Isaiah 59:1-21

Daybreak for Students

Isaiah 59:1-21

Isaiah 59
So 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. — Isaiah 59:19

Recently one of my friends had a rough week. On Tuesday, while she was at the neighborhood grocery store, her tire was deliberately slashed. The next morning the dryer quit working, and since there are six people in her household, many loads of laundry can pile up in a hurry. After a semi-desperate conversation with her repairman, he finally agreed that he would schedule her on Friday. Later that afternoon the dishwasher went out, so she called to change the repair order to two items. Then the icemaker in her refrigerator quit working, necessitating another call to the service department. This visit would really be worth his time! It turned out that each item had to have parts ordered, which would take a week or two to arrive.

While this is a relatively insignificant example of the enemy coming in like a flood, it is still a disquieting accumulation of repairs. However, when my friend learned about a family who was facing the death of a child, she knew she had so much to be thankful for. Her home was intact, all of their children were safe, and she still did have several working appliances!

It is easy to get so comfortable with the rhythm of our days that we chafe under the minor trials that life brings. However, upheavals do come, and a “flood” of challenges all at once can leave us feeling slightly battered, or even overwhelmed. In the midst of multiple challenges, we can claim the promise in our focus verse. The appropriate definition of standard in this usage is, “a flag indicating the presence of a sovereign or public official.” That Sovereign is Jesus, and if we are obeying Him, He is present with us.

Obviously, not all trials of life are spiritual battles, but whatever their nature, they can help us to grow in spiritual virtues. Let us remember to talk to the Lord about each issue in particular, and especially when many issues have stacked up all at once. If we ask for His strength and wisdom to get through the “flood,” He will help us tackle the barrage in a composed manner. When the problems have passed, we can discover that we have gained spiritual ground, such as trust in the One who helped us, patience to just deal with the problems at hand, and grace to simply accept the flood as potential for spiritual growth.

As a bonus, if we exemplify patience in tribulation, people around us will be influenced for good. If they are not yet Christians, they may ask about the source of our strength. If they have already been redeemed, they might be encouraged to trust more fully when they encounter a flood!


Chapter 59 begins with a description of the potential power of God to save if man would only seek Him, followed by a warning of the separation brought about by mankind’s propensity to sinfulness and neglect of God. Through Isaiah, God condemned the thoughts, language, and actions of the nation of Israel. There was widespread disintegration of moral values, and those who were unfaithful to God were often disloyal to their fellowmen as well. Various members of the body aided in perpetrating this unrighteousness: hands, fingers, lips, tongue, feet, and mind. Their wicked acts included iniquity, lies, killing of innocents, lack of truth or justice, conceiving mischief, and violence. The end of the chapter is a reminder that salvation is of God, and He is all-powerful.

In verse 2, the prophet stated that sin hides God’s face and separates the Creator from those He created. Israel had turned toward iniquity, and God was in the other direction. The people could not expect Him to look favorably upon them. It was an affront to God that Israel moved in the direction of sin and yet expected Him to rescue them from their difficulties. Similarly, when “truth is fallen in the street,” they could not expect justice.

The word vanity in verse 4 means “nothingness.” The same word is used in Genesis 1:2 (“the earth was without form. . .”). This form of the verb implies continuous action, meaning the people of Israel were constantly trusting in nothingness or worthless ideas.

Cockatrice eggs, mentioned in verse 5, are from poisonous snakes. Eating the eggs brought death, and if they were left to hatch, they brought forth more snakes. Similarly, the spider’s web was an attempt to ensnare.

Israel had been so rebellious against God that justice, truth, and righteousness had departed. Therefore, God would not rescue them, but would allow Babylon to conquer Israel as punishment. “There was no intercessor” indicated that there was no one to stand between the sinful people and God’s judgment. Consequently, God caused Isaiah to prophesy of the time when He Himself would step in to help them. The concluding verses of the chapter look forward to the Millennial Reign when Israel will recognize their Messiah and peace will cover the earth.


(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
IV.   The message of consolation: The Holy One of Israel comforting, redeeming and enriching
      C.   The provision for deliverance (future glory)
             1.   The need for deliverance
                   b.   Their separation through sin (59:1-21)
                         (1)   The sinfulness of Israel (59:1-8)
                         (2)   The confession of Israel 59:9-15)
                         (3)   The intervention of God (59:16-19)
                         (4)   The advent of Messiah (59:20-21)


  1. List the sins enumerated in this chapter. Which are also common in today’s world? 

  2. How should we expect God to react to similar wickedness today?

  3. Several promises are found in this chapter. What must we do for these promises to apply to us?


Upheavals, trials, and sin may be around us, but we can hold fast to God and His promises. He wants to be a strong Savior for us.