Isaiah 59 - Outline of Isaiah (Book Notes menu page)
III. Salvation, ch. 40-66
C. Restoration secured through Israel's glorious King (The King of Peace), ch. 58-66
  1. Israel's false worship contrasted with true worship, 58:1-14
  2. Israel's confession of sin, and the Redeemer's remedy, 59:1-21
    1. Description of Israel's sins, 59:1-8
    2. Confession of Israel's Sins, 59:9-15
    3. Blotting out of Israel's sins, 59:16-21
      [divisions "a., b., c." are from Dr. Charles Ryrie, Ryrie S.B.]
The day foretold, in the closing verses of chapter 58 (Isa 58:12-14), when Israel is restored by their King,
and when He will cause their hearts to delight in Him, is still future. In that chapter, Israel was asking why the LORD did not answer their prayers for deliverance (58:3). Here, in chapter 59, the LORD again identifies the problem. There is no weakness in Him. He has already bared His arm to bring salvation (52:10; 53:1).
1. Behold, the LORD'S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save;
neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear:
2 But your iniquities have separated between you and your God,
and your sins have hid [his] face from you, that he will not hear.
3 For your hands are defiled with blood, and your fingers with iniquity;
your lips have spoken lies, your tongue hath muttered perverseness.
4 None calleth for justice, nor [any] pleadeth for truth:
they trust in vanity, and speak lies;
"No one sues righteously and no one pleads honestly.
They trust in confusion and speak lies..." [v.4a, in NASB]
they conceive mischief, and bring forth iniquity.
5 They hatch cockatrice'
{a poisonous serpent's} eggs,
and weave the spider's web:
{cp. Job 8:13,14}
he that eateth of their eggs dieth,
and that which is crushed breaketh out into a viper.
6 Their webs shall not become garments,
neither shall they cover themselves with their works:
their works [are] works of iniquity,
and the act of violence [is] in their hands.
7 Their feet run to evil, and they make haste to shed innocent blood:
their thoughts [are] thoughts of iniquity;
wasting and destruction [are] in their paths.
8 The way of peace they know not;
and [there is] no judgment
{HB=mishpat, justice} in their goings:
they have made them crooked paths:
whosoever goeth therein shall not know peace.
{cp. Isa 57:21}
your iniquities {HB='avon, perversity, depravity}... your sins {HB=chatta'ah, guilt of sin}...-
In v.1-8, the LORD identifies Israel's problem, as their sinful condition.
In regard to the desperately sinful condition of all mankind, Paul quotes v.7,8 in Rom 3:15-17.
We are all infected by the seed of the serpent (Satan). Yet, the passage is written to Israel. This section of Isaiah deals with the coming of Israel's King. At His first coming, Jesus, and also John the Baptist, used similar language concerning Israel's leaders (cp. Mat 3:7; 12:34).
neither shall they cover themselves with their works...-
The sinfulness of the human heart cannot be covered or concealed under our good works (no matter how many or how great). The good, that we think we do, is like spider's webs: unsubstantial and easily swept away... yet, characterized by deception, decay, and death.
     This was Paul's point, when he quoted the verses above (see his conclusion: Rom 3:19,20). cp. Isa 30:1; 57:12; 64:6
9. Therefore is judgment {HB=mishpat, justice} far from us,
neither doth justice
{HB=tsedaqah, righteousness} overtake us:
we wait for light, but behold obscurity;
for brightness, [but] we walk in darkness.
10 We grope for the wall like the blind,
and we grope as if [we had] no eyes:
we stumble at noonday as in the night;
[we are] in desolate places as dead [men].
{cp. Deu 28:29; cf. Isa 58:8}
11 We roar all like bears,
{in angry impatience}
and mourn sore like doves:
{in hopeless despondency}
we look for judgment
{HB=mishpat, justice}, but [there is] none;
for salvation, [but] it is far off from us.
{cf. Isa 58:9}
12 For our transgressions are multiplied before thee,
and our sins testify against us:
for our transgressions [are] with us;
and [as for] our iniquities, we know them;
13 In transgressing and lying against the LORD,
and departing away from our God,
speaking oppression and revolt,
conceiving and uttering from the heart words of falsehood.
14 And judgment
{ie., justice} is turned away backward,
and justice
{ie., righteousness} standeth afar off:
for truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter.
Therefore is judgment {justice} far from us...-
In v.9-14, the Remnant of Israel speaks (we... us... our).
  • They acknowledge their sin, as the cause of their troubles (v.9-11).
  • They confess their sin before God (v.12-14).
Notice that they do not mention the sin of idolatry, which was Israel's great sin in Isaiah's day. This prayer of confession will be voiced by the believing Remnant of Israel in the future, during the Tribulation period prior to the establishment of Christ's Millennial Kingdom on earth.
     Following the Babylonian captivity, Israel turned from their false gods. Yet, to the present time, they remain separated and 'departing away' from the true God, because of sin and spiritual blindness.
for our transgressions are with us; and...our iniquities, we know {ie., acknowledge} them...- cp. Psa 51:3,4
15 Yea, truth faileth {HB='adar, is lacking};
and he [that] departeth from evil maketh himself a prey
{ie., a victim of persecution}:
and the LORD saw [it],
and it displeased him that [there was] no judgment
{ie., justice}.
16. And he saw that [there was] no man,
and wondered that [there was] no intercessor:
therefore his arm brought salvation unto him;
and his righteousness, it sustained him.
17 For he put on righteousness as a breastplate,
and an helmet of salvation upon his head;
and he put on the garments of vengeance [for] clothing,
and was clad with zeal as a cloke.
...the LORD saw it...- In anticipation of the Remnant's prayer of repentance,
the LORD speaks concerning His remedy for sin.
...he saw... and wondered {ie., was appalled} that there was no intercessor...-
There was no man fit and able to intervene {interpose himself} to confront Israel's sin and to restore true righteousness and justice. cp. Isa 50:2; 64:7; Jer 5:1; Eze 22:30
therefore, his arm brought salvation unto him...- Isa 52:10
his righteousness sustained {ie., upheld, supported, revived} him...-
as He interposed Himself for the transgressors (Isa 53:11,12).
...for he put on righteousness as a breastplate... an helmet of salvation...-
Figuratively, He girded Himself for battle, to defeat the enemy of His people, and to overturn the kingdom of darkness. (See Psa 118:15,16; Joh 12:31-33; Eph 1:19-21; Rev 19:11-16)
     Believers, equipped with similar spiritual armor, are enabled, not to destroy the defeated enemy, but to stand against him (Eph 6:12-18).
...the garments of vengeance for clothing...- cp. Isa 63:1-5
These are garments that only He can wear, for He alone will judge His enemies (which are also the enemies of His people, Rom 12:19), as the following verses show.
18 According to [their] deeds, accordingly he will repay,
fury to his adversaries, recompence to his enemies;
to the islands
{coastlands, ie., the nations} he will repay recompence.
19 So shall they fear the name of the LORD from the west,
and his glory from the rising of the sun
{ie., from the east}.
When the enemy shall come in like a flood,
the Spirit of the LORD shall lift up a standard against him.
20 And the Redeemer shall come to Zion,
and unto them that turn from transgression in Jacob, saith the LORD.
21 As for me, this [is] my covenant with them, saith the LORD;
My spirit that [is] upon thee, and my words which I have put in thy mouth,
shall not depart out of thy mouth,
nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seed's seed,
saith the LORD, from henceforth and for ever.
according to their deeds, accordingly he will repay {HB=shalam, make peace, settle accounts}...
...fury to his adversaries {opponents}, recompense to his enemies {haters}...- cp. Psa 98:1-3
Unbelievers will be rewarded according to their crimes. Examples:
  • Satan and his Antichrist for hatred, blasphemy and persecution of the saints (Rev 19:20).
  • Apostates for rejecting the Truth they knew (Deu 32:35-43; Heb 10:29,30).
  • The nations according to their treatment of the King's brethren (Mat 25:31-46).
when the enemy shall come in like a flood...- cp. Dan 9:26; Rev 12:15-17; 17:14,15
...the Spirit of the LORD 'shall lift up a standard against them.'- cp. 2The 2:8
Verse 19 can be read in two ways.
  1. When Israel's enemies overwhelm them, the LORD's Spirit will send the Deliverer against them.
    (This is the sense of the KJV and the references above.)
  2. The Messiah will come with overwhelming power as the adversary of Israel's enemies, and by God's Spirit, He will cause them to flee.
    This Rabbinic interpretation rests on a more literal reading of final words of v.19, as: 'shall cause them to flee {or, to disappear},' rather than: 'shall lift up a standard against them.'
With either reading, Israel's enemies will be routed by the power of God's Spirit.
and the Redeemer {HB=ga'al, kinsman redeemer} shall come to Zion...-
Verses 20,21 are quoted in Rom 11:26,27, with minor differences, which are instructive.
  1. '...shall come to Zion' (v.20) versus '...shall come out of Zion' Rom 11:26.
    At His first coming, He came to the earthly Zion (Jerusalem), to become our Savior.
    At His second coming, He will return, from the heavenly Zion, to deliver His people who had previously rejected Him.
  2. ' them that turn from transgression in Jacob' (v.20)
    versus 'the Deliverer...shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob' (Rom 11:26).
    "Romans 11:26, with v.20 of this chapter, present the human and Divine aspects of conversion. Believers turn away from transgression because they have been caused by God so to do; as when a traveller learning from a signpost that he is walking in the wrong direction, turns around. He turns himself around, but it was the information on the signpost that caused him to turn around." [in quotes, GWms]
this is my covenant with them, saith the LORD:
My Spirit that is upon thee, and my words which I have put in thy mouth...-
This is the new heart condition that will suit them for the Kingdom (Isa 58:14).
It is the result of the New Covenant (Jer 31:31-34; 32:38-41), which was established by the blood of the Suffering Servant who came once to die as the Redeemer, and who will come again to reign as their King (Isa 49:8; 55:3; Heb 13:20,21).
...saith the LORD, from henceforth and for ever (v.21).-
These promises to Israel, are guaranteed, by nothing less than the unfailing Word of the LORD. cp. Deu 30:1-10; Isa 58:14

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