Isaiah 59:9-21 The Remnant’s Intercessor-Redeemer.
Their sins had separated the nation from God so that he would not hear their prayers, even though there is nowhere where the LORD cannot save his people. Since there was no pursuit of truth and justice, their acts were evil, and their words were empty. “Therefore,” justice and righteousness was far from them, and this light being absent, they were overcome with darkness (v. 9 Cf. Jer. 8:15), leaving them groping around like the blind – “as dead men in desolate places” (v. 10 Cf. Job 5:14; Amos 8:9). This was in direct fulfillment of the covenantal curses that would befall the nation if they rebelled against the LORD (Cf. 24:5; Dt. 28:29). Justice, in the case of all sinful people, must be met with salvation if we are to have any hope. The people groaned like bears and moaned like doves, because both justice and salvation were absent (v. 11 Cf. 38:14; Ezek. 7:16).
It is the nature of sin that they multiply with each other, even exponentially, thus their transgressions are multiplied before the LORD (v. 12a Cf. 58:1). Their sins testified against them. Their relationship with their iniquities was intimate and personal (v. 12b). Transgressions lead to lying as we seek to cover or justify our sins (v. 13a). These transgressions are conceived in the heart, and the words spoken betray one’s revolt, they are false, and oppressive (v. 13b Cf. Mt. 12:34). As a result, “justice is turned back, and righteousness stands afar off; for truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter” (v. 14). This is what happens when people reject the truth, some so basic as denying there is such a thing as truth. When truth falls, then justice and righteousness fall with it, and whole societies crumble as equity is denied.
Given the widespread corruption above, “he who departs from evil makes himself a prey” (v. 15a Cf. 5:23; 10:2; 29:21; 32:7). All of this was seen by the LORD and it displeased him, that “there was no justice” (v. 15b). Anyone departing from evil was clearly rare, but there was also no intercessor (v. 16a Cf. 41:28; 63:5; 64:7; Ezek. 22:30). So the LORD determined to send his own Intercessor, the Servant that he spoke of earlier, because this personage would be sustained by his own righteousness, so he alone could bring salvation. “Therefore His own arm brought salvation for Him; and His own righteousness, it sustained Him” (v. 16b Cf. 63:5). As the only one who could be mediator between God and humanity, he would intercede for his own, “for He put on righteousness as a breastplate, and a helmet of salvation on His head” (v. 17a Cf. Eph. 6:14-17; I Th. 5:8).
However, this Intercessor would also “put on the garments of vengeance for clothing,” and would be “clad with zeal as a cloak” (v. 17b Cf. 61:2). This is a paradigm that runs throughout the scriptures, salvation would come to the remnant, in the immediate case of this passage, evidenced by those who depart from evil (v. 15b 62:12), but covenantal vengeance against the apostate nation, and he would do so with zeal. Zeal for his own house would consume him. This is what also took place when this Servant Intercessor finally made his advent, a light to the remnant from all nations, but vengeance upon apostate members of the old covenant administration (Cf. Ps. 69:9; Jn. 2:17). The latter were his enemies, who in his fury he would repay and recompense according to their own deeds (v. 18 Cf. 63:6; Rom. 2:6).
The people would rightfully fear when the Servant Intercessor so comes, when the covenant name LORD, and his glory, are evident for all to see (v. 19a Cf. Ps. 113:3; Mal. 1:11). When the enemy seems to be at their worst, “coming in like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD will lift up a standard against him” (v. 19b). This is now fulfilled in his church, the woman persecuted of Revelation 12:1-17, the devil being that dragon. This Servant Intercessor, through his role as mediator of the covenant, would also be the Redeemer of the remnant, the true Zion (Cf. Heb. 12:22-24). These are those who repent of their sins and look to him in faith (v. 20). Further proof can be seen in Paul’s quotation of these verses (20-21) at Romans 11:26-27. His covenant, his Spirit, and his words will not depart from time or eternity (v. 21 Cf. Jer. 31:33; Zech. 8:8; Heb. 8:10; 10:16).