In Isaiah 59:9-12, the prophet offers a prayer of confession appropriate to the spiritual condition of the people of God. Rather then blaming God or the culture Isaiah identifies with the people, lamenting “there is no justice among us, and we know nothing about right living” (Is 59:9 NLT). He prays further: “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. Even at brightest noontime, we stumble as though it were dark. Among the living, we are like the dead. We growl like hungry bears; we morn like mourning doves. We look or justice, but it never comes. We look for rescue, but it is far away from us’ (Is. 59:9-12 NLT).
Bible scholar Barry Webb says of this passage: “It is hard to imagine a situation more desperate in the life of God’s people than the one described here…..there is still one element of hope, and that, is the lament itself. As long as there are people who weep, apostasy is not total. The faithful few hold the door ajar, so to speak, for God to enter the situation again and drive the darkness back.” Men I suggest lament as a helpful spiritual practice in our day.
In the collective consciousness of our nation, I wonder if there is not the sense that we are “‘groping like the blind along a wall” responding like dead men walking, “knowing nothing about living.” Even at noontime we still stumble as though it were darkness. It seems like the ‘lights have gone out.” But as followers of Jesus we are walking “in the light of the Lord” (Is. 2:5). While fixing our gaze upon Jesus, we can learn to lament as we continually cry out for God to be merciful toward our nation. We have lost our way, and only the Lord can help us find our way back.
Isaiah living among and identified with the people he led to confession of their sins. His prayer comes after his discerned the human condition all around him to be desperate, knowing the people were not capable of needed change. The mood was like that of an angry trapped bear, along with a mourning similar to that of the dove. It is one of sullen anguish, expressed today in lack of civility, expressed in accusations on all sides. Isaiah’s listeners kept looking for “justice” but to no avail. The unhinging of the culture could not be changed. They hoped for “rescue” but it was not within reach. They felt trapped with no way out.
Isaiah is pointing the people to look to God. They are to humbly confess the waywardness of their nation. “For our offenses are many in your sight, and our sins testify against us, our offenses are ever with us, and we acknowledge our iniquities” (Is. 59:12 NLT). Attempting to walk in the light amidst the ever increasing darkness, I have come to make these words a continual prayer, as I try to make some sense out of heated political and social discord in our nation.
Like Isaiah I live in a culture, where we, “stumble as though it were dark.” I claim the promise of Isaiah 60:1 spoken by God through the prophet, “Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.” This light will never be overcome. We have the promise: “The Light shines on in the darkness, and the darkness did not understand it or overpower it or appropriate it or absorb it [and is unreceptive to it]” (John 1:5 – amplified).