CLICK HERE to read Isaiah 59.
While chapters 58 and 60 very much go together, this chapter is a monologue where Isaiah takes a time out to process all He has seen and learned. He urges the Israelites to return to the Lord, and reminds them of the Lord’s promises to gather and restore them in the latter days. The Israelites followed a pattern throughout history of being very close to the Lord while being obedient, but then blaming Him for not answering their prayers when they were disobedient (instead of recognizing the consequences of their behavior) (verse 1). It is not that God cannot hear their prayers, but rather that God can see what they are doing in secret (verse 2).
He calls them out for priestcraft, saying they have sought out power through murder and lies (verse 3). No one is being brave to stand for truth, and no one is being courageous to lead the people back to righteousness (verse 4). Their culture and community is being overtaken by iniquity, so that even children are born into this “poison” and their innocence devoured by wickedness (verse 5). There is no good in them, like silk coming from worms, and instead it is only a trap – like a spider – and they have trapped only themselves (verse 6).
Instead of seeking peace and working to heal, these people only seek to harm and destroy (verse 7). They will not be able to find peace because they will keep suffering their own consequences (verse 8). They will keep waiting for understanding, for positive effects of their ill-gained power, and wanting goodness in their lives but will not have it because they are full of works of darkness (verse 9). Compared to the inspiration and revelation received by those with access to the Holy Spirit, it will be as if they walk in darkness and cannot see at all and understand nothing (verse 10).
The people will “roar” in pain and agony, but not cry out for help; they will mourn their sufferings but not submit to Him for help, and so the Lord waits to help them until they call out to Him (verse 11). They will finally understand that their sins have separated them from God, and that they need the atonement to bridge that gap (verse 12). As they begin to seek the atonement sincerely, they will begin to understand that what they have done was like lying because it denied the atonement and betrayed the covenants they have made (even premortally) (verse 13). They will see that they abandoned their connections to God until they were left without mercy, entirely given to the demands of justice (verse 14).
The biggest consequence of this becomes that people almost cannot even escape it, because wickedness has become such a part of society (verse 15). No one will defend the oppressed, no one will stand for righteousness, no one will rescue those without access to the priesthood (“widows and orphans”, converts, singles) (verse 16). Only the Lord will be able to redeem them and bring them unto righteousness (verse 17; see also Ephesians 6). But He is the Redeemer and the Advocate, and so the Lord will make amends to those who have been oppressed and persecuted all over the world (verse 18). Few will survive these judgments and delivering of consequences, and those who do will know He has been just and that He is a righteous King (verse 19). He will rescue and deliver all those who turn to Him and are ready to work for His kingdom (verse 20). All these things are recorded and written down, with Isaiah being promised that all the Lord has spoken will be fulfilled (verse 21).