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Sunday School Lesson

August 2

A Redeemer in Zion

 

 

Devotional Reading: Exodus 6:2-8

 

Background Scripture:Isaiah 59; Psalm 89:11-18

 

 

Focal Verses

Isaiah 59:15-21

 

15Truth is nowhere to be found,and whoever shuns evil becomes a prey.

 

The Lord looked and was displeased that there was no justice.

 

 

 

16He saw that there was no one, he was appalled that there was no one to intervene;

 

so his own arm achieved salvation for him,and his own righteousness sustained him.

 

 

 

17He put on righteousness as his breastplate, and the helmet of salvation on his head;

 

he put on the garments of vengeance and wrapped himself in zeal as in a cloak.

 

 

 

18According to what they have done, so will he repay wrath to his enemies

 

and retribution to his foes; he will repay the islands their due.

 

 

 

19From the west, people will fear the name of the Lord, and from the rising of the sun, they will revere his glory. For he will come like a pent-up flood that the breath of the Lord drives along.

 

20“The Redeemer will come to Zion, to those in Jacob who repent of their sins,” declares the Lord.

 

 

 

21“As for me, this is my covenant with them,” says the Lord. “My Spirit, who is on you, will not depart from you, and my words that I have put in your mouth will always be on your lips, on the lips of your children and on the lips of their descendants—from this time on and forever,” says the Lord.

 

Key Verse

 

“The Redeemer will come to Zion, to those in Jacob who repent of their sins,” declares the Lord.—Isaiah 59:20

 

Lesson Aims

 

After participating in this lesson, each learner will be able to:

 

1. Describe the state of affairs in the Israel of Isaiah’s day and God’s reaction to it.

 

2. Explain how and why God’s warning of his righteous judgment forms part of his message of redemption.

 

3. Plan an outreach event to spread the message of the Redeemer in the community.

 

 

Introduction

 

A. Are You Angry?

 

If you aren’t angry, you aren’t paying attention. Perhaps you have seen this slogan on bumper stickers or billboards. We might object to it. After all, we should control our anger, shouldn’t we? And I resent being told that I am not paying attention! I read the bumper sticker, did I not?

 

But that provocative saying makes a point that Christians should affirm. Injustice and wickedness seem rampant. Everywhere we turn, we see the power of evil. How can a thoughtful person not be angry in a world like this? Our indignant reaction reflects how God made us. As people who bear his image, our response to the world should reflect his own. Our Creator is utterly just, righteous, and holy. He cannot tolerate the evil that mars his creation and victimizes people. God’s wrath, his righteous anger against evil, burns against all that is wrong. When we feel indignant anger about the evils we see, we reflect God’s own reaction.

 

But God’s intent is not merely to destroy evil. He also intends to enact justice and righteousness as he reasserts his rightful reign over creation. As those who bear his image, we long for his will to be done! Yet if we are honest, we know that we are part of the reason that God’s justice does not reign as fully as it should in our world. The righteousness that we desire is the very thing we often reject in our stubborn selfishness. We regularly act in ways that embody evil, not justice. We who long for the solution are part of the problem.

 

Today’s text reflects these realities. Above and beyond that, however, it expresses God’s promise to establish his justice despite our failures.

 

B. Lesson Background

 

The prophet Isaiah delivered his messages during the turbulent eighth century BC. Judah, the southern kingdom in Israel’s divided monarchy, was threatened by the powerful Assyrian empire. Isaiah’s generation had witnessed the Assyrians’ destruction of the northern kingdom of Israel in 722 BC, and only by God’s intervention did Judah and Jerusalem survive that awful time (see 2 Kings 18:13-19:37; Isaiah 36, 37).

 

But the threat from within was just as great, if not more so. Of the four kings who ruled Judah in Isaiah’s day (see Isaiah 1:1), three were relatively “good” and one was quite evil. But the unholiness that had gained a grip continued during the reigns of the good kings (2 Kings 15:4, 35). Temporary repentance would occur (2 Chronicles 32:26), but it was always just that—temporary. Judah was surrounded by violent, ungodly nations, and Judah itself had become such a nation.

 

How could a holy God tolerate all that unholiness? How could he promise that his people would become a “light for the Gentiles” (Isaiah 42:6; compare 49:6) when the Israelites were as sinful as the pagan nations around them? Our text today is part of a larger context that addresses such questions.

 

I. Injustice and Righteousness

 

                                                              (Isaiah 59:15-17)

 

A. The Lord’s Displeasure (vv. 15, 16a)

 

 

 

15. Truth is nowhere to be found, and whoever shuns evil becomes a prey.

 

The Lord looked and was displeased that there was no justice.

 

 

 

As God surveys his world, he sees the utter ruin of his original design. Truth, understanding, and living in accord with God’s reality has failed. Isaiah has just compared truth’s condition with a person who stumbles and falls helpless in the street (Isaiah 59:14). That image is appropriate for a nation like Judah. Although entrusted with God’s law and land, it chooses to seek safety in wealth and political alliances with pagan nations.

 

Evil runs rampant in settings where truth is ignored. Whoever shuns evil is victimized by those who have abandoned truth to embrace evil. Often such victims are society’s most vulnerable (see Isaiah 1:17, 23; 10:2). In such an environment, the weak are left unprotected and the righteous are abused as the godless, truth-denying people exercise unbridled power.

 

What Do You Think?

 

Who has been the greatest influence for you being a truthful person at various stages of life? Why?

 

Points for Your Discussion

 

During your preteen years

 

During your teenage years

 

During adulthood

 

But God sees all this. He is not distant and indifferent; he is in fact deeply engaged. What God seeks is justice, referring to governance of his world that reflects his character and purpose. This is the responsibility of all who are created in his image. This responsibility involves how to live, how to interact with others, and what to expect from others. For the powerful, it means discretion in their own exercise of power as they yield to God’s purposes. For the weak, it means to trust in his way for protection and relief.

 

But the prophet tells us that God sees no justice as he looks at his world. Such a situation is intolerable for him, the holy one.

 

 

 

16a. He saw that there was no one, he was appalled that there was no one to intervene;

 

 

 

As God surveys the situation, he sees its hopelessness. His justice is absent because there is no one who practices it! So God is appalled that there is also no one to intervene to make things right again. This is the issue that confronted Isaiah when he had a vision of the holy God: that man realized himself to be a sinful person, surrounded by sinful people (Isaiah 6:5). Who can be God’s instrument in such a dire situation?

 

 

B. The Lord’s Solution (vv. 16b, 17)

 

 

 

16b. ... so his own arm achieved salvation for him, and his own righteousness sustained him.

 

 

 

The answer! If none but God expresses his justice, then God himself must be the one to establish that justice. Isaiah speaks of God’s arm as a way of referring to his mighty power, exercised like a warrior who uses his strong arm to wield a sword. That mighty power of God will bring salvation, which refers to the entire plan of God to retake his world. As God does so, he will establish justice and rescue his people from the terrible position in which they find themselves by their own doing.

 

God’s righteousness—his utter commitment to that which is right and just—is the basis on which he moves to transform his deeply unrighteous and unjust people and the unrighteous and unjust world in which they live. In this sinful world, none but God can do this!

 

Acting on God’s Behalf

 

The Bible sometimes presents God to us in terms of human form, characteristics, or actions. (The technical term for this is anthropomorphism.) That’s what we see in the verse above and the one following. This technique helps us understand God at a level most familiar to us. The Bible on occasion also presents God to us in terms of animal characteristics (examples: Psalm 91:4; Luke 13:34).

 

We are grateful for this aid to understanding! But as we ponder what is to be brought about by God’s “arm,” we should not let the magnificence of this imagery cause us to miss a vital point: This action was not God’s first choice! His first choice was that a human intercessor would act on his behalf. But since “there was no one” to be found to do so, God decided to take the necessary action himself. We see the same issue in Ezekiel 22:29, 30.

 

When God looks at the world today, does he see anyone willing to act on his behalf to bring about his justice? Praying for God’s justice to prevail is a good thing. Following that prayer with action to make it happen is even better!—R. L. N.

 

What Do You Think?

 

When was a time you expected someone to act on your behalf but the person failed to do so? What did you learn from this experience?

 

Points for Your Discussion

 

Regarding a legal issue

 

Regarding an issue at work or school

 

Regarding a family issue

 

Other

 

 

 

17a. He put on righteousness as his breastplate, and the helmet of salvation on his head;

 

 

 

Seeing the awful, helpless condition of the world, God figuratively arms himself for battle. His armaments of breastplate and helmet are characterized by the very qualities that he alone can bring to the world, two attributes on which Isaiah has already focused: righteousness and salvation. No one can be found to have God’s righteousness, so he is the one to bring it to the battle. None but God can bring salvation, so he is the one to bring it to the battle as well. There can be no doubt: God, so armed with what the world lacks, will prevail in the battle with evil.

 

What Do You Think?

 

Considering this armament alongside that of Ephesians 6:13-17, where is your preparedness for spiritual battle most in need of improvement? How will that improvement happen?

 

Points for Your Discussion

 

Regarding offensive functions

 

Regarding defensive functions

 

Other

 

 

 

17b. ... he put on the garments of vengeance

 

 

 

The picture becomes more intense. God’s figurative clothing for battle is vengeance. That word may trouble us at some level, but it is a vital expression of God’s righteousness and holiness. The God whom Isaiah saw in his vision of chapter 6 is the holy one who cannot tolerate evil. His very nature requires that evil be punished. The crime demands a punishment, and the punishment will fit the crime.

 

To pay back what evil deserves is to deliver the vengeance of retributive justice. Humans are imperfect agents of doing so. But the God who demands such retribution is capable of delivering it perfectly—and he does! Vengeance belongs only to him (Deuteronomy 32:35; quoted in Romans 12:19). Were it not for God’s vengeance, we would have no assurance of justice in the world.

 

God’s vengeance is also part of the framework of his mercy, since the reality of his justified vengeance is what makes his offer of mercy meaningful. Justice demands retribution, and as sinners we all fall under that sentence of death. Without God’s mercy, we would all be doomed. As we clamor for justice, we will see our guilt in that regard. In turn, this should make us aware of our utter need for God’s mercy.

 

 

 

17c. ... and wrapped himself in zeal as in a cloak.

 

 

 

At least some in Isaiah’s audience doubtless wonder whether God will ever act to bring justice and retribution. They are not alone in that regard (examples: Judges 6:13; Habakkuk 1:2; Revelation 6:10). Has God forgotten the plight of the weak? Has he abandoned the world to evil?

 

The prophet delivers a ringing assurance to the contrary! God demonstrates a passionate zeal for the battle to establish his justice. Figuratively, God’s zeal is such an important part of his nature that he wears it as though it were a cloak. Even if he seems distant as we toil in the midst of evil, his zeal for righteousness assures us that he will always act on his people’s behalf in his time.

 

II. Repayment and Glory

 

                                                                  (Isaiah 59:18, 19)

 

A. Enemies Defeated (v. 18)

 

 

 

18. According to what they have done, so will he repay wrath to his enemies and retribution to his foes; he will repay the islands their due.

 

 

 

To establish justice, God assures that the punishment fits the crime—the idea of according to what they have done. He does not act arbitrarily. Each individual is to receive punishment for what he or she does (compare Revelation 20:12, 13; 22:12). God’s judgment is, in effect, repayment: simple and perfect retributive justice. This is the very justice that the oppressed cry out for (Psalm 28:4).

 

God accomplishes this by unleashing his power on his enemies. Wrongdoers are rebels against him; they are subjects of the divine king who plot insurrection. God’s judgment brings those enemies to the divine bar of justice. His wrath is not an irrational, knee-jerk reaction. Rather, such judgment is his righteous, holy indignation in response to the evil done by those who rebel against him.

 

This justice is not merely for the Israelites and their neighbors—it goes worldwide. Isaiah understands that God is Lord not just of a single nation or region but of the whole world. All peoples in all places are subject to his judgment and justice. For the Israelites, a people unaccustomed to seafaring, many such are across the seas; these places are the islands beyond the horizon. Isaiah expresses conviction that even those places, usually inaccessible to him and his people, will also be the objects of God’s retributive justice.

 

The holy one of Israel will not let evil continue forever in his world. Were he to do so, he would not be true to himself. The justice that people long for is the justice that he promises ultimately to all.

 

What Do You Think?

 

How does belief in God’s ultimate justice help when facing injustice in the here and now?

 

Points for Your Discussion

 

When you are wronged

 

When a fellow believer is wronged

 

When interacting with unbelievers

 

Other

 

B. God Triumphant (v. 19)

 

 

 

19a. From the west, people will fear the name of the Lord, and from the rising of the sun, they will revere his glory.

 

 

 

Isaiah promises that the ultimate result of God’s judgment is global submission to his rule. The worldwide scope is seen in Isaiah’s pointing to both the west and the east (the rising of the sun). The fear that people will demonstrate will not be simply a dread of punishment but one of awe and respect that reflects a corrected assessment of God. Such fear is directed especially to the name of the Lord, meaning his authority. To fear God’s name is to revere him and submit to him as king, being fully aware of his righteousness and power.

 

Universal Justice

 

The U.N. Commission on Human Rights was formed in 1948 to be a watchdog over issues of human rights. But the commission came under criticism through the years because many of its member-states had poor records on human rights themselves. A tipping point came in 2004 when the U.S. ambassador declared Sudan’s election to the commission an “absurdity” given that country’s campaign of ethnic cleansing in its Darfur region.

 

The commission was replaced in 2006 by the U.N. Human Rights Council for a fresh start at promoting human rights. But achieving justice at the international level is hindered by vested interests that resist change. Further adding to the problem is that there are various kinds of justice to be considered (retributive, distributive, procedural, and restorative) and defined.

 

This problem is not confined to the international level. What I think is just and right may seem terribly unfair to you. Apart from a divine standard, justice is difficult to imagine and hard to attain. Isaiah gives us hope as he predicts the day when the whole creation will experience God’s justice. There is no better kind.—C. R. B.

 

 

 

19b. For he will come like a pent-up flood that the breath of the Lord drives along.

 

 

 

The proper translation of this half-verse is uncertain, and this alternative is offered in a footnote of some editions of the NIV: “When enemies come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord will put them to flight.” But under either translation, the end result is clear: as God’s rule is established, he sweeps away every imaginable threat. The emphasis is on the full accomplishment of God’s will in the world. The holy one of Israel will reign as king over all that he has created.

 

III. Redeemer and Covenant

 

                                                                (Isaiah 59:20, 21)

 

A. Future Deliverance (v. 20)

 

 

 

20. “The Redeemer will come to Zion, to those in Jacob who repent of their sins,” declares the Lord.

 

When God establishes his global justice, it will mean restoration for his people. As Isaiah writes this, he addresses an audience that is aware of his earlier warnings that Judah will one day be taken captive as God’s judgment on their rebellion (Isaiah 3; 39:6, 7). But God has promised to visit his people beyond that captivity to liberate them as he did in the exodus from Egypt (Deuteronomy 30:1-5; Isaiah 49:8-26), and Isaiah repeats that promise here. God will not abandon his to-be-exiled people. As their Redeemer, he will lead them a second time from enslavement to freedom. This promise is to those in Jacob—that is, Jacob’s descendants, the people of Israel—who repent of their sins (compare Paul’s loose quotation of this verse and part of the next in Romans 11:26, 27a).

 

With the use of the word Redeemer, Isaiah embeds God’s mercy in the announcement of judgment. Justice requires that rebellion against him be penalized, the penalty here taking the form of exile. But God promises restoration for those who repent and seek his mercy. It is his mercy, not his judgment, that God ultimately seeks for his people. In warning of judgment, God is exercising his mercy as he invites stubborn rebels to be restored to his blessing.

 

What Do You Think?

 

When have you seen a person having to experience the pain of “hitting rock bottom” before finally repenting? What did you learn from this?

 

Points for Your Discussion

 

A colleague

 

A family member

 

A neighbor

 

Other

 

B. Eternal Relat

21. “As for me, this is my covenant with them,” says the Lord. “My Spirit, who is on you, will not depart from you, and my words that I have put in your mouth will always be on your lips, on the lips of your children and on the lips of their descendants—from this time on and forever,” says the Lord.

ionship (v. 21)

 

To reinforce his promise to restore justice for his people, God recalls his covenant with them. This covenant is the statement of obligations and promises that he gave to his people at Mount Sinai. God’s covenant includes both warnings of judgment for disobedience and promises of restored blessing for repentance.

 

But as God recalls this covenant, an abrupt change takes place as he switches from discussing the plural them to begin addressing you (twice) and your (three times), which are singular in number. This singular individual is endowed with God’s Spirit (compare 1 Samuel 10:6). God puts his words in the mouth of this person, as he does with the prophets (compare Ezra 1:1). His words in this individual’s mouth will remain powerful for the descendants of generations that extend from this time on and forever.

 

Of whom is God speaking? The concept of one who establishes God’s truth forever reminds us of the promise of a great king like David, a forthcoming ruler whose throne God is to establish forever (2 Samuel 7:16). The concept of one who speaks for God by his Spirit reminds us of the promise to send a prophet like Moses (Deuteronomy 18:18, 19). The reference to descendants echoes God’s promise to Abraham that by his offspring all the nations are to be blessed (Genesis 22:18). Thus we are driven to conclude that Isaiah is voicing God’s promise to send the great king, the great prophet, the one who blesses all nations.

 

Isaiah has already spoken of one to be known as Immanuel, meaning “God with us” (Isaiah 7:14), one to have God’s authority to bring his peace (9:6, 7), “a Branch” from the roots of King David’s father, Jesse, to establish perfect peace (11:1). Knowing what happens some eight centuries after Isaiah’s prophecy, we can identify Jesus as the you of the verse before us. He is the means by which God restores blessing to people (Matthew 1:23). He is the means by which God brings his perfect justice to the world.

 

Conclusion

 

A. God’s Justice Brings Hope

 

Living in a world filled with evil and injustice as we do, it is natural to become angry or discouraged. But we have great hope in hearing of God’s commitment to bring justice. Isaiah offered a glimpse of what lies beyond the oppression of injustice and certainty of God’s judgment: the promise of God’s mercy. The prophet reminded the people of his day that the merciful God intended to restore his glorious design to those willing to receive it. That reminder is ours as well.

 

                                                                                        

 

 

 

 

The fact that we know the climax of the story gives us an advantage over Isaiah and his audience: the Son of God has indeed visited his people! Having given his life as the perfect sacrifice, he has satisfied the requirements of God’s justice to punish sin (Isaiah 52:13-53:12), thus enabling his mercy to be poured out. Risen from the dead, Jesus now reigns on high (Hebrews 1:3) as we await his return when he will judge some (Acts 10:42) and redeem others (Mark 13:26, 27).

 

Knowing how the promises are fulfilled, we have a duty beyond that of Isaiah’s audience. Knowing how God exhibits his justice and mercy through Jesus, we have every reason and obligation to reflect those in the way we live.

 

B. Prayer

 

Almighty God, we ask that you empower us to be people of justice even as we extend mercy as you have been merciful to us. In the name of Jesus, our just and merciful king, amen!

 

C. Thought to Remember

Proclaim both God’s justiceand his mercy.

 

 

How to Say It

 

anthropomorphism an-thruh-puh-more-fih-zum.

Assyrian Uh-sear-e-un.

Isaiah Eye-zay-uh.

Judah Joo-duh.

Sinai Sigh-nye or Sigh-nay-eye.

 

 

 

 

KIDS’ CORNER

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Our Redeemer Comes

                                           

Lesson: Isaiah 59:15-21

Time of Action:Between 700 and 695 B.C.

Place of the action:Jerusalem

                                                                                                 

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

 

 

 

 

I.  INTRODUCTION 

Biblical history reveals that the nations of Israel and Judah consistently demonstrated a lack of justice.  It seems that there was nothing good to be found in the business transactions, religion, and courts of these ancient nations.  A solution was needed.  However, if a solution was to be found, God would have to provide one.  The title for this week’s lesson is “Our Redeemer Comes.”  But before the Prophet Isaiah can tell us about the coming Redeemer, he first had to describe the plight of God’s people.

 

 

 

 

II. BACKGROUND FOR THE LESSON

At the time of our lesson, the northern kingdom of Israel had been invaded and taken captive by the Assyrians in 721 B.C.  In Isaiah chapters 57 and 58, God through the prophet Isaiah condemned the southern kingdom of Judah for their sins.  In Isaiah 57:7-9, the Lord accused Judah of turning from Him and giving their love to idols, particularly Molech, the Ammonite god whose worship included child sacrifice.  The Lord said that this was equal to committing adultery, because they were breaking their exclusive commitment to Him.  Then the Lord declared that He would expose their righteousness and works for what they really were---mere pretentions of doing good (see Isaiah 57:12).  Isaiah warned the people that their righteousness and works would not save them from pending destruction, any more than their weak, worthless idols (see Isaiah 57:13).  In Isaiah 57:14-21, the prophet tells how God will deal with those who are humble and repentant or contrite, as well as those who are wicked.  In chapter 58:1-12, Isaiah declares that what they called worship was really not worship.  True worship was more than religious ritual, going to the temple every day, fasting, and listening to Scripture readings (see Isaiah 58:1-5).  God’s people missed the point of a living vital relationship with God.  He doesn’t want us acting pious when we have unforgiven sin in our hearts and performing sinful practices with our hands.  More important than correct worship and doctrine is genuine compassion for the poor, the helpless, and the oppressed (see Isaiah 58-6-12).  Note:  Isaiah was trying to get the people to understand, and we need to know this as well, that we can’t gain our salvation through good deeds because our best deeds are not good enough to outweigh our sins.  Salvation is a gift from God received only through faith in Christ, not good deeds (see Ephesians 2:8-9).  Our faith lacks sincerity if it doesn’t reach out to others.  Fasting can be beneficial spiritually and physically, but at its best, fasting helps only the person doing it.  God wants our service to Him to go beyond our own personal growth to include acts of kindness, charity, justice, and generosity.  True fasting is more than what we don’t eat, it’s pleasing God by applying His Word to our society.  In Isaiah 59:13-14, God tells His people how they should honor the Sabbath Day not only because it was a commandment, but because it was best for them and it honored God.  This is also true for believers today.  We should set aside a day of rest to refresh ourselves both physically and spiritually while we worship together and reflect on God without the stress of our everyday activities.  The Israelites needed to remember that God Himself rested on the seventh day (see Genesis 2:3).  Then in Isaiah chapter 59 from which our lesson text comes, in verses 1-2, Isaiah calls on Judah to pay attention to what he was about to say.  He went on to tell them that the Lord isn’t too weak to save them.  He isn’t getting deaf, and He can hear them when they call.  Then Isaiah told them once again why judgment would fall upon them.  The trouble was that their sins had cut them off from God.  Therefore, He had turned his face away from them and will not listen anymore.   Then in verses 3-14, Isaiah continued to give a long list of their transgressions against God.  The amazing thing was that the people admitted that they had sinned against God, but still continued in their sin.  This is where our lesson begins. 

 

 

 

 

III. WHAT THE PEOPLE NEEDED (Isaiah 59:15-17)

 

A. A displeased Lord (Isaiah 59:15).  After listing many of the sins the people had committed, in this verse, Isaiah continued to say “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.”  In verse 13 Isaiah told the people that they were guilty of “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.”  This caused the prophet to declare in this verse “Yea, truth faileth.”  In other words, “truth” was totally missing in Judah.  Note:  Too often today, people find it easy to lie to one another, considering it as acceptable and commonplace.  However, if we truly believe in Christ we would realize that lying is sin (see Leviticus 19:11; Proverbs 14:5; John 8:44; Acts 5:3-5; Colossians 3:9-10; James 3:14; I John 1:6; 2:21) even what we call “little white lies.”  Lies are lies and they all displease God.  As a result of there being no “truth” in the land, Isaiah said that anyone who “departeth from evil maketh himself a prey.”  This means that anyone who refused to go along with the lying, evil ways of the people, would find themselves being “a prey” or attacked by those doing evil.  Isaiah stated that “the Lord saw it, and it displeased him that there was no judgment.”  In other words, the Lord saw all the evil and was displeased that He could find “no judgment” or justice.  Sadly, no steps had been taken against sin.

 

 

 

B. A saving Lord (Isaiah 59:16).  In this verse, Isaiah continued to say about God that “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.”  Judah’s rebellion against God, resulted in the lack of justice, righteousness, trust and honesty (see Isaiah 59:14).  The Lord looked at His people’s situation and “saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor.”  In other words, God saw no one who was willing to stand for the truth, and also act as an “intercessor” meaning one who intervenes on behalf of another.  The Lord “wondered” or was devastated that He found no one to intervene for His people.  This doesn’t mean that God was not already aware of this, but that He was completely stunned at the situation.  Since the Lord couldn’t find anyone to help His people, Isaiah declared “therefore his arm brought salvation unto him; and his righteousness, it sustained him.”  In reality, no human being could help Judah in her sinful condition.  Only God Himself could provide a solution for His people.  He would do this by providing salvation Himself.  The phrase “his arm brought salvation unto him” means that God by His own power would bring “salvation” or deliverance from sin to Judah.  The word “him” refers to God’s people.  The last part of this verse “and his righteousness, it sustained him” means that God’s own righteousness, or His desire to do what is right “sustained” or upheld Him in coming to the aid of His people.  What the Lord wanted was the restoration of the relationship between Him and His people.  No human was available or even capable of doing this, so God would have to do it Himself.

 

 

 

C. A righteous Lord (Isaiah 59:17).  Still referring to God, Isaiah says in this verse “For he put on righteousness as a breastplate, and an helmet of salvation upon his head; and he put on the garments of vengeance for clothing, and was clad with zeal as a cloak.”  Isaiah pictures the Lord as a warrior who puts on His armor and battle clothes to provide salvation for Israel and execute vengeance on His enemies.  Of course, God is already righteous so He doesn’t have to put on “righteousnes.”  But Isaiah used the human description “put on” for better understanding.  This is what is called an “anthropomorphism” which means to use human terms to describe something or someone divine.  God is said to have “put on” several pieces of clothing similar to what a soldier would wear when going into battle.  Like a soldier, Isaiah described God as first putting on “righteousness as a breastplate.”  The “breastplate” covered a soldier’s body.  Here, God’s breastplate is a covering of “righteousness.”   Second, Isaiah said the Lord also put on “an helmet of salvation upon his head.”  Of course, the “helmet” was used by a soldier to protect his head.  When used by the Apostle Paul, the “helmet of salvation” protects the believer’s mind from evil thoughts.  But when used of God, it refers to His saving power.  The phrase “and he put on the garments of vengeance for clothing, and was clad with zeal as a cloak” pictures God as wreaking “vengeance” or revenge on the enemies of His people with great “zeal” or eagerness.  God not only has a deep and intense concern for His people, but He is also passionately determined to destroy their enemies.  All of this will eventually occur at the battle of Armageddon just prior to the establishment of the Lord’s glorious kingdom (see Revelation 19:11-21; Zechariah 14:1-9; Matthew 25:31-46).  Again, saying that God “put on the garments of vengeance for clothing” is an anthropomorphism, where Isaiah uses human terms to describe God as wearing these clothes of war.

 

 

 

 

IV. WHAT GOD DOES (Isaiah 59:18-19)

 

A.  God will repay Israel’s enemies fully (Isaiah 59:18).  The prophet continues to say in this verse “According to their deeds, accordingly he will repay, fury to his adversaries, recompence to his enemies; to the islands he will repay recompence.”  The phrase “According to their deeds, accordingly he will repay, fury to his adversaries, recompence to his enemies” means that God will deal with Israel’s enemies according to how they have dealt with Israel.  In His “fury” or anger, God will “repay” Israel’s “adversaries” and “recompence” their “enemies” for how they have treated them (see Matthew 25:31-46).  The words “repay” and “recompence” both mean that God will pay back Israel’s enemies in kind for what they have done or their “deeds.”  The terms “adversaries,” “enemies,” and “the islands” all refer to the Gentile nations who have opposed Israel.  A simpler translation of this verse is “He will repay his enemies for their evil deeds—fury for his foes in distant lands” (The Living Bible Translation).  Note:  It’s interesting that unsaved persons are so sure that they are not going to reap the consequences of their sins from God.  But the Psalmist tells us why they feel this way: “The wicked in his pride doth persecute the poor: let them be taken in the devices that they have imagined.  He hath said in his heart, God hath forgotten: he hideth his face; he will never see it.”  But our text tells us that “According to their deeds, accordingly he (God) will repay.”  The wicked may not believe it, but God sees and takes note of each evil deed, and will repay them for those deeds.

 

 

 

B. God will defend Israel mightily (Isaiah 59:19).  Still referring to Israel’s enemies whom God will deal with, in this verse Isaiah said “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.”  The word “they” here refers to the enemies of God and His people.  When God finally deals with the wicked from all nations, they will “fear the name of the Lord from the west, and his glory from the rising of the sun.”  In other words, when God deals with His enemies, these people will come from the west to the east and will reverence the Lord and respect his glory.  Isaiah went on to say “When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him.” Even though God’s enemies may appear to be coming to battle “like a flood,” the Holy Spirit will raise “a standard against him (God’s enemies).”  The word “standard” refers to a symbol carried on a pole and raised high in the air, much like a flag, to rally a tribe or a group of warriors to battle.  In this case, it refers to the sign God will reveal by His Spirit to His army as He prepares to war against His enemies.  Note:  As mentioned earlier, God’s dealings with all nations who oppose Him and His people will take place at the second coming of Jesus.  At that time, all the armies of the world will have gathered together against Jerusalem for the battle of Armageddon when Christ comes with all the armies of heaven (see Zechariah 14:1-7; Revelation 16:12-16).  At that time, the antichrist and the false prophet will be defeated and thrown into the lake of fire (see Revelation 19:17-20), and Satan will be bound for a thousand years (see Revelation 20:1-3).  Then the Jews and unbelieving Gentiles will be judged to determine who will enter the millennial kingdom and who will be sent away to eternal punishment.  Jews will be judged for their rejection or acceptance of Jesus, and Gentiles will be judged regarding their relationship with Jesus and their treatment of Israel (see Joel 3:1-3; Matthew 25:31-46).  The result of all of this will be according to Isaiah 59:19a: “So shall they fear the name of the Lord from the west, and his glory from the rising of the sun.”  The vengeance of the Lord is coming and it’s just a matter of time before He intervenes in the world’s affairs and takes charge.

 

 

 

 

V. WHO GOD IS (Isaiah 59:20-21)

 

A. God is the Redeemer (Isaiah 59:20).  In this verse, Isaiah turns back to speaking of the Lord saying “And the Redeemer shall come to Zion, and unto them that turn from transgression in Jacob, saith the Lord.”  After the Lord judges Israel and the Gentile nations, Jesus, the Messiah, who is also “the Redeemer shall come to Zion.”  He will “come to Zion” or Jerusalem as the “Redeemer” or the “one who buys back” His people from the bondage of sin.  However, at this time, He will only be the “Redeemer” for those Jews who “turn from transgression in Jacob (or Israel), saith the Lord.”  The unbelieving Jews will have already been judged and taken away to everlasting damnation.  This turning or conversion will be like what Paul wrote about in I Thessalonians 1:9-10: “For they themselves shew of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God; And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.”  Note:  Today we see few Jewish people believing in Jesus as their Messiah.  But God has a plan that will change their hearts.  Isaiah 59:20 reveals the beginning of Christ’s reign over the earth, called the millennium (see Revelation 20:4-5).  During that time, Jesus Christ will be the King (see Psalms 2:6-9; Revelation 19:15-16), and the earth will finally enjoy peace, equity, justice, and prosperity (see Isaiah chapters 11, 25, 26, 27, 35; Zechariah 14:8-21), and His throne will be in the city of Jerusalem (see Isaiah 2:2-4).  

 

 

 

B. God is the covenant keeper (Isaiah 59:21).  In our final verse, God speaks through Isaiah saying “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.”  After God saves His people and they turn to Him, He will fulfill His promise that He here calls “my covenant with them.”  A “covenant” is a promise, but is also an agreement between two or more people and can be either conditional or unconditional.  God said that this was His covenant, or promise indicating that it was unconditional, meaning only God is responsible for keeping it.  In other words, in a conditional covenant God says “I will…, if you will…”  In an unconditional covenant God says simply “I will…”  The keeping of the covenant is dependent upon Him alone.  Many scholars believe that God was referring to the new covenant explained in Jeremiah 31:31-34 and confirmed in Hebrews 8:7-11 and this is probably true.  God’s covenant or promise to His saved people would be fulfilled when, as He declared “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.”  When believing Jews enter the kingdom reign of Christ, God promises that His Spirit will be upon them and He will put His words in their mouths, as well as the mouths of their “seed” and their “seed’s seed” meaning every generation thereafter.  God also declared that His word will never depart out of their mouths.  Of course, when God says “my words which I have put in thy mouth” most likely refers to God’s law of the new covenant that He said He would put in their minds and write in their hearts (see Hebrews 8:7-11).  This way His people will never forget His laws.

   

 

 

                                    

VI. Conclusion 

As we are all aware of, this world like ancient Israel is full of injustices and wickedness.  However, God has provided a remedy---His Redeemer.  We can rest assured that just as the Lord Jesus came once about two thousand years ago to work our salvation on the cross, so too, He will return for us just as He promised.  For sure, He will correct all the frustrating injustices we see.

 

 

PRACTICAL POINTS:

 

 

1.  When we decide to stand for truth, we can expect to be looked upon unkindly by the world (Isaiah 59:15).

 

2.  Through Christ, God does for us what we cannot do for ourselves (Isaiah 59:16).

 

3.  God’s character and power guarantee that His promises will be fulfilled (Isaiah 59:17)

   

4.  God’s justice demands that He repay those who make themselves His enemies (Isaiah 59:18).

 

5.  The wicked have reason to fear God, but those who are godly can rejoice even in His judgment (Isaiah 59:19-20).

 

6.  As redeemed people, we must continually testify of the Lord’s salvation (Isaiah 59:21).

 

 

 

God’s Words Will Remain Forever

Isaiah 59:15-21

Sunday, August 2, 2015

 

 “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” (Isaiah 59:21—KJV).

 

“‘As for me, this is my covenant with them,’ says the LORD.

‘My Spirit, who is on you, will not depart from you, and my words

that I have put in your mouth will always be on your lips, on the lips of your children and on the lips of their descendants—from this time on and forever,’ says the LORD” (Isaiah 59:21—NIV).

 

When God looked upon the earth, Isaiah said God was appalled that no one intervened in behalf of those who had turned from practicing evil to obeying the truth; instead, honest believers became the victims of evil people who gave them no justice when they appealed for help. Therefore, Isaiah foretold that God would send the

Redeemer to Jerusalem in order to save those who repented of their

sins (Isaiah 59:20). When Jesus came as the Messiah, He fulfilled

Isaiah’s prophecy. Jesus made a new covenant with His own blood—

not the blood of sheep or goats. He brought salvation to all who

repented and entrusted their lives to Him as Lord and Savior. He

filled His apostles with the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost, and on that Day, when the crowd understood that they had been

responsible for the death of God’s Messiah so that they asked what

they could do, Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of

you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38). About three thousand people obeyed Peter’s message and were baptized and received the Holy Spirit that very Day. Since then, the words of Jesus have been recorded in the Scriptures and His teachings have been passed down from generation to generation.

 

 

God’s Words Will Remain Forever

Isaiah 59:15-21

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Thinking Further

Name___________________________

 

1. What did God see when He looked upon the people living in

Judah and Jerusalem?

 

 

2. What sustained or upheld God when He considered the situation in the Promised Land?

 

 

3. What two pieces of armor did God put on in order to help His

true followers?

 

 

4. What did God say He would do to those who practiced evil?

 

 

5. Who did God say He would send, to whom would He send

Him, what would He do, and what would be the results of His

coming?

 

 

 

 

 

Questions for Discussion and Thinking Further

Isaiah 59:15-21

Sunday August 2, 2015

 

1. What did God see when He looked upon the people living in Judah and Jerusalem?

God was appalled to see truth was lacking or nowhere to be found. He saw injustice, and those who had turned from evil had become the victims of those who did evil. There was no one intervening in behalf of His people to help them. Leadership was corrupt.

 

2. What sustained or upheld God when He considered the situation in the Promised Land?

The fact that God always acted in righteousness, or always said and did what was right, sustained or upheld Him in the face of all the evil He saw. God had given them His law to guide them, but the leaders and people had come to disregard His law; they preferred

doing evil and afflicting those who did good. God knew that to resolve this situation He would act in righteousness to achieve salvation for His people and to repay their enemies with retribution.

3. What two pieces of armor did God put on in order to help His true followers?

God put on the breastplate of righteousness and the helmet of salvation.

 

4. What did God say He would do to those who practiced evil?

He would repay them according to what they had done. They would reap what they had sown. Those who practiced evil were His enemies and the enemies of His people and He would bring them under judgment and punishment, which He did after sending many prophets to warn them (prophets they rejected along with their words).

 

5. Who did God say He would send, to whom would He send Him, what

would He do, and what would be the results of His coming?

God promised to send the Redeemer, to those who repent of their sins, to make a new covenant and put His Spirit upon (within) them, to give them His words, which would not depart from them from generation to generation forever. 

 

 

 

 

Word Search

Isaiah 59:15-21

August 2, 2015

Our Redeemer Comes

              Name ___________________________                              

 

 

B F G F Z H Q R P J Y D U S W

H R O A N D E L L A P P A S P

S C E M Q D X O R G U Y J E A

Y E X A E T I Y S E I M E N E

E W I E S H E L M E T L T S T

A C M R Q T M W E D A P N U N

P E N Z A F P C J T B C V O A

R Y R A H S I L I D T O T E N

Z L A V E T R U A I B N C T E

I E G P S G Q E R T E G Y H V

T K W U E E N I V P E X P G O

X R J F R R P E E D F G U I C

C N U P H S C R V I A C Y R A

A E R T A I S A L V A T I O N

O L B Z H P N X C B P B J E S

Truth

Justice

Appalled

Righteousness

Salvation

Breastplate

Helmet

Requital

Vengeance

Enemies

Adversaries

Repent

Redeemer

Spirit

Repay

Covenant

 

 

 

True and False Test

Isaiah 59:15-21

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Our Redeemer Comes

Name ____________________

 

 

Circle the true or false answers. Correct the false statements by restating them.

 

1. In the days of Isaiah, those who repented and obeyed the truth found success. True or False

 

2. Those who did evil also acted unjustly. True or False

 

3. Isaiah thanked God that so many leaders stood up to defend the rights of those who did right, but suffered injustice. True or False

 

4. Isaiah said God would intervene to help those who turned from evil. True or False

 

5. God would overcome evil with righteousness and bring salvation. True or False

 

6. God does not really care how people act toward one another. True or False

 

7. God will never punish those who practice evil. True or False

 

8. Isaiah said God would come into the world as a cool refreshing stream and bring security and serenity to everyone. True or False

 

9. Isaiah said that the Redeemer will come to those who repent of their sins. True or False

 

10. The Lord gives His Spirit and His words to those repent of their sins and accept the Redeemer and His new covenant. True or False

 

 

 

Answers to the True and False Test

Isaiah 59:15-21

Sunday, August 2, 2015

 

 

1.  False

2.  True

3.  False

4.  True

5.  True

6.  False

7.  False

8.  False

9.  True

10. True

 

 

Closing Prayer

Almighty God, we ask that you empower us to be people of justice even as we extend mercy as you have been merciful to us. In the name of Jesus, our just and merciful king, amen!