Isaiah 59 & 60
Isaiah 59:1-13 In chapters 56,57 Isaiah wrote of two kinds of people: the righteous and the wicked. In 57 he wrote of the Lord’s intervention to bring repentance. Then in 58 Isaiah gave two very different uses of the Sabbath. In 59 the great sinfulness of God’s people is emphasized again to the point where they give up all hope. Because God does more than accuse, a tremendous amount of gospel follows immediately, where the Lord intervenes through Christ in the power of the Spirit. 59:1-13 prepares for that with:
1. Clarity about sin, guilt, and man’s spiritual need, as he is helpless under sin’s dominating power.
2. Confession, as the people of God in the very process of being brought to repentance speak the truth about their sin – a wonderful example of godly sorrow leading to repentance and salvation (2 Corinthians 7:8-11).
59:1,2 God is able to save and able to hear. The reason for His refusal to hear is in us: sin separates us from God (1:15). For reconciliation, sinners pray to God in repentance (Luke 18:13); then prayers are received because they have been reconciled. Repeatedly in John 14-16, we are told that our asking is to be in the Name of Christ. When God blesses, He shows that He has been reconciled to us. In Numbers 6:22-27 the priests blessed the people, saying, “The Lord turn His face to you…”. Those priests had offered sacrifices for sinners, so in God’s Name the priests could pronounce a blessing. God hides His face from sinners, but shows it when the sacrifice of Christ brings us to Christ for cleansing (John 12:32).
59:3,4 Various sins are listed in the accusation. He says their hands are stained or defiled. Hands raised to God in prayer were raised against man to kill (1:15). Stained hands are unfit to approach God. The Lord Jesus is the only man in history with “clean hands and a pure heart” (Psalm 24:4). Many sins in Isaiah 59 are man against his fellow man. Somehow the judicial system, which was designed to frustrate sin, was used to advance it (1:17). Many sins listed here are related to our speech (James 3:2-12).
59:5-6 When eggs hatch and a spider’s web is spun, such activities take time to develop. In the case of the eggs hatching, what is happening is at first concealed and only later comes into the open. So it is with sins that are “hatched” in the heart – evil plans are laid and then executed openly (Psalm 10; Proverbs 1:10-19). The goal of these sins is the destruction of others. The cobweb makes a very poor covering; it will not keep one warm, and everyone can see through it. Sinners invent excuses and arguments to cover themselves before God. Of course God sees through this cobweb. They justify their sin, while in the gospel God justifies sinners without a cover-up of their sin (Romans 4:5). He does this for those who trust in Christ and gives them a genuine righteousness that is not the product of their obedience but Christ’s (Philippians 3:8,9). The Lord clothes with robes of righteousness, not cobwebs.
59:6-7 Isaiah follows with the results of the sins conceived in the heart: deeds of violence, and murder; since it was done swiftly, this may indicate a sudden act of passion. In v.3, the tools of sin were hands, fingers, lips, and tongues. Now in v.7 Isaiah has added the feet. Using various Old Testament passages, the Apostle Paul did the same in Romans 3:10-18. Clearly the parts of the body are instruments of sin (Romans 6:13). Evil deeds come from evil thoughts. Sin does not just happen; often it is planned. It festers in the heart, and appears when opportunity strikes. The result is destruction, not merely for the sinner and his victim, but of the order and peace of the community; everyone suffers.
59:8 V.8 is a summary of what preceded with ‘peace’ as brackets for the verse. Isaiah brings up peace a number of times. He speaks of peace with God, as in 53:5, but here he shows there is no peace of any kind (Romans 3:17). Sin pollutes in every way. It never does anyone any good. So Isaiah ends this segment with a picture of devastation before the radical change of theme that follows. This verse expresses the same turmoil of a tossing sea found in 57:20,21.
59:9-13 The Confession Sinners being brought to confession is a benefit that came from God accusing them in vv.1-4, or illustrating and describing sin as in vv.5-8. Describing sin may have no effect on a sinner, but confession is agreeing with God about our sin. Confession alone and sorrow alone are not repentance; there must be a turning from it and a turning to the Lord. Repentance is impossible without a recognition and admission of sin before God. This is vital to conversion, because without repentance there is no faith and no salvation (Matthew 11:20: 21:31,32; Luke 13:1-5). In this confession we have the fulfillment of God’s declaration in 57:19 that He would create the suitable words on the lips of those who mourn because of their sin.
In Daniel’s prayer (Daniel 9), we find the prophet confessing sin with the people as one of them. Here Isaiah does the same saying ‘us’, ‘we’ and ‘our’. (See also 1:9. 33:21,22, & 53:6.) Later in 64:5-12, Isaiah will join in the confession again. The most righteous people on earth have made but a small beginning in holiness.  Every man has reason to confess sins often. Every one of God’s people needs salvation from the Savior.
59:12,13 A strong word for sin opens v.12; it indicates rebellion, showing that the sin is willful. God declares sinners guilty, until in justification He acquits the sinner. Our sins testified that His original declaration about us was true. (Christians have sins and thus the kind of guilt that means sin is still present and wrong (1 John 1:8-10), yet we are not guilty of our sin in the sense that we are not forgiven, nor that “sinner” is our status before God. This anomaly is temporary, lasting until salvation is complete. Our sin is real but, thank the Lord, temporary.) When Isaiah says “iniquity”, he means to show how serious our sin is. He elaborates by calling it treachery. Just as there can be no adultery unless a marriage covenant is broken, there can be no treachery unless a pledge of faithfulness has been violated. That is the terrible position every person is in when he confesses to being in covenant with God. People who never knew God at all, have not turned their backs on God as ‘their God’, so in that sense, are not as wicked as covenant breakers.
Isaiah 59:14 – 63:6 is not as well known to many Christians as the earlier chapters with the Servant Songs. 59-63 also has four units that center on Christ; one of which, 61:1-3, is famous because Jesus quoted it of Himself in Luke 4:16-21. All four references appear close together: 59:21; 61:1-3; 61:10 – 62:7; 63:1-6.
59:14,15 In Isaiah 59:1-13 God accuses of sin and people confess how they are powerless under it. Vv.14,15 agree with their confession. Truth and righteousness are not found. (See Psalm 14:2,3.) Human nature is so corrupt that a person can be in trouble for doing what is right.
59:15,16 God knows sinners are helpless; He is not really surprised. It is essential that sinners learn that they are powerless. We cannot control sin; sin will control us unless its power is broken for us by One stronger than our sin (Romans 6:6,22,23; 1 John 4:4). Since there is no help for man in man (Psalm 12; 60:12), God decided that He would intervene. Somehow He would stand between the people and the results of their sin. How has God done this? He placed Christ as Mediator between Himself and us (1Timothy 2:5,6).
Man is helpless, and only God can save him. False religions tell man how to help himself. They say, “This is what you are to do.” In the gospel, God tells us what He has done. There is a difference between advice and salvation! We once lived dead in sin, “but God…made us alive with Christ” (Ephesians 2:4,5). We were hated and we hated right back, “but when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us…” (Titus 3:3-5). Salvation is divine intervention. The incarnation of Christ is God’s counterattack.
Earlier the “Arm of the Lord” was Christ (50:2; 51:5,9; 52:10; 53:1). Isaiah says in v.16 that God’s arm worked salvation. He may mean that He was personally and powerfully involved, which is true, and he may mean that by Christ, God worked salvation, which is also true. Isaiah may have left it ambiguous deliberately so we would consider both truths.
59:17 The picture is of God getting dressed to take on some work. We can tell what a man is going to do by what clothes he puts on. A uniform for a soldier and clothing for a farmer suggest their activity before they even begin. Here God puts on the armor of a warrior.
59:17,18 This means He is entering into a battle. By showing what clothing He puts on, He announces His righteous intention to save and also to take vengeance. In our culture, all talk of God saving and forgiving fits what we would like Him to be, but when the truth of vengeance is expressed, many feel that such a notion is sub-Christian. To bring us salvation, God battles error, unbelief, and the resistance of our hearts. It is also warfare when God repays wrath to His enemies for what they have done. In 42:10-13, the Lord brings salvation to distant islands and also triumphs over His enemies. God always deals in justice. He either shows just vengeance on sinners with no Mediator, or shows grace to sinners because His justice was satisfied by our Mediator.
59:19 In all the world men will revere the glory of the Lord, the opposite of what God observed in vv.14,15 before His arm went to work for Him (v.16). Only God can bring such a change. The enemy came in like a flood and the Lord raised a banner against this threat, by the same Spirit that will be on Christ (v.20).
The Redeemer will come to
The first reference to Christ: 59:21 God announced He would react to their helpless condition (vv.16,17). Here He says what His covenant with them will be. This is not a continuation of the covenant with Adam, which was broken by man and since then can only bring death from God (Genesis 2:17). The covenant with Adam was made with a sinless man. How can our holy God have a covenant that brings life with His people when they are sinners?
Note that the “you” in v. 21 is singular. This unnamed Person will have the Spirit. This is a reference to Christ as 61:1 and Luke 4:16-21 clearly show. The Lord puts His Spirit on Christ in 42:1 to give the Lord’s words as in 49:2 & 42:4, and bring comfort as in 50:4 & 61:2,3. What Isaiah said earlier of the Servant fits what he says later of the Anointed One. It is the same Person.
Great and amazing are your deeds, O Lord God the Almighty! Just and true are your ways, O King of the nations! Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship you, for your righteous acts have been revealed." (Revelation 15:3,4 ESV)
In the preceding verses they come by
land; now they come in ships. On a road a group must come in a line one behind
the other; here they come as clouds, for ships can travel side by side. Coming
like doves to their nests, means these foreigners left to come to the Lord as
their true home. They leave the gods of their fathers and come to
60:10-11 The foreigners build the walls not as slaves but as willing citizens. The attraction was the grace God showed His people. That He should be angry and punish them for their treachery is understandable (Deuteronomy 29:22-27), but He has had compassion on those so faithless and treated them well because of their Mediator (59:21). This is a surprise that gets their attention and draws them to the Lord. The world understands vengeance; it is not a surprise, but grace is. With so much wealth coming, the gates are never closed. These kings probably do not come as prisoners but as kings welcomed and bearing gifts – not as kings defeated but attracted and serving gladly.
Any nation that will not serve
They have a different light. The sun is
not constant. In James 1:17, unlike the Lord, the shadows of a sundial move.
The Lord is not their light occasionally but their everlasting light. He will
be among them constantly. (In Ezekiel 10:18, the glory of the Lord had departed
Solitary Abraham was turned from one man
to a nation;
 Q. 87. What is repentance unto life?
Repentance unto life is a saving grace, whereby a sinner, out of a true sense
of his sin, and apprehension of the mercy of God in Christ, doth, with grief and
hatred of his sin, turn from it unto God, with full purpose of, and endeavor
after, new obedience. (
 114. Q. But
can those converted to God keep these commandments perfectly? A. No. In this life even the holiest
have only a small beginning of this obedience. Nevertheless, with earnest
purpose they do begin to live not only according to some but to all the
commandments of God. (The