins, God says that He will reach down and deliver us. He will become your intercessor to provide safety. Since we cannot make ourselves righteous, He will clothe us with righteousness.
From this we can see that God views sin as an incurable disease; once it enters your life, you can’t escape it no matter how hard you try. That is why He intervenes and offers a way out, a new way to live, protected by His zeal and clothed in His righteousness.
Verse by Verse Commentary
1-2 In the previous chapter the Jews asked, "Wherefore have we fasted, say they, and thou seest not? wherefore have we afflicted our soul, and thou takest no knowledge?" (v. 3) God first answered that they were fasting and praying in the wrong way. Now, He responds that their sins are what is keeping God from answering them. God has not changed. He is still able to part the Red Sea, send down fire and hail, and intervene on behalf of His people at anytime. Nonetheless, He will not fight on behalf of a person who has sin in his life.
4-8 God lists the specific sins of the people. He wants one to understand clearly what wrong one is doing so that one may repent of it. That is, one cannot ask forgiveness for something that one has no knowledge of. Such is why God, through His written and preached word, explicitly tells what is right and wrong and does not spare when it comes to exposing sin. He wants all sin out in the open that all may walk away from it. Additionally, God wants to make it perfectly clear that there are no rewards to sin; the end result is death, destruction, and the lack of peace.
9-10 Once one perverts one's path with crookedness, then one is lost in darkness. Unable to see clearly, one fumbles through life and matters of judgment as if one were blind. All righteousness is removed and justice is no longer a friend but an enemy; an innocent citizen is defended by justice but the guilty are rebuked and condemned.
11-13 The wicked cry out in their suffering for justice against those who have wronged them, but they find no help. On the wrong side of justice, the wicked are too far from God to be delivered from their plight. The righteous can ask God for justice against the oppressor, but the wicked have no right to do so. They forfeited that right when they chose to leave God to pursue crooked ways.
14-17 God looks on the world system and sees that injustice and sin permeates the earth. Those who desire to forsake evil, implying that they have repented of their sins, are not able to do so because those who do not repent take advantage of and mistreat them. Furthermore, there is no one who, seeing the plight of a repentant person, helps such a one escape the grasp of the wicked.
God sees that there is no one willing to stand between, or intercede between, the wicked and the repentant so that the repentant will not be punished by the wicked for deciding to live righteously. Seeing such, God recognized a need for an intercessor. He says that since no man will deliver, then He will be the one to deliver. He did so when He came as Jesus Christ to make an avenue for people to depart from sin and live in righteousness.
When one chooses to forsake the crooked ways, God reaches down, clothes one in righteousness, and fights on one's behalf to deliver one from the wicked. God zealously protects His own. On putting on righteousness, see Job 29:13 and Rev. 19:8.
18 Since one cannot fight against the wicked on one’s own, God will take vengeance on one’s behalf. Whoever is the enemy of the righteous is an enemy of God. If one has been clothed in His righteousness having turning away from sin, then any enemy of one is an enemy of God. Such an enemy has chosen to continue living on the crooked path and has not tried to cease from wickedness. That person will only find God’s wrath waiting for him.
19-20 When the living see the wrath of God on the wicked, they will fear Him. This is a reference to when God supernaturally fights against the wicked, such as when He parted the Red Sea or when He brought down the walls of Jericho (Exo. 14:21; Josh. 6:20). In the future, He will destroy the enemies of Israel when they come against it in the last days. Those who have rejected the existence of God will be struck with fear when they see how He destroys the kings of the east in the battle of Armageddon. That battle brings in the Millennial Reign when Jesus will rule from Jerusalem (Rev. 16:14-16; 19:17-20:4).
21 This promise is specifically for God’s people. To gain this promise, one must enter into a covenant relationship with Him. The Jews automatically have this promise, for the nation has entered into a covenant relationship with God; His word will never depart because they have been given the Torah. Although they are not always obedient to it, they will always have it in their possession. The Gentiles have access to this promise when they enter a covenant relationship through faith in Jesus Christ. Then the Holy Spirit comes to live inside their hearts, thus filling the believer with the word of God.
Thank you for your faithfulness in studying God’s word.
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