#53 for January 22, 2019
Isaiah paints a picture of evil in chapter 59. Because people’s sins have cut them off from the Lord, God can’t answer their prayers with blessings.
Isaiah says, “So justice is far from us, and righteousness does not reach us.” All are affected by the evil. Isaiah is confessing for all, and speaking for all the faithful of the land who realize their need for God.
Even if we are not guilty of committing heinous sins, we may be guilty of sins of omission. If we see someone oppressed or bullied and don’t try to stick up for them, to stop the bullying, isn’t that as bad as if we oppressed them ourselves? If we see someone starving and refuse to give them food, isn’t that another sin of omission? Jesus wants us to have compassion on all and fight for justice. Most of us can do more to help than we’ve been doing.
The sad thing is that God’s people seem unable to obey God. Can any of us produce righteousness on our own? “…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” (Romans 3:23, NIV).
The only answer to this sin problem is that God would “come and do for his people what neither they nor anyone else can do for them. That is, the same “arm” (59:16) that made it possible for them to be restored to fellowship with God. The Servant), will now defeat the sin that reigns in them and will make it possible for them to be, in truth, the servants of the Lord. The Servant had been submissive, undergoing the punishment the erring sheep had brought on themselves. Now the arm of the Lord is revealed as a conquering warrior (59:17),” (Oswalt, 636).
God will “come to Zion as Redeemer” to those who repent of their sins; “this is my covenant with them, says the LORD: my spirit which is upon you, and my words which I have put in your mouth, shall not depart out of your mouth, or out of the mouths of your children…” (Isaiah 59:20, 21).
The prophet Jeremiah explains this more clearly: “The time is coming…when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them,” declares the Lord. “This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time…I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,…For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” (Jeremiah 31:31-34, NIV).
God is always ready to offer mercy to those who will repent of their sin, and his mercy even gives the gift of repentance so we are able to repent, and then the ability to obey.
After being restored to fellowship with God, Jesus is on the throne of my heart. He has become my “everlasting light” and my “days of sorrow have ended,” (Isa. 60:20, NIV). Praise the Lord!
Judith Vander Wege
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