What does Isaiah 59:1-15 say about systemic sin?

Continuing the discussion from What counsel do you have for American Christians during our present crisis?:

I would like to explore how Isaiah 59:1-15 applies to Christians in crisis. This passage is the first in a series of Bible readings about truth that I recently started. It is written to the “house of Jacob” (Isaiah 58:1, ESV), but I believe that its principles apply to all believers in Christ.

The passage is filled with anguish. It starts with:

It then describes the iniquity that separates from God: bloody hands, lying tongues, unjust lawsuits, legal entrapment; injustice, blindness, moaning, lying. It ends:

This is not really an end, but a transition into a prophecy about the Saviour. This scene wrenches my heart, though. Two passages particularly stand out for me:

and

and

Much more lay between these excerpts. These are just the words that hit me like bricks because they closely parallel what I personally am observing around me. My spirit has been moaning and groaning a lot lately. I mourn injustice and legalism. I see a lot of pain and hatred. I think that if we examine our respective worlds, however, we will find that this stems from denial of the Truth–turning from God and seeking our own ways. I know that I have experienced the most personal misery when I have done this.

What does this passage say to you? What sins may be causing you and the people around you to suffer the anguish that you see? What does this passage imply to you about the solution to the problem of systemic sin?

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Hey @blbossard, great reflection there. Yes, our world has separated from God in many levels and thus we live in fear and in survival mode whether we realize or not. It is about securing our position, money, taking care of “own family, race, ethnicity”. That causes us to always be on a watch for what is “threatening” to our security. What we are not familiar becomes scary. The media does not help either. It paints us a wrong impression of the things that we are not familar with and we put people in boxes and live a lie. A lie leads to torture, to all of us. The laws of God are written on our hearts now unlike the times prior to the NT, we each are responsible. My prayer is that God continues to weld our hearts to give us the wisdom to see that we truly are the cause of it all. We need to search, ask, reflect, and pray to see the light. We need to learn from each other and learn to walk in other people’s shoes. It is not just about pointing fingers at others, but pointing the fingers at ourselves and redirecting our focus from fear to love. It is not easy and will take time but only God can change hearts. Our job is to get that gospel message out there so that is a seed that grows in the hearts of all of us.

God Bless.

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Hi Brendan and thank you for your question and its relation to the passage in Isaiah 59 :slightly_smiling_face:.

When I read the passage of scripture, it speaks to me of how our obedience to God is intricately linked to God’s being willing to hear our requests and prayers. God tells His people what He asks of them through His prophets and through His law, yet they willing walk in disobedience and still expect God to do things for them. The longer we walk in active disobedience, the more probable it becomes that we completely forget what the right road was to begin with. Scripture as a whole is a constant reminder of when we realize that we are sinning and turning from God, that even though the journey of wanting to humble ourselves in repentance can be hard, it is needed for healing. The passage in Isaiah challenges me to ask myself whether I am actually willing to listen to what God is telling me, or do I choose to follow my own path and suffer the consequences.

Another scripture that might support your Isaiah passage that could be helpful towards this discussion is in Zechariah.

Zechariah 7: 8-13: And the word of the Lord came to Zechariah, saying, “Thus says the Lord of hosts, Render true judgments, show kindness and mercy to one another, do not oppress the widow, the fatherless, the sojourner, or the poor, and let none of you devise evil against another in your heart.” But they refused to pay attention and turned a stubborn shoulder and stopped their ears that they might not hear. They made their hearts diamond-hard lest they should hear the law and the words that the Lord of hosts had sent by his Spirit through the former prophets. Therefore great anger came from the Lord of hosts. “As I called, and they would not hear, so they called, and I would not hear,” says the Lord of hosts.

Thanks for your great questions. I would be interested to know what others will have to say :slightly_smiling_face:.
God bless

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Good observation, Dan. My life is an example. I become agitated whenever something that I have been depending on for a sense of security starts deteriorating. The more I fight to keep that which I am losing, the more agitated I become. My agitation eases when I remember that God is a stronghold that will never deteriorate and run to him.

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Thank you, Brian, for your insight. Your reference to Zechariah 7:8-13. I “accidentally” added Zechariah 7:14 to the link because it talks about the land becoming desolate. My nation may not become desolate, but God’s children certainly feel emptiness when they seek things other than God.

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