Recent Posts
Lowell Brueckner

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

Salvation… God’s Sovereign Work


54. An expository study of Isaiah, chapter 59

Where can we turn, outside of the Word of God, to understand the vital issues of mankind? The Bible clearly depicts the doctrine of man, which is so important for us to know and understand. Then we can recognize our individual place among the human race and diagnose our problem. From that point, we go on to find the remedy.

The blame lies with mankind

Never allow yourself to put the blame upon God. That is never the case and there is no remedy for those, who choose to go in that direction. It will surely end in their ruin. When there is a problem between God and man, the fault always lies with man. “Behold”… look carefully, learn and understand… “the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, or his ear dull, that it cannot hear” (v.1). The problem does not lie with God. He does not change and He does not weaken in any case for even a moment. We must determine and settle this question before we can progress in any direction.

Next, we learn to put our confidence in Him. The extent of His reach and His power to save is immeasurable. It reaches everywhere to everyone and the potential to help is unlimited. His sense of hearing picks up the weakest decibel of a cry directed towards Him. There is no faculty in His total make-up that is less than infinite.  

The sin of man is the only reason that there is a distance of separation between him and divine help: “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” (v.2). The Word of God brings before us the doctrine of sin, so that we can learn and fear it as an obstacle that keeps us from experiencing aid from above.

Sin has entered into human history and has brought disastrous consequences. It has caused entire depravation of all man’s faculties. His fingers perform evil acts and go so far as to stain his hands with murderous blood. His mouth is an instrument of wickedness; his lips and his tongue form deceitful, malicious words (v.3). 

All his institutions are corrupt. Justice is feigned in his courts and its members lack the honesty necessary to make righteousness prevail in society. The aim of the prosecution and the defense is to win, at the cost of truth. “No one enters suit justly; no one goes to law honestly; they rely on empty pleas, they speak lies, they conceive mischief and give birth to iniquity” (v.4). How true it is!

Man is eager to sin

We can appreciate the fact that God’s word is adorned with literary excellence to help provide an impact. It gives us a wealth of metaphors, symbolism and, of course, parables. Notice verse 5: “They hatch adder’s eggs; they weave the spider’s web; he who eats their eggs dies, and from one that is crushed a viper is hatched.” It means that instead of crushing evil, the people had reached a high level of depravity and were encouraging its production. Their designs were deceptive and verse 6 shows that they were weak in practical use and full of purposeful sin, promoting violence.

The next verse shows the eagerness to do sin… “their feet run to evil and they are swift to shed innocent blood”. Twisted minds are not satisfied with their own corruption, but are zealous to teach others. Society tries to cover its inner evil by showing a lovely exterior. In former chapters, I have tried to prove that lust to sin is a reality in modern times. It strikes at the core of civilization, attacking the home, marriage and family. It manifests itself through millions of abortions, by legitimizing perversion and through a high percentage of broken homes.

How accurate are the prophet’s word to our world today! He says, “Desolation and destruction are in their highways.” The 20th Century conceived dangerous inventions that have brought death to tens of thousands through traffic accidents. One statistic that we heard in Germany, was that the average life of a motorcyclist was seven years. To achieve egocentric goals, men use the thoroughfares for a race against time. To dull their sense of reality, they mix alcohol into their journeys; yes, “destruction is in their highways” (v.7).

“The way of peace they do not know”, but war, “no justice in their paths”, but false, destructive counsel, “they have made their roads crooked”, deceptive and unnatural, “no one who treads on them knows peace”, and there is no potential for good to anyone (v.8). How can we expect to find any good from the ways of the world? God’s word is warning us and Solomon summed it up: “All is vanity”, yet Christians are deceived by it and widely use its promotion, its public relations, and make its mentality their own.

“Justice is far from us, and righteousness does not overtake us; we hope for light, and behold, darkness, and for brightness, but we walk in gloom” (v.9). The most shocking and saddening fact of all that is being constructed in this prophecy is that it is written to a nation, who claims God as their own. Because this is true, there is no example for the rest of the world.

Apply this to the church today

Today, the church is the last hope on earth and to the degree that it adapts to the ways of the world, to that degree it loses its earthly purpose. Jesus taught His disciples, “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet” (Mt.5:13, also Mk.9:50, Lk.14:34). We must not seek to be like the people of the world, but different. We must not borrow from its ways and methods, but contribute the benefits of heaven to it. We must not follow, but lead. We must not be influenced, but influence.

I am fully conscious, as I write, that I am hemmed in by the Word of the Lord. I cannot stray from it; I cannot be positive, where it is negative. When one gives an expository Bible study, he becomes truly aware of divine warnings and the negative consequences that result from ignoring them. I notice it as I expound on the Gospel of John. A good deal of the good news of the gospel is to warn against the bad news that happens to those who disobey it or take it lightly. A rejection of evil comes before an acceptance of good.

The gospel declares that we are the light of the world (Mt.5:14) and Paul maintains that we are children of light, awake to what is happening before the rapture of the church: “You are not in darkness, brothers, for that day to surprise you like a thief. For you are all children of light, children of the day” (1 Th.5:4-5). Yet Isaiah confesses, “We grope for the wall like the blind; we grope like those who have no eyes; we stumble at noon as in the twilight, among those in full vigor we are like dead men” (v.10).

To what do we owe this incongruity? As in Israel, the church has known times of coldness and a lack of reality. It holds the form, but denies the power of the gospel. It depends on the abilities and wisdom of men, instead of the gifts and strength of the Almighty. It functions by the schemes and means of the world around it, enamored by its toys and tools, rather on the supernatural ways of heaven. In the past, it was in times like this that a minority called upon God for revival. Never has there been a time in its history, when the church needed it like it does today.

We grope, we growl and we moan; the complaints are due to the symptoms of the disease that ravages inside us, yet few seem to be conscious of the sickness itself. We treat symptoms, instead of the cause. True salvation is far less common than we judge it to be. We wonder why there are so many who fall and we rush to treat backsliders. We should be preoccupied that few have truly stood in the first place and have never taken their first step forward (v.11).    

Putting oneself at risk by loving truth

It was common in Isaiah’s day to say the right words, to do homage to Jehovah and to feel the warmness of the emotions of godliness, but those are not the proofs of reality. Here is the ultimate test: “Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning,” said John (1 Jn.3:7,8). One wise man said, “I don’t care how high you jump, as long as you walk straight when you come down.”

The evidence of sin was too common to be denied: “For our transgressions are multiplied before you, and our sins testify against us; for our transgressions are with us, and we know our iniquities” (v.12). Sin was present and the people had more knowledge of iniquity, than of righteousness. Public testimony proclaimed a deficient and defective lifestyle. 

Israel stands accused by the eloquent language of the Holy Spirit. Please notice the verbs in verse 13… denying, turning back from following, speaking oppression and revolt, conceiving and uttering. They deny, as surely as Peter in the High Priest’s porch, though not always so clearly. For Paul tells Titus, “They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work” (Tit.1:16). “Conceiving and uttering from the heart lying words.” It begins in the heart with a spiritual conception that is then taught as doctrine. Jesus cites Isaiah, “In vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men” (Mt.15:7).

This book has much to say about justice, that is, a proper verdict or sentence, in favor of the innocent and against the guilty. It is being reversed and righteousness, simply rightness, is a distant standard, not expected to be upheld. “For truth has stumbled in the public squares…” (v.14). I intend to emphasize this virtue in a day, when it takes second place, at best, to unity, tolerance and love. I maintain that if we lose truth, we lose everything, for without truth, nothing is genuine. When truth is absent, love becomes permissiveness, unity becomes syncretism and tolerance becomes licentiousness.

The argument continues, insisting that a love for truth and uprightness puts a person at risk. “Uprightness cannot enter. Truth is lacking, and he who departs from evil makes himself a prey.” Public sympathy these days is in favor of those who fall morally and the one who exposes the fallen, testifies against the sin committed, or demands discipline, is disdained. He will be called critical, judgmental, or unloving, but his encouragement lies in the fact that the Lord is on his side. “The Lord saw it, and it displeased him that there was no justice” (v.15).

Just as those who stand for righteousness are looked upon as outmoded relics, a disturbance to the goals of the majority, just so is heaven mystified by the lack of individuals who have enough moral fiber to stand before Him as righteous intercessors: “He saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no one to intercede.” In this case, His sovereignty comes to the forefront: “His own arm brought him salvation, and his righteousness upheld him” (v.16). The eternal purposes of God are unstoppable. He upholds Himself and works salvation to His own glory.

Salvation is the work of a sovereign God

The Christian is to be clothed with the armor of God (Eph.6:13-17) and if he is not, although he will suffer personal defeat, the Lord will nevertheless continue to bring glory to His own name. “He put on righteousness as a breastplate, and a helmet of salvation… he put on garments of vengeance… and wrapped himself in zeal” (v.17). The Lord knows no setbacks and His throne is under no threat. It will be God alone, who rises for the remnant of Israel’s salvation. Alone, He endured the cross, without an iota of human cooperation and on Easter Sunday, without one to stand with Him in faith, He arose mightily from the grave, giving testimony to the efficacy of His work.

Although mankind is unwilling or unable to carry out judgment, judgment will be carried out, you can be sure of that. Although modern man neglects or refuses to recognize His wrath, it will surely fall, “wrath to his adversaries, repayment to his enemies”. No part of this planet will be overlooked, even to the distant coastlands (v.18), from east to west.

The earth will be full of the fear and the glory of the Lord. As a rushing stream of living waters, driven by the powerful force of the Holy Spirit, the Redeemer will return to Israel (v.19). “A Redeemer will come to Zion, to those in Jacob who turn from transgression, declares the Lord” (v.20). We notice again that Isaiah presents the Holy One of Israel and Jesus taught us to pray, “hallowed be Your name”. The Lord always works His will in the atmosphere of holiness. Christ returns to those who turn from transgression and establishes His kingdom through the hallowing of His name.

“‘As for me, this is my covenant with them,’ says the Lord: ‘My Spirit that is upon you, and my words that I have put in your mouth, shall not depart out of your mouth, or out of the mouth of your offspring, or out of the mouth of your children’s offspring,’ says the Lord, ‘from this time forth and forevermore’” (v.21).

His Spirit remained upon His people, and His word continued faithful. The word was near them from the time of Moses in the wilderness (Dt.30:14) and it was near to the Gentile according to Paul. In his doctrine, the word of faith is in your mouth and in your heart. “For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him” (Ro.10:12, see from v. 8-13) The New Covenant with Israel will continue, from father to son, to grandson, throughout the millennial generations and on and on in eternity without end. He is the sovereign Lord of Israel’s salvation and ours and we rest solely in His person, His purpose and in His work. We trust in Him alone.


Post a Comment