But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear. For your hands are defiled with blood and your fingers with iniquity...
In Isaiah's time this passage spoke of God's judgment on the people of Judah. Their continued sin and rebellion had turned God's face away from them in punishment. But this passage is also one of Isaiah's prophecies about the coming Savior, thus its meaning extends beyond its original context to the plight of every man. We all have sinned against God. Our sin separates us from God and earns His wrath. We, like the exiles of Isaiah's day, "hope for salvation but find none" in what this world has to offer.
But into this bleak picture steps God Most High.
Now the Lord saw, and it was displeasing in His sight that there was no justice. And He saw that there was no man, and was astonished that there was no one to intercede; then His own arm brought salvation to Him, and His righteousness upheld Him. He put on righteousness like a breastplate, and a helmet of salvation on His head; and He put on garments of vengeance for clothing and wrapped Himself with zeal as a mantle. According to their deeds, so He will repay, wrath to His adversaries, recompense to His enemies... “A Redeemer will come to Zion, and to those who turn from transgression in Jacob,” declares the Lord. (Isaiah 59:15b-18a, 20)
The wickedness of Judah is such that there is none to save. Worse than that, there isn't even one to act as a mediator between to intercede on behalf of the people. God chooses to take this role on Himself in order to save His people. Again, the meaning of this prophecy easily extends to Jesus. All of humanity is lost in sin and unwilling to repent before a holy God. No one intercedes or seeks after God while in sin. There is not even one righteous person in all the earth. So our Heavenly Father sent Jesus to bring salvation to mankind and to act as that needed mediator. Just as verse twenty says, He offers redemption to men who turn from their sin. This happened through His death on the cross during His first coming. But God has also promised a second coming of Christ in which He will sit in judgment over all the earth. He will pour out God's wrath on those who oppose and turn away from God the Father Almighty.
So what are we to do with so great a salvation? Certainly we are to turn from our sin in repentance before the day of His coming in judgment! We are to believe that Jesus is God's Son who took the punishment for our sin upon Himself by His death on the cross. We also ought to believe that He rose from the dead on the third day in order to beat the power of sin and death. He ascended into heaven and now sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty and there He waits to return and judge the living and the dead. Beyond this act of faith, the Lord tells us what else we ought to do in verse twenty-one.
“As for Me, 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 from your mouth, nor from the mouth of your offspring, nor from the mouth of your offspring’s offspring,” says the Lord, “from now and forever.”
We are called to live in the Spirit and to proclaim God's good Word not only to our families but to the whole world. Glory be to the only God who is righteous enough to demand justice against His enemies, loving enough to intercede on their behalf, powerful enough to bring salvation to His enemies, gracious enough to offer them forgiveness by way of His own suffering, and good enough to give them His great Word. Share His good Word with someone today!
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