The Redeemer Comes to Zion
Dr. Joe Temple

Introduction

Open your Bibles, please, to the book of Isaiah, and notice chapter 59. I am going to suggest that we read the chapter that we might become familiar with its contents, and then we will seek the mind of the LORD in understanding it for application to our lives. We read from verse 1:

Isaiah 59

1Behold, the LORD's hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear:
2But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.
3For your hands are defiled with blood, and your fingers with iniquity; your lips have spoken lies, your tongue hath muttered perverseness.
4None calleth for justice, nor any pleadeth for truth: they trust in vanity, and speak lies; they conceive mischief, and bring forth iniquity.
5They hatch cockatrice' eggs, and weave the spider's web: he that eateth of their eggs dieth, and that which is crushed breaketh out into a viper.
6Their webs shall not become garments, neither shall they cover themselves with their works: their works are works of iniquity, and the act of violence is in their hands.
7Their feet run to evil, and they make haste to shed innocent blood: their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity; wasting and destruction are in their paths.
8The way of peace they know not; and there is no judgment in their goings: they have made them crooked paths: whosoever goeth therein shall not know peace.

Verses 1-8 represent God's denunciation of the nation of Israel for their sad moral condition. The paragraph at which we look now, beginning with verse 9, is going to represent Isaiah, the spokesman for the nation of Israel, in his declaration of the correctness of this denunciation. It represents his confession for his people of the righteousness of God in speaking about Israel in this fashion. Notice the trend of the paragraph with that in mind as we hear Isaiah speaking for the nation, saying:

Isaiah 59

9Therefore is judgment far from us, neither doth justice overtake us: we wait for light, but behold obscurity; for brightness, but we walk in darkness.
10We grope for the wall like the blind, and we grope as if we had no eyes: we stumble at noon day as in the night; we are in desolate places as dead men.
11We roar all like bears, and mourn sore like doves: we look for judgment, but there is none; for salvation, but it is far off from us.
12For our transgressions are multiplied before thee, and our sins testify against us: for our transgressions are with us; and as for our iniquities, we know them;
13In transgressing and lying against the LORD, and departing away from our God, speaking oppression and revolt, conceiving and uttering from the heart words of falsehood.
14And judgment is turned away backward, and justice standeth afar off: for truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter.
15Yea, truth faileth; and he that departeth from evil maketh himself a prey…

We stop our reading in the middle of this verse, reminding you that that which we have just read represents Isaiah's declaration of the truth of God's denunciation.

The last portion of the chapter we might characterize as God's deliverance of His people, for that is what the paragraph culminates with. Notice the middle of verse 15:

Isaiah 59

15…and the LORD saw it, and it displeased him that there was no judgment.
16And he saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor: therefore his arm brought salvation unto him; and his righteousness, it sustained him.
17For he put on righteousness as a breastplate, and an helmet of salvation upon his head; and he put on the garments of vengeance for clothing, and was clad with zeal as a cloak.
18According to their deeds, accordingly he will repay, fury to his adversaries, recompence to his enemies; to the islands he will repay recompence.
19So shall they fear the name of the LORD from the west, and his glory from the rising of the sun. When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD shall lift up a standard against him.
20And the Redeemer shall come to Zion, and unto them that turn from transgression in Jacob, saith the LORD.
21As for me, this is my covenant with them, saith the LORD; My spirit that is upon thee, and my words which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seed's seed, saith the LORD, from henceforth and for ever.

I think that it would be wise to pinpoint this passage of Scripture from two standpoints—first, from the book of Isaiah itself. We would remind you that we are in the last section of the last half of the book of Isaiah. The last half of the book of Isaiah begins with chapter 40 and it concludes with chapter 66. It is divided into three sections of nine chapters each. We are in the third cycle of nine chapters. We have just begun the third cycle with chapter 58.

Sin Interrupts Communication With God

You will recall that in chapter 58, God gave promise that He would hear the cry of His people. They that delighted themselves in the LORD would be caused to ride upon the high places of the earth. The sad situation existing in Isaiah's day belittled what the prophets said because they were not riding on the high places of the earth. They had reached just about the lowest ebb that was possible for the nation of Israel to reach. It seemed almost contradictory for Isaiah to be saying, “They that delight themselves in the LORD shall ride upon the high places of the earth.” Naturally, they would ask Isaiah the question, “Isaiah, why aren't we riding on the high places of the earth? Why isn't all this you say true? Has God's power failed? Is God not able to do what He says He will do? What is the reason?” Isaiah answered in verse 1, by saying:

Isaiah 59

1Behold, the LORD's hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear:
2But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.

Beloved, this is an eternal principle. It was true in Isaiah's day; it is true today; it will be true in that future day to which this passage of Scripture actually refers, as we will see in a moment. But, before we go ahead that far may I remind you that if God is not hearing your prayers, one of the reasons could very well be that your sins have built a barrier between you and God. Don't think for a moment that His arm is so short that He cannot reach out where you are. Don't think for a moment that His ear has been afflicted that He cannot hear. His ear is wide open. He can hear even the faintest whisper from the weakest saint.

This passage of Scripture says that something has interrupted the communication. There is interference, and that interference is sin. I would remind you that whether you are a Gentile living in this Age of Grace or whether you are a Jew in Isaiah's day or a future day, sin is the impassable barrier between man and God in relation to your prayer life. Before you dismiss some request that you have made as being out of the will of God, before you dismiss some request as being beyond the power of God, it might be well to ask the Holy Spirit of God, with the Word of God, to search your heart. There could be some unconfessed sin in your life, and if there is, you will never get the ear of God until that sin, that iniquity, has been acknowledged before the LORD.

I repeat, this is an eternal principle, but primarily it is related to the nation of Israel (listen carefully now) which will be living just prior to the coming of the Lord in glory. This is prophecy, and this passage of Scripture is describing the sad state in which the nation of Israel will be living before the Lord Jesus Christ comes. There can be no doubt about that if you look at verse 20 and accept the Word according to its primary, ordinary, literal meaning, for there you read:

Isaiah 59

20And the Redeemer shall come to Zion, and unto them that turn from transgression in Jacob, saith the LORD.

When the Bible says, “The Redeemer shall come…” it means that He will come literally, physically, bodily, and you can't make anything else out of it unless you do violence to the Scripture. We know from our study of the book of Isaiah that the Lord Jesus Christ is going to return to this earth someday, and His return will be very vitally related to the nation of Israel which will be gathered in the land of Palestine in that day. Of course, as we have mentioned many times, we are privileged to live in this marvelous generation when the nation of Israel exists as a nation today in the land of Palestine, recognized by all the nations of the world.

The condition that is described has not reached the zenith of its maturity, but it will before the Lord Jesus Christ actually comes back. In the paragraph which we read first, which we labeled as denunciation of the nation of Israel for its iniquity, you will recall those sins, transgressions and iniquities were described in detail. As I read you might have thought that there was some empty or pointless repetition, but we would remind you that this portion of the book of Isaiah is poetry, and we remind you that Hebrew poetry is not related to a rhyming of words, but to a parallelism of thought. Oftentimes, what may seem as empty repetition is a poetic expression of the subject at hand. Notice what I mean as you glance at verse 3:

Lying Hinders Prayer Life

Isaiah 59

3For your hands are defiled with blood, and your fingers with iniquity; your lips have spoken lies, your tongue hath muttered perverseness.

Lips and tongue. May I suggest that we stop and recognize that Isaiah is telling the folk that lying will hinder the prayer life. Lying will build a barrier between you and God when you pray. Why am I emphasizing that? Because I think that you are all liars? No, I am emphasizing it because if we were talking about murder, and we realize that all of us are capable of it, it is not likely that any or many of us will be murderers, but it is possible and entirely probable that many of us are liars, for lying is something that is awfully easy to do. Do you find yourself doing it sometimes and excusing it with exaggeration? Do you find yourself lying sometimes and excusing it with forgetfulness? Do you find yourself lying sometimes and a psychatrist might excuse it as a sickness? May I remind you that it is sin, and sin will keep God from hearing any prayer that you pray, no matter what you may think about it.

If a person was exceptionally honest when he is arguing, he might say, “I know that I have had some of my prayers answered, and I am a liar.” Let's recognize that God didn't answer your prayer. You say, “I know that He did. I asked Him for a certain thing, and it happened.” I want to tell you that God answers the prayers of other people, and many, many things that you think have happened because you prayed, have happened because some of God's dear children have been praying for the same thing, for God does not violate His Word. A liar cannot have his prayers answered.

You will notice the figurative language in the paragraph related to cockatrice eggs and spider's webs and, down in verse 7, feet that run to do evil and make haste to shed innocent blood. It sums it all up in verse 8 by saying:

Isaiah 59

8The way of peace they know not…

Let that sink in. A liar has no peace. The believer who is out of fellowship, whether it is for the reason that is suggested in this paragraph, or some other, has no peace. He is restless; he is miserable. Now, if he is not taught as well as he might be, he may not know the reason for his restlessness. He may not know the reason for his lack of peace, but it is because he is out of fellowship. The reason there is no peace is continued in the second paragraph where we look. Isaiah begins it with the word therefore , and says:

Isaiah 59

9Therefore is judgment far from us, neither doth justice overtake us: we wait for light, but behold obscurity; for brightness, but we walk in darkness.

He describes a life that is marked by confusion. It is a life that is marked by height and by depth. It is a life that is marked by moments of exhilaration and pits of despair. Those are the characteristics of a life whose sins have separated it from God.

A Man Out of Fellowship is as Desolate as the Dead

Notice the figures of speech which he uses to indicate this confusion. In verse 9, he said, “We wait for light, but behold obscurity. We wait for brightness, and we walk in darkness.” Do you get the picture? Here is an individual wishing for the light, but all of his life is darkness.

The picture is even more emphatic in verse 10, where he said:

Isaiah 59

10We grope for the wall like the blind, and we grope as if we had no eyes…

That is the reason, Beloved, it is so dangerous to be out of fellowship. Oh, the trouble that a blind man can get into even though his heart is perfectly right. He may fall off a precipice. He may walk in front of an automobile. He could be killed for no other reason in the world than that he is blind. I would like to emphasize that when a believer is out of fellowship, he is as helpless as a blind man, and anything can happen to him. That is the reason it is so dangerous, and he emphasizes it again when he says:

Isaiah 59

10…we stumble at noon day as in the night; we are in desolate places as dead men.

“We stumble at noon day when the sun is at its height, and the brightest hour of the day arrives. We stumble at noon day as though we were living in the densest night, and we are as desolate as the dead.” I do not know of a greater characteristic of a man out of fellowship with God than that. We are as desolate as the dead.

These next figures of speech indicate the heights and depths to which men can go when they are out of fellowship and the confusion that reigns in their lives. Notice the difference between a bear and a dove. “We roar like bears,” He says. “We mourn like doves.” The difference between a shout and a whisper, the heights and the depths, is the condition of the man who is out of fellowship with God.

Confession of Sin

Isaiah said in verse 12, “LORD, we want to acknowledge that what You have said is true.” Beloved, this is the best way to confess. I John, chapter 1, verse 9, says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

I have pointed out to you before that the word confess simply means to feel the same way about something. The Holy Spirit puts His finger on sin in your life, and He says, “That is sin,” and the very moment you say, “Holy Spirit, you are right; I agree with You, it is sin,” then you have confessed it. Of course, if you feel the same way as God does about it, you won't merely say, “That's right,” and go on living in it. You will hate it as God hates it, and you will want to put it out of your life.

I want to impress upon you that the confession of sin is not the mere repetition that some of us go through at the close of the day when we say, “LORD, if I have sinned today, forgive me. Amen. Good night, sleep tight.” That is about all that it amounts to. There must be an acknowledgment that it is real.

Notice what Isaiah said in verse 12: “LORD, our transgressions are multiplied before thee. LORD, you said that we have transgressed. I confess that we have multiplied our transgressions.” And he said, “Our sins testify against us.” Nobody needs to squeal on us to God. You know, we have developed the habit where it is better to lie than to squeal. Nobody needs to squeal to God. Our sins testify against us, and Isaiah said, “Nobody is any more conscious of it than we are because,” he said, “our transgressions are with us, and as for our iniquity and our lying, we know them.” You know that is true.

I am never interested in telling people what kind of sinners they are. They know it, and if they are not willing to acknowledge it, your telling them is not going to help it any. A man who sees things as God sees will be conscious of his sins, and he will want to put them away from him because he will be in the state of confusion described in this paragraph. He will be miserable without peace.

God Amazed That Sin Could Exist and No One Care

In the middle of verse 15, which begins the last section, God is quoted by Isaiah as seeing all of this and being displeased that it was all true, for there was no judgment and, being even further displeased, amazed that nobody was doing anything about it. There was no intercessor.

There are only five times in the Bible that God is referred to as wondering or amazed about anything, and this is one of them—amazed that sin could exist and nobody care, amazed that individuals would tolerate sin and live in open disobedience to Him and be thoroughly unconcerned about it. Isn't it amazing the number of individuals who can live in sin and be absolutely unconcerned? I am talking about Christians. I am not talking about sinners. They are dead. They shouldn't have any concern, but I am talking about Christians who have been brought to life and yet are living in sin and thoroughly unconcerned about it.

Of course, another thing that concerns the Father—it ought to concern all of us—is that not only are we unconcerned about sin in our own individual lives, but many of us are unconcerned about the sin in the lives of believers whom we know. Oh, how easy it is for us to make excuses for sin in the life of those whom we know and those whom we love.

Satan to Dominate Society

The passage of Scripture is entering into that discussion that we must consider primarily from a national standpoint, because from this point on, particularly, God is looking down upon the world at the end of that period of time that is called the Tribulation . The Holy Spirit will have been taken out of the world and all restraint in relation to wickedness will be removed. The stops will be pulled out, and sin will be wide open.

We used to have an expression about some cities and some towns where there were no so-called blue laws , where righteousness wasn't legalized and morality wasn't bound up on the law books of the cities and towns involved. We spoke of those towns as being wide open, and you could get anything you wanted, and the law did not restrict you in any way.

I want to tell you something, Beloved. You could tell me of the most wide-open town that you knew anything about, and I will tell you that you ain't seen nothing yet, because when the Holy Spirit is taken out of this world and the brakes are removed, this world is going to go careening toward Hell as it never has before, and the Devil, with all restraint removed, will dominate a society through the Antichrist and his False Prophet so that wickedness will be the order of the day and, as we read in this passage of Scripture, the individual who departs from evil will make himself a prey. He will be an object of persecution.

The Lord Will Return, Ready to Do Battle

There is a sense in which that is true in any age, but it is nothing like it will be during the Tribulation, so pinpoint this passage of Scripture in the dispensation of the ages and realize that we are speaking of God's looking down upon the earth at the time mentioned in the Tribulation, amazed that nobody cares, that nobody is interested, but something has to be done. We read in the last part of verse 16:

Isaiah 59

16…therefore his arm brought salvation unto him; and his righteousness, it sustained him.

We have learned in our study of the book of Isaiah that sometimes when you see the phrase, the arm of the Lord , it is a reference to the Lord Jesus Christ. It would be doing no violence to the Scripture to think so here. It might be wise to point out, for those who might not want to think that the arm of the Lord here is definitely the Lord Jesus Christ, that the word arm elsewhere in the Old Testament is translated by the word power , and it doesn't make a great deal of difference for we do know that the Lord Jesus Christ Himself will return clothed in an armor, ready to do battle. That armor is described in verse 17, where we read:

Isaiah 59

17For he put on righteousness as a breastplate, and an helmet of salvation upon his head; and he put on the garments of vengeance [or vindication] for clothing, and was clad with zeal as a cloak.

He is ready to do battle, and He comes back with that intent in mind to reward men:

Isaiah 59

18According to their deeds, accordingly he will repay, fury to his adversaries, recompence to his enemies [the Antichrist, the Devil, and the False Prophet]

He Will Bring Worldwide Judgment

Not only will He visit Israel with His chastening rod, but He will bring judgment upon the islands. This word islands would better be translated coastlands , and it has reference to the continents of the world surrounded by water, which indicates that we are speaking of a worldwide judgment at the time that the Lord Jesus comes. That, of course, is made even more definite by the statement in verse 19, where we read:

Isaiah 59

19So shall they fear the name of the LORD from the west, and his glory from the rising of the sun…

From east to west men will fear the glory of the LORD. This ties in with other passages of Scripture related to this great event, because the rest of the Word of God reminds us that when the Lord Jesus Christ returns, every eye shall see Him, and every tongue shall confess that He is LORD to the glory of God. The same portion of the Word of God reminds us that so horrible will be the sight of His return, His revelation. Keep in mind that we are not talking about the blessed hope of the Church. The blessed hope of the Church is never associated with fear and uncertainty. That is the reason it is called the blessed hope . The blessed hope occurs before this event that I am talking about. It is that blessed hope that is given to the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ that some day He will return in the air and catch every believer up in the air. Don't be afraid of that. Don't lie awake at night in terror and wonder if the Lord will come tonight. Instead, go to bed and say to your heart, “Wouldn't it be wonderful if Jesus came tonight?” It would be.

I talked to a dear one who had lost her husband. She said, “Brother Joe, I gave him his orange juice. He didn't take it for anybody but me. I gave it to him, then I reached out and I held his hand, and while we were holding hands, he went home to be with Jesus.”

It was sweet that he could go that way, but that dear soul is lonely. She is left all alone. She has no kinfolk of any kind, and my heart is filled with compassion for her. Wouldn't it be wonderful if, instead of us having to be separated that way from the ones we love, the Lord Jesus Christ would come and catch us up to be with Himself?

I always like to interrupt and make that clear, because when I was very young, I wasn't saved, but I did hear Dr. Fuller talking about the coming of the Lord. I wasn't paying too close attention, or I got all mixed up about it, and every time the sun would get big and red in the sky, I would go hide behind the garage. I was just an eight year old boy, scared to death, crying my heart out because I thought Jesus was going to come. You see, no one had told me that when He comes for believers, there is nothing to be afraid of; it is something to rejoice in.

Christ to Come as the Redeemer

I am not talking about that at the moment. I am talking about that which will occur when God will look down upon this earth, from which all the brakes have been removed and sin is rampant, and He will say, “I have stood it as long as I am going to stand it, and the Lord Jesus Christ, clothed with vengeance, will return.” In verse 20, we read:

Isaiah 59

20And the Redeemer shall come to Zion, [notice very carefully] and unto them that turn from transgression in Jacob, saith the LORD.

You see, He is coming back to Jerusalem. That is His headquarters. He is going to come as the Redeemer. In the book of Romans, chapter 11, verse 15, the Apostle Paul quotes this passage of Scripture. He paraphrases it, saying, “All Israel shall be saved.” Some folk read that and they think that it says that every Jew is going to be saved. Some folk even go so far as to say that God is going to raise them from the dead and save them.

That is not what that verse means at all. It says very plainly right here. We have already pinpointed this dispensationally. The nation of Israel is gathered in the land just at the end of the Tribulation. The Lord Jesus Christ will come to those in Jacob (Israel) who will turn to Him. Israel will be saved then just like men are saved today—by turning to the Lord. There is no other way to be saved. God does not make any difference.

God Will Raise Up a Standard

I want to draw your attention to one precious promise in verse 19. This has been a blessing to all the saints of God down through all the ages, and how we have learned to rest upon it even in our lifetime. Notice the last part of verse 19:

Isaiah 59

19…When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD shall lift up a standard against him.

Literally, this is a reference to the enemy that will be gathered around the little nation of Jerusalem, beleaguered by the forces of the Antichrist. They are going to come in like a flood, and the Lord Jesus Christ in His return is going to lift up a standard against them. This word standard is from the Hebrew word nuwc , and it really means “to put to flight,” and it is so translated in Deuteronomy, chapter 30, when we are told that a thousand shall put to flight ten thousand, and that is what is going to happen when the Lord comes back.

I have told you often that every Scripture has one interpretation and as many applications as is consistant with the Word of God, and we now make a precious application. When the enemy, the Devil, and all of his forces shall come in like a flood—that is, to sweep us off our feet as a flood sweeps everything before it—God will raise up a standard and God will say, “Thus far, and no farther.” The Devil is helpless when the standard is raised up against him.

I wonder how many of us are swept away by the flood when we don't need to be? I wonder how many of us are swept into defeat when there is no need for it? When we hear the roaring and the rushing of the waters, I wish we could say, “Oh, God lift up the standard.” He will, just as He told Satan, when Satan desired to have Job, “Devil, so far and no farther.” The Devil said, “I'd like to kill him,” and God said, “You can't do it.” No matter how much affliction Job suffered and no matter how bad the Devil wanted to kill him, he couldn't do it because God raised up a standard against him.

Ask God to Raise a Standard In Our Behalf

Beloved, we are fast approaching these days to which I have referred when wickedness is on the throne and righteousness is in the dust. We are fast approaching the day when men who turn away from evil will be a fit prey for all the wild animals of wickedness. If we haven't learned to ask God to raise up that standard in our behalf we had better become practiced in the art, because it will be necessary.


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