The prophet Isaiah continually reminded God’s people of their calling to bring the news of God’s glorious reign to the whole world.  This still holds true in our day.  But why does the church seem so weak and ineffective, continually on the defensive, caving into the popular narrative of self-sufficiency?  Isaiah warns us: we are the problem – not God.  “Look! Listen! God’s arm is not amputated – he can still save.  God’s ears are not stopped up – he can still hear.  There’s nothing wrong with God; the wrong is in you” (Isaiah 59:1-2 – MSG).  The moral and spiritual condition of the people did not allow God to work through them. 

In verses 3-8 the prophet points out many social evils but more their relational sins: “cutthroat cruelty, wicked lies, unjust lawsuits, dishonest testimony, deliberately planned evils that do not even benefit the perpetrators (3-6a).”  “The eager malice with which God’s people can attack one another, and the destruction they can leave behind, creates nothing but human misery, worthy of condemnation by God” (6b-8 – Ortlund: Isaiah). It seems to breaks out like a deep infection, affecting all human relationships.

To their credit the people were realistic about to condition of their nation.  They could very well be describing our own nation. “So there is no justice among us, and we know nothing about right living.  We look for light but find only darkness. We look for bright skies but walk in gloom.  We grope like the blind along a wall, feeling our way like people without eyes” (Isaiah 59:10).  A nation groping, “like the blind along a wall, feeling our way like people without eyes” paints a picture for me of the aggressive national press corps peppering our elected leaders about national and world affairs. Our leaders are simple groping along a wall, hoping to find a way into the light.  They are not able to  accept that “even at brightest noontime, we stumble as though it were dark” (v. 10).  They can recite the latest “talking points” but have no certainty regarding the present narrative to bring peace and prosperity. 

Then the people acknowledge that “…our sins are piled up before God and testify against us.  Yes, we know what sinners we are.  We know we have rebelled and have denied the Lord.  We have turned our backs on our God… Truth stumbles in the streets, and honesty is gone, and anyone who renounces evil is attacked” (v. 12-15).  Those who speak out in our time are called “bigots” for pointing out truth. 

God, however, would not let himself be used by a disobedient people.  “He has withdrawn so that they may taste the full, bitter consequences of their sin” (Webb – Isaiah).  Then Isaiah describes God coming to help his people in an impossible situation. It is a picture of pure grace to those who are undeserving. “So he himself stepped in to save them with his strong arm, and his justice sustained him” (Isaiah 59:16).  In verse 17, we see the Lord getting ready for battle.  He puts on the garments of righteousness, salvation, vengeance and zeal.  “For he will come like a pent-up flood that the breath of the Lord drives along” (Isaiah 59:20).

“Taken as a whole, this powerful picture of God’s girding on his armor expresses the truth that he will not stand by while his people are destroyed; he is totally committed to saving them” (Bible Speaks Today).  Men, are you ever tempted to think that God does not care about you or his people?   He “will repay wrath to his enemies and retribution to his foes” (Is. 59: 18b).