Isaiah 59 Commentary

Society incapable of reform (59:1-21)

Ungodly society is heading for destruction. The reason for this is not that God is powerless to save people, but that people’s sins have cut them off from God, the only one who can save them. They have filled the land with violence, lies and treachery (59:1-3).

Because of the corruption of the courts, there is no justice in society (4). Wickedness multiplies as evil people spread their poison and trap the innocent in their plots. They try to cover their sin with a show of respectability, but they are not successful (5-6). Because their thoughts are evil, their actions also are evil. Always devious, they are a constant source of trouble to others. They know nothing of such basic virtues as kindness, honesty and justice (7-8).

The prophet then joins with the people in confessing their sin. They would like to see an end to oppression and injustice, but they hope in vain. They live in a society of moral darkness that they themselves have created (9-11). They have turned away from following God and have developed a way of life where honesty and truth are ignored (12-13). Injustice and corruption are everywhere, from the highest law courts down to the market places of the common people. The person who tries to be honest suffers persecution from those who find it more convenient to cooperate with the corrupt system. God sees all this and it displeases him (14-15).

God sees that the human race cannot reform itself. What is needed is the intervention of God. In purity and justice he acts against the sinners, with the result that people worldwide acknowledge his lordship (16-19). Those who repent of their sins enter a new relationship with him. They become his true people and enjoy the spiritual blessings of his covenant with them (20-21).

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