All of Christ for All of Life
Grace Alone, Faith Alone, Christ Alone

17 February 2021 – Isaiah 59:14-21

Justice is turned back,
and righteousness stands far away;
for truth has stumbled in the public squares,
and uprightness cannot enter.
Truth is lacking,
and he who departs from evil makes himself a prey.

The LORD saw it, and it displeased him
that there was no justice.
He saw that there was no man,
and wondered that there was no one to intercede;
then his own arm brought him salvation,
and his righteousness upheld him.
He put on righteousness as a breastplate,
and a helmet of salvation on his head;
he put on garments of vengeance for clothing,
and wrapped himself in zeal as a cloak.
According to their deeds, so will he repay,
wrath to his adversaries, repayment to his enemies;
to the coastlands he will render repayment.
So they shall fear the name of the LORD from the west,
and his glory from the rising of the sun;
for he will come like a rushing stream,
which the wind of the LORD drives.

“And a Redeemer will come to Zion,
to those in Jacob who turn from transgression,” declares the LORD.

“And as for me, this is my covenant with them,” says the LORD: “My Spirit that is upon you, and my words that I have put in your mouth, shall not depart out of your mouth, or out of the mouth of your offspring, or out of the mouth of your children’s offspring,” says the LORD, “from this time forth and forevermore.” – Isaiah 59:14-21 (ESV)

R. Reed Lessing writes:

Up to this point in chapter 59, it appears as though the apostates are going to reign supreme. Everything seems to be dominated by ruthless power. But Yahweh is a dominant alternative power who defies conventional expectations. He will usher in a counter-reality tooted in his ancient exodus claims, for he is the only and holy God, the decisive force in the universe. All self-indulgent and autonomous hedonism comes under his all-seeing judgment.

When Jeremiah (14:1-15:4) prays for Israel, Yahweh refuses to listen because He had already decreed His judgment upon the stubbornly impenitent people. Because the people have so willfully refused to trust in Him, their judgment is inevitable. One might expect that Yahweh will take the same stance in relation to the prayer in Isaiah 59:1-15a. However, this is not the case. Thank God! Instead of pointing out that there is every reason for Him to ignore their prayer (59:1-8), He demonstrates concern. This move from Law to Gospel is equivalent to Paul’s indictment of humanity in Romans 3:1-20, followed by His grand Gospel statement “but now, apart from the Law, the righteousness of God has been made manifest, [the righteousness] testified to by the Law and the Prophets” (Romans 3:21). The surprising Gospel turn means life and salvation for the world!

MEMORY WORK – Shorter Catechism Q/A 63
Q. 63. Which is the fifth commandment?
A. The fifth commandment is, Honor thy father and thy mother; that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.