As part of my devotions this week, I read Isaiah 59. Although I have read individual verses of this chapter before, today’s reading struck a “spiritual nerve”. Its reading has provided a framework for a new mini-series entitled, In and Out of Season: A Call to Return. This week’s WordBytes is entitled, A Return to Repentance.
STOP NOW AND READ ISAIAH 59 BEFORE CONTINUING WITH
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS?
PLEASE LEAVE YOUR COMMENTS AT THE END.
Isaiah 59 was not written for people who had no knowledge of God—who we call “the unsaved”, but it was penned for those whom God had entered into a special covenant relationship with. Israel had been hand-chosen by God from all the nations in the world (Deut. 7:7-9) to carry out His purpose and plan of salvation. They were to be a “holy nation, a peculiar people that would show forth His praises” (1 Pet. 2:9).
Unfortunately, instead of heralding God’s praises, Israel went a “whoring” after other gods (Jer. 3:2; Ezek. 43:7), relying on itself and other nations. The result was punishment—70 years captivity in Assyria and Babylon—away from the land God had promised and given to them.
In reading Isaiah 59, I see an unsettling similarity between the events leading up to Israel’s exile and where we find ourselves today—as a nation and yes, as the Church.
As a nation, we have walked away from the spiritual guidance and direction of God. If you survey our social institutions and political systems, you will see remnants of what we once knew as “one nation under God”. We have exchanged our “moral compass” for “individual rights”.
The lines of “right and wrong” are no longer determined by God’s holy standards but have been replaced by political affiliations and social relationships. Man has placed himself on the throne of his heart—doing “what is right in his own eyes” (Judges 17:6). Servility and kindness, community and brotherly love have all been sacrificed on the altar of man’s selfishness.
As the Church, we have retreated into the safety of our church walls. Internally focused, we are more concerned with our personal needs and how we can achieve “our purpose to be all we can be”. We have forgotten about the helpless, the homeless, and the hungry. Jesus went outside the walls to serve mankind versus being served (Matt. 20:28). Jesus came “to preach, to bind, to proclaim, and to open” (Is. 61.1). Can we as the Church do any less?
Hopefully, one of the key outcomes from reading Isaiah 59 is that we will begin to recognize and repent from those “iniquities that have separated us from God” (verse 2). God wants to be reunited with this nation and His Church. That’s why Jesus Christ came that our sins—personally and corporately, might be forgiven AND our relationship with the Father restored (2 Cor. 5:18-19).
The Redeemer (Jesus Christ) “did come to Zion” (verse 20) and to the rest of the world—that we might turn from our transgressions. Let us pray continuously that we as a nation and the Church will repent of those behaviors and attitudes that cause us to transgress against God.