Only God can break the chains that hold us back!
It is only through God reaching down to us that we have received salvation through Christ.
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS (Isaiah 59:1-20)
1. What is the most hopeful season of life you have experienced? What was happening?
2. Did you lose that hope? Why or why not?
3. How do you usually react to difficult circumstances? Why?
Isaiah 59 looks at the state of Judah and how the people struggled to trust and hope in the Lord. Isaiah spoke to them about their sins, transgressions, and iniquities which kept them from seeing God as the one who could redeem them.
4. What symbolic human language did Isaiah use to describe God? What do you think this language conveys?
5. How can the character of God that Isaiah expresses in these verses impact your life?
6. From verses 10-13 How does physical language in these verses describe the spiritual state of man? Which phrase resonated the most with you and why?
7. What would our hope look like without the work of God?
8. What do you think are the different challenges we face in recognizing Jesus as our hope compared to the challenges of Isaiah’s time?
9. How did Jesus fulfill the Old Testament promises of Isaiah 59?
God has the right and the will to judge sins and transgressions. However, the hope that all believers in every age have is found in Christ, who is the fulfillment of this prophecy. Jesus came as avenger and redeemer to buy back humans despite their sins, taking on sin and death for us that we may receive salvation and righteousness.
What are the sins that most often reign in your life that keep you from hoping and trusting in God? How can this passage help you this week?
What are some practical things that you can do during this season of life to focus on Christ as your hope?
Is there someone on your heart right now that needs to know the hope Christ gives? How can you create the opportunity to share it with them this week?
59:1. This oracle begins with an affirmation that God can hear and act, characteristics that contrast with the powerless idols that tempted Israel (44:6-23).
59:3-4. A selection of the sins that separated God from His people is listed. The list begins with acts of violence and moves on to deceit and injustice. They were guilty in thought and action (they conceive trouble and give birth to iniquity).
59:5-6. These sinners produced viper’s eggs. Eggs promise life, but these eggs produced death. Thus, the works of God’s people may look promising, but they kill. In a similar vein, God’s people produce spider’s webs. They may look beautiful in their intricacy, but they have no practical value.
59:7. Again (v. 4), the oracle emphasizes that the people are sinful in thought and deed. Indeed, they do not merely walk in “the advice of the wicked” (Ps 1:1), they show their eagerness when they run after evil.
59:8. Isaiah used the words “paths” and “roads” to refer to the course of a person’s life. Proverbs 1-9 talks about two paths, a straight path that leads to God and life, and a crooked path that leads to death. Isaiah described God’s people as choosing the latter and thus they were headed toward death (they will not know peace).
59:10. Chapter 58 has already described the way to light in obedience to God, but they appear incapable of getting there on their own.
59:11. Bears growl out of anger, and doves make a sound like the groans to a suffering person. These metaphors suggest that God’s people were angry and sad about their present state.
59:12-15a. The people had no one but themselves to blame for their lamentable situation, and they knew it. They had sinned against God by perverting justice in their society (in the public square).
59:15b-21. The chapter concludes with a description of God’s reaction to the sin and helplessness of His people. He will intercede and rescue His people in spite of their sin and helplessness.
59:15b-16. The section begins with a statement of God’s recognition of human injustice and the offense that He takes at it. It also goes on to describe His amazement that no human was interceding on behalf of the people. Perhaps the intercession of Moses (Ex 33) or the other prophets is what is in mind here. In any case, God proclaims that in the absence of such a human intercessor, He Himself will step into the gap between His people and Himself. Indeed, God’s hand is not “too short” (Isa 59:1). His arm reaches out to save His people.
59:17. To save His people, God assumed the guise of a warrior. However, His armor and His weapons are not physical but spiritual. The description of God’s armor and weapons remind believers of Paul’s description of the spiritual weapons available to Christians as they wage battle against “the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens” (Eph 6:12).
59:18-19. God’s enemies do not get off without punishment. The mention of the coast lands indicates that the far-flung nations, indeed the whole world (west and east), are in mind here. The whole world will fear the name of Yahweh after His work of retribution.
59:20-21. The climax of this oracle announces the future arrival of God the Redeemer at Zion, God’s holy mountain in Jerusalem. He had abandoned Zion in anticipation of its destruction at the Babylonian captivity (Ezek 11-19), but His war against sin will result in His return. It is specifically to the repentant that He will come. He will reestablish His covenant with them. God’s Spirit will be given to His people to cleanse their mouths (reminiscent of Isaiah’s cleansing at his prophetic commission; chap. 6) so they will proclaim the glory of God to future generations.