Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Isaiah 59

I am always thrilled when I read Isaiah 59. It does not begin like the kind of prophetic utterance that makes its way to a Christian kitsch coffee mug or wall plaque, but in it resides what may be the greatest pair of truths there are.

My brother used to work at Focus on the Family as a supervisor and he once asked me to come and do a devotional for his group. This is the passage I selected. This is probably why his group did not ask me back. (John would have had me back, but his teammates would have reported me to the “that’s-not-insipid-enough-for-our-devotional-time” police.)

1Behold, the LORD's hand is not shortened, that it cannot save,
or his ear dull, that it cannot hear;
2but 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.
3For your hands are defiled with blood
and your fingers with iniquity;
your lips have spoken lies;
your tongue mutters wickedness.

The vast majority of the chapter goes on like this listing our inherent and inevitable sinfulness. The point being that I have offended the holiness of God and torn an impassable cavern between Him and me. There is no getting around the blood on my hands and the iniquity (I love this Hebrew word = “twisted”) in the works of my hands.

But that is only half of the story. God not only hates sin and injustice, He is pained by it; it actually hurts God to behold it all.

15The LORD saw it, and it displeased him that there was no justice.
16He saw that there was no man,
and wondered that there was no one to intercede;
then his own arm brought him salvation,
and his righteousness upheld him.

The language shifts so subtly that you almost miss it-God takes it upon Himself to fix something which disturbs Him. God choose to initiate-He was moved by our plight and our sin. How incredible! It is not just that we need to turn to God from our own sinfulness-the crux is that it is only possible because “his own arm brought him salvation.”

I find it amazing that God could behold the entirety of this broken and sinful mess and be moved to compassion.

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