For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning,
that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
Romans 15:4

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 A Bible Study - Commentary by Jim Melough

Copyright 2007 James Melough

59:1. “Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear:”

Heb 7:24-25 is the NT counterpart of this verse, “But this man (Jesus), because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood. Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.” The believer’s confidence rests on the sure foundation of God’s omnipotence exercised for the benefit of all who trust in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior.

59:2. “But your iniquities (crimes) have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.”

Sin has separated men from God, and in the case of the genuine believer it interrupts his communion with God, concerning whom it is written “Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity,” Hab 1:13. Communion is restored only when there is repentant confession and abandonment of the sin that has broken the communion.

59:3. “For your hands are defiled with blood, and your fingers with iniquity; your lips have spoken lies, your tongue hath muttered perverseness.”

Perverseness means wickedness, deceit, untruth, injustice, malicious wrong. Israel is typical of all men, and as her hands were defiled with the blood of the prophets, so are all men’s hands stained with the blood of Christ, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God,” Ro 3:23, and it is only by the shedding of His precious blood that sin could be atoned for, as it is written, “The blood of Jesus Christ, His (God’s) Son cleanseth us (believers) from all sin,” 1 John 1:7.

59:4. “None calleth for justice, nor any pleadeth for truth: they trust in vanity, and speak lies; they conceive mischief, and bring forth iniquity.”

This description of ancient Israel fits all men, the state of today’s world bearing eloquent testimony to its veracity.

59:5. “They hatch cocatrice’ (snake’s) eggs, and weave the spider’s web: he that eateth of their eggs dieth, and that which is crushed (opened) breaketh out into a viper.”

Snake’s eggs and spiders’ webs are synonyms for sin whose deadly character is declared in the fact that the eater of those eggs, i.e., those who practice sin, and those caught in that web will die. The crushed (opened) thing here is the snake’s egg which opened releases the viper, and the lesson being taught is that sin is deadly, as it is written, “The soul that sinneth, it shall die,” Ezek 18:4, “.... sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death,” James 1:15, “For the wages of sin is death ...” Ro 6:23.

59:6. “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.”

Those “webs” stand in stark contrast with the glorious white garments of the saints described in Rev 6:11; 7:9,13-14, “... which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” The webs are in fact the equivalent of the “filthy rags” of self-righteousness which clothe religious, but unconverted Christians [sic].

Violence means rough or injurious force or treatment similar to that meted out to the Lord in the palace of Caiaphas the high priest Mt 26:67, “Then did they spit in his face, and buffeted him; and others smote him with the palms of their hands,” thus fulfilling the prophecy of Isa 52:14, “...his visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men.”

59:7. “Their feet run to evil, and they make haste to shed innocent blood: their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity; wasting and destructing are in their paths.”

The treatment of the Lord in Caiaphas’ palace continues to be the perfect example of the evil described in this verse.

59:8. “The way of peace they know not; and there is no judgment (justice) in their goings: they have made them crooked paths: whosoever goeth therein shall not know peace.”

The experience of the Jews during the past two thousand years confirms the accuracy of this pronouncement.

59:9. “Therefore is judgment (justice) far from us, neither doth justice overtake us: we wait for light, but behold obscurity; for brightness, but we walk in darkness.”

As the Jews of Isaiah’s day failed to understand that their plight was the direct result of their disobedience so is it also with Israel today. She too fails to comprehend the enormity of her sin: her crucifixion of Christ her Messiah.

59:10. “We grope for the wall like the blind, and we grope as if we had no eyes: we stumble at noon day as in the night; we are in desolate places as dead men.”

It would be difficult to find a more accurate description of today’s Israel. While multitudes of believers bask in the sunshine of the full revelation of God given in the New Testament, she stumbles drunkenly in spiritual darkness because in her unconverted state she can neither understand the OT which she has, nor the NT which she rejects and refuses to read. There is no state more desolate than that of the man, Jew and Gentile alike, who remains spiritually blind, “dead in trespasses and sins,” Eph 2:1.

59:11. “We roar (growl) like bears, and mourn sore like doves: we look for judgment (justice), but there is none; for salvation, but it is far off from us.”

This is the symbolic portrait of the unconverted: they are angry, and envious of those who have more of this world’s goods than they, and they mourn at their own seeming misfortune, failing to realize that true riches are not to be measured by the standards of earth, but of heaven, and failing also to realize that little is much if God be in it.

They also looked for justice, and ought to have been thankful that they didn’t receive it, for had their wish been granted they would have been swept immediately into hell. What men need is not worldly wealth, but rather God’s priceless gift of eternal life which is available to all who will confess themselves guilty sinners worthy only of being cast into hell, and who will comprehend the inestimable worth of the gift He wants to give them in response to the faith that will trust in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior.

It is a very great mistake to believe that salvation is far off when it is so near, as it is written, “The word is nigh (near) thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is the word of faith which we preach; that if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine hear that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on Him shall not be ashamed,” Ro 10:8-11. See also Acts 16:30-31 which records the response of Paul and Silas to the question of the Philippian jailor, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved ....”

59:12. “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;”

Connected with “transgression” is the idea of deliberate rebellion, but “sin” here applies more to failure to do what is right. Israel was guilty both of sins of commission and of omission.

This is a confession the natural man will not make until by God’s grace the quick (living) sword of the Word pierces his conscience, “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart,” Heb 4:12. Upon making that confession however, the sinner becomes one whom God will pardon, and upon whom He will bestow His priceless gift of eternal life, transforming him immediately into a saint fitted for heaven.

59:13. “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.”

The NEB translation reads, “We have rebelled and broken faith with the Lord, we have relapsed and forsaken our God; we have conceived lies in our hearts and repeated them in slanderous and treacherous words....” and TAYLOR has rendered it, “We know our disobedience; we have denied the Lord our God. We know what rebels we are and how unfair we are, for we carefully plan our lies.”

These translations obviate the need of further comment.

59:14, “And judgment is turned away backward, and justice standeth afar off: for truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter.”

“... judgment” here means justice or right. So corrupt had Israel become that chicanery had replaced integrity. Lies prevailed in the law courts, and only childish simplicity will believe that it is any different in our own courts, for it is glaringly apparent that he who can hire the most astute attorney wins his case.

59:15. “Yea, truth faileth; and he that departeth from evil maketh himself a prey: and the Lord saw it, and it displeased Him that there was no judgment.”

Other renderings of the first part of this verse are, “... he that turneth away from wrong is liable to be despoiled,” RHM; “... he who shuns evil makes himself an easy mark,” ATT; “Truth is so lacking, that if anyone turns from evil, he becomes a victim of plunder,” BER. Today’s society stands similarly indicted.

“... displeased Him” is also translated, “... it was grievous in His eyes,” RHM; “... in His eyes it was an evil thing,” NEB; “Yahweh has seen this, and is indignant,” JERUS. God’s response remains the same today, His command to believers being, “Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbor: for we are members one of another,” Eph. 4:25; and in Prov 6:25 “a lying tongue,” is one of the seven things which God hates, and calls an abomination.

59:16. “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.”

“... was astonished, appalled, outraged” are other translations of “wondered,” in this verse, which records God’s response to the lack of anyone willing to intervene on behalf of truth and righteousness. He Himself however, supplied the deliverer, the intercessor, by sending His Son to die instead of those whose sin had incurred the sentence of death, thus providing Him, the Father with a perfectly just and righteous basis upon which to save men from having to bear the consequences of their wickedness. Christ’s death upheld the righteousness of the Father Who had said, “The soul that sinneth, it shall die,” Ezek 18:4. Not to execute that sentence would have made God a liar, so Christ assumed responsibility for our sins by taking them upon Himself as though He had committed them, and then going out to Calvary to die in our guilty stead, thereby expiating them, enabling His Father to impute His (Christ’s) perfect righteousness to all who would trust in Him as Savior.

59:17. “For He put on righteousness as a breastplate, and an helmet of salvation upon His head; and He put on the garments of salvation for clothing, and was clad with zeal as a cloak.”

The AAT version of this verse is, “He put on righteousness as a coat of mail, with the helmet of salvation on His head; He put on garments of vengeance for clothing, and wrapped Himself in fury as a cloak.”

Christ’s sin-atoning death enables the Father to be righteous in pardoning believers. Christ has died the death the sinner should have died in accordance with God’s word, “The soul that sinneth, it shall die,” thereby enabling the Father to pardon believers without impugning His own righteousness.

The “garments of vengeance,” and the “fury as a cloak” furnish some idea of the awful fury that enveloped Christ at Calvary where He suffered the outpouring of Divine wrath against sin.

59:18. “According to their deeds, accordingly He will repay, fury to His adversaries, recompense to His enemies; to the islands He will repay recompense.”

God’s abhorrence of sin is disclosed in that all who refuse to accept Christ as Savior will suffer eternal torment in the dreadful lake of fire.

59:19. “So shall they fear the name of the Lord from the west, and his glory from the rising of the sun. When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him.”

In our study of 43:5 we have noted that the west is always associated with approach to God, as the east (where the sun rises) is with departure from Him, so the lesson here may be that believers will have a reverent awe of God as they stand worshiping in His presence, but unbelievers will be terrified as they stand before Him for judgment that will result in their being consigned for ever to the torment of the awful lake of fire. It may be however, that in the present context the reference is to the universal worship that will be offered Him eternally.

The enemy’s coming in like a flood, and God’s lifting up a standard against him, may have a general application to every occasion on which Satan seeks man’s hurt, but many competent exegetes view this verse as a reference to the Great Tribulation which will end with the Lord’s defeat and thousand-year imprisonment of Satan.

59:20. “And the Redeemer shall come to Zion (Jerusalem), and unto them that turn from transgression in Jacob, saith the Lord.”

This too is generally understood to refer to Christ’s ultimate deliverance of Jerusalem.

59:21. “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.”

This promise of eternal blessing addressed to Isaiah embraces the whole nation of Israel, but applies also to every believer. Our blessing will also be eternal.


[Isaiah 60]

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     Scripture portions taken from the Holy Bible, King James Version
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