Summary: Sin separates from God, be it the sin of a person or of a nation. God demands righteousness on the part of the people with whom He enters into covenant relationship. The fault of rejection is not the Lord’s but His peoples’ choice of the ways of sin.
ISAIAH 59: 1-8
SYMPTOMS OF A SOCIETY’S SINFULNESS
There are always reasons if God’s promises are not being fulfilled. It is not because God cannot fulfill His Word or does not want to fulfill His Word. Here God states He is not fulfilling His promises and delivering His people because their evil deeds had created a separation between them. Sin separates from God, be it the sin of a person or of a nation. God demands righteousness on the part of the people with whom He enters into covenant relationship. The fault of rejection is not the Lord’s but His peoples’ choice of the ways of sin.
I. SEPARATED BY SIN, 1-2.
II. RAMPANT VIOLENCE & INJUSTICE, 3-4.
III. HATCHING SPIDERS & WEAVING WEBS, 5-6.
IV. SOCIETY’S SETTLED BEHAVIOR, 7-8.
The prophet responses to the people’s complaint that God was gone or unable to hear and answer their prayers in verse 1. Behold, the Lord’s hand is not so short that it cannot save; Nor is His ear so dull that it cannot hear.
The people are asking why God does not seem to answer their prayers. Why do they have no sense of His presence and power in their personal lives and in their society? Why is God not keeping all the wonderful messianic promises (such as 58:8-9, l0b-12, 14)? The answers that they have been accepting - that God is not strong enough (His hand is too short), or that He is not really paying attention (His ear is too heavy)- are incorrect. God’s promises are prevented from being kept by one thing only: flagrant sin. [Oswalt, NIC Isaiah, 513].
The prophet reminded the nation that the Lord could save them in spite of their difficult circumstances. He is powerful enough-His arm (v.16; 40:10) is not . . . short. And He is caring enough-He is not dull of hearing. There must be some other reason God has not delivered His people from their circumstances.
The real reason God seemed distant and unconcern is given in verse 2. But 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.
The prophet explains why the prayers of the people are not answered and why God seems so far away. It is because of their sinfulness. Those sins are a barrier (separation) between the people and God.
The Lord could save them but the nation’s sins had separated them from Him (Ps. 66:18; Prov. 28:9), from His face or presence. Though He could hear them, He chose not to listen.
Sin prevents prayer from being answered (Ps. 66:18). If we think we can have a relationship with God while living in sin, we are badly mistaken. Sin separates us from God (1 Jn. 1:6; Jer. 5:25; Hab. 1:13).
Surprising things can happen in a courtroom. A judge might throw out strong evidence against a defendant even a tape-recorded confession - if the proper rules of jurisprudence were violated in obtaining it. Even if he hears the confession, he disregards it. In a sense, a breach of the rules makes it nonexistent.
A similar thing can happen with prayer. Although God knows our every thought, He may disregard our prayers and petitions if we have allowed sin to destroy our fellowship with Him. The Bible says that God is not obligated to hear us if:
. we are living in sinfulness (Isaiah 59:1-2)
. our heart is cherishing some sin (Ps. 66:18)
. if we ignore the pleas of the poor (Prov. 21:13)
. there is discord in the home (1 Pet. 3:7)
. we doubt His ability to answer (James 1:6,7)
. our requests are self centered (James 4:3)
. we fail to read His Word (Prov. 28:9)
While the moon was experiencing AN ECLIPSE it complained to the Sun, "Why don’t you shine on me as usual?" "I am shining as I always do," the sun replied, "but the earth has come between us." And you, Christian, who have lost the joy of your salvation, and no longer bask in the sunshine of God’s presence, is it the earth and its pursuits that have come between your soul and Him, or what is it? He is the same, His love is as great as ever.
God wants us to talk to Him, to praise Him, and even to petition Him with our requests. But we cannot assume that He hears us just because we pray. We must first live in a way that honors Him and follows His standards. When we do that, we are assured that He will hear our prayers. Remember, James (5:16) said that it’s the prayer of the righteous that is effective.
Whenever a PLANE GOES DOWN, the FAA sends out investigators to find out what went wrong. Oftentimes, we feel as though our prayers crash before answers come or, worse, never even make it off the runway. And when our prayers crash or fail to take off altogether, we have a tendency to stop praying. But what we need to do is to be more like the FAA. We need to do some heavy-duty investigation, not looking-for the black box that houses the words of the pilots, but looking at the pages of the Word of God.