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Isaiah 59

Sin, Confession and Redemption (59:1–21)

The LORD looked . . . (verse 15). He saw that there was no one—that is, no one to help, no one to intervene (verse 16). And so He intervenes Himself. Wearing the breastplate of righteousness and the helmet of salvation (verse 17)—armor we too can now wear (Ephesians 6:14,17)—He comes as the divine Judge to repay His enemies (Romans 12:19) according to what they have done (verse 18). He will also “repay” the enemies among His own people; only the remnant of Israel will be blessed. The Lord will come like a pent-up flood; no one will be able to escape His judgment (verse 19). And people from the entire world—from the west to the rising of the sun—will fear the name of the Lord, that is, the Lord Himself.

20–21 These verses bring the chapter to a glorious climax: Isaiah has moved from his people’s sins to their confession of sin, then to God’s judgment on evildoers, and here finally to God’s redemption of His repentant people—the remnant of Israel. God comes to Zion (His people) not only as Judge but also as Redeemer (see Isaiah 41:14). He comes to those who repent of their sins; He comes not with anger but with grace—with fatherly love and mercy.

The Redeemer will come to Zion (verse 20). This promise is not just for the exiled Jews but also for us today who put our faith in the Redeemer, Jesus Christ. Indeed, even now this promise is being fulfilled by Christ, as He brings the faithful and repentant into Zion, His church.

In verse 21, the Lord renews His covenant with His people, with us. But this is not the “old covenant” of the past but a new covenant of the future216 (Jeremiah 31:31–34; Hebrews 8:8–13). Under the old covenant the people were told to obey, but they could not; under the new covenant, the people will have the Holy Spirit who will help them obey (see John 14:15–17). Here God gives His people two great covenant gifts, His Spirit and His words, and they will not depart from His people.217 These two gifts are given to us today—through Jesus Christ, God’s greatest gift of all.

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