Justice, Judgment & Mercy – Part 2
A Study Of Isaiah 59-61
“They hatch adders’ eggs and weave the spider’s web; he who eats of their eggs dies, and from that which is crushed a snake breaks forth. Their webs will not become clothing, nor will they cover themselves with their works; their works are works of iniquity, and an act of violence is in their hands. Their feet run to evil, and they hasten to shed innocent blood; their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity; devastation and destruction are in their highways. They do not know the way of peace, and there is no justice in their tracks; they have made their paths crooked; whoever treads on them does not know peace.
Therefore, justice is far from us, and righteousness does not overtake us; we hope for light, but behold, darkness; for brightness, but we walk in gloom. We grope along the wall like blind men, we grope like those who have no eyes; we stumble at midday as in the twilight, among those who are vigorous we are like dead men. All of us growl like bears, and moan sadly like doves; we hope for justice, but there is none, for salvation, but it is far from us. For our transgressions are multiplied before Thee, and our sins testify against us; for our transgressions are with us, and we know our iniquities: transgressing and denying the Lord, and turning away from our God, speaking oppression and revolt, conceiving in and uttering from the heart lying words. And justice is turned back, and righteousness stands far away; for truth has stumbled in the street, and uprightness cannot enter.” Isaiah 59:5-14
This passage in metaphoric detail and vivid imagery describes how degenerated the people had become. Their basest human natures had led them to violence and destruction at such a dimension that everything they touched was defiled and they themselves had become cursed with decay and degradation. What they sought for themselves, even of the basic necessities of life, clothing and food, the land would not yield to them. Their hearts had become so hardened because of their sin that the ground only produced death all around them.
They did not know what peace was like. They had no conscious awareness of what peace looked like and justice was nowhere to be found among them.
Despite all this they were eager to do evil. They ran to it, ever hungry for more.
Then the prophet abruptly changes the subject from second person plural “they” to first person plural “us.”
“Justice is far from us.”
It’s as though he is drawing a line between the cause on the one hand, those committing the acts of violence, and on the other, the effect their actions are having on the whole nation, including those who are not in league with them. All were groping in the dark like blind men, all growl like bears and mourn like doves, none are strong and none are courageous They had all become a pitiful mass of “snowflakes,” withering in the gentlest breeze. They hope for justice and salvation because intrinsic in every heart is a sense of times when things are not as they should be and they want the pain to stop and things to get right.
Their final awareness is the true reason for all their problems. They have been, “transgressing and denying the Lord, and turning away from our God, speaking oppression and revolt, conceiving in and uttering from the heart lying words…” They had no doubt legislated, legalized and upheld their sin as lawful and good in direct rebellion against God’s laws. They had called the lie truth and forsaken the truth for the lie. They had become legal murderers, legal fornicators, legal liars and thieves, justifying the degeneracy of their behavior in their own eyes.
So, “…justice is turned back, and righteousness stands far away; for truth has stumbled in the street, and uprightness cannot enter…”
We stand in the place of the same kinds of fallen human behavior today. What was said of Israel in the days of Isaiah could be said today of people and nations all over the world and sadly in staggering measures here in our own country.
But there is hope, there is a promise that has come to make all things right again and His name is Jesus Christ the Anointed King of kings and Lord of lords.
More on this tomorrow…