The Messiah in Isaiah Bible Study
Isaiah 59:14-16 - The trampling of truth and the salvation of God
by I Gordon
The week I was preparing this message ended with Valentine's Day and I
was sent the following 'roses are red' type poem which nearly brought a
tear to the eye. Here it is:
God made the rivers, God made the lakes,
God made you. We all make mistakes.
Ok, so the tears were in laughter! It's hard to get respect around
here! : ) What has that got to do with Isaiah 59 you ask? Well, its,
um, if you, well, hmmm... yeah nothing comes to mind. So moving on
(quickly), the study before us today comes from Isaiah chapter 59 and
gives us a glimpse again at the heart of man and the spirit of the age
leading up to the return of Jesus Christ. It obviously contains things
that some would call 'negative'. Yep. That is true for the last days
are difficult days and the Bible doesn't try to sugar coat what things
will be like. There isn't any getting around that. But in this study I
also want to draw your attention to the work of salvation that God is
bringing in areas of the world where you would least expect it!
You may remember that we said that the book of Isaiah is like a
mini-Bible all in one book
. Just as the Old Testament focuses more on the law, holiness and
judgement of God, so this is the focus of the 1st half of
Isaiah. The New Testament focuses on grace and the coming of Jesus,
just as the 2nd half of the book of Isaiah does. Well, we
are now getting near the end of the book of Isaiah and the overriding
theme of the last part of Isaiah is, not surprisingly, the same as the
last part of the Bible itself. That is, the conditions at the end of
the age and the return of Jesus Christ. That is the background to our
passage today. The context is very much the time of the end and the
subject is the trampling and falling of truth leading to Jesus once
again taking matters into His own hands to bringing salvation. Today is
really a Jesus plus nothing message you could say. Let's look at the
passage before us in Isaiah 59:14-16.
Oh Justice! Where art thou?
Isaiah 59:14 Justice is turned back, And righteousness stands far away;
For truth has stumbled in the street, And uprightness cannot enter.
So as a glimpse of the conditions leading up to the return of Jesus
Christ, we read the following: Justice is turned back... truth has
fallen (or stumbled) in the street. Here we see
Isaiah using poetic language to personify these great attributes of
justice, righteousness and truth. So let's examine what he says as it
relates to our age I believe.
Justice is turned back...
Justice is said to have been turned back. She has been turned away. In
short, the leaders no longer want Justice around so she is stopped from
getting into the heart of the city. As a direct consequence, the
innocent are seen as the guilty and the guilty are set free. Earlier on
in Isaiah it says the following:
Isaiah 5:20 - 'Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who
put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for
sweet and sweet for bitter.'
And that is the very state that Isaiah predicts will prevail leading up
to Jesus' return. Turn on your television and watch the news. Do you
see much of an issue with 'justice' and 'injustice' around the world?
It is everywhere is it not? Justice has been turned back in so many
areas just as predicted by Isaiah. But sadly, she is not alone in being
And righteousness stands far away...
Righteousness too can only stand and look from a distance. Her voice is
not easily heard anymore. She still speaks
, but from a distance, and is not where the masses are. If people
desire to listen to Righteousness, they still can, but they would have
to leave the popular places and go out to where she is.
Truth has stumbled in the street...
And what of truth? What has happened to her? Truth lies fallen in the
street. In the place where she used to be received and accepted, she is
no longer wanted. In the Hebrew this word means 'to totter and waver,
and to falter, stumble and fall or be cast down'. In other words the
majority are saying that they don't like truth
. 'We hate how she is so sure and absolute about things! We won't
listen to her. Weaken her! Knock her down! Look! She is starting to
waver, she is starting to fall! Get rid of her!'
That is the picture that is painted of the conditions leading up to the
return of Jesus Christ. It applies primarily to that which is occurring
within the world, but can also be applied to parts of the church as
well as it follows the thoughts and ways of the world.
Hands up who wants to be a prey?
Isaiah 59:15 'Truth is nowhere to be found, and whoever shuns evil becomes a prey.'
This verse tells us that if you want to fit in, it's not hard... just
keep doing and approving what everyone else is doing and approving. And
yet it says that if you turn from those things, and have different
values, if you turn from evil, then you make yourself a prey. In other
words, to be different and uphold the truth as given in God's word can
bring derision, laughing and scorn. Well that is the result in Western
world. In other parts where the church is persecuted, the result can be
beatings, burnings and martyrdom.
Isaiah 59:15 '...The LORD looked and was displeased that there was no
As mentioned earlier, one 'biggie' in the last days will be injustice.
Look at our world... All over the world people are protesting about
injustice. The Arab world has had ongoing protests concerning the
rights of the people for justice, freedom and democracy. Governments
have fallen yet the people could well end up with a worse situation
that what they had. Through the USA, Europe and the Western world
people are protesting against injustice, corruption and greed. Yet the
banksters are NEVER brought to justice for their many crimes and have
left the common man holding the bill for their corrupt practises. But
man is not the only one watching. God watches it as well. He sees it
all in its many forms... And He is not pleased.
But who can intervene? Who can bring salvation?
Isaiah 59:16 He saw that there was no one, he was appalled that there
was no one to intervene; so his own arm worked salvation for him, and
his own righteousness sustained him.
Everyone around the world is looking for a man... Someone to bring
hope! Someone to bring change! Someone who can solve the world's many
'This guy looks good, let's vote for him!' 'Let's get this man in.
He'll save the day!' The problem is they are all just fallen men and
women and as the old saying goes, 'power corrupts and absolute power
corrupts absolutely.' God looks and what did He see? That there is no
man... And the women aren't any better for that matter! So His own arm
brought, and brings, salvation! Jesus plus nothing!
As we have seen, we are in an age when truth is falling. Justice is
being shut out. And one of the key areas that is under attack is this
central truth that it is only Jesus Christ that brings salvation.
Even within the Church we have movements like the Emerging Church, that
try to redefine Christianity and what being evangelical is all about.
Some even redefine salvation from being about the souls of people to
being about the salvation of this physical planet! Many are no longer
willing to say who goes to Heaven. Some are no longer willing to say
whether Moslems worship the same God or not. Truth is falling. And yet
God's own arm still brings salvation!
Our scripture says that the Lord looked and saw no man... there was no
one to intervene or intercede. So He, Jesus, alone brought salvation.
Not Abraham, not David, not Moses, not Buddha, not Muhammad... Jesus
alone! Jesus alone died for the sins of the world and salvation is
found in no one else. George W Bush is not right. All religions do not
worship the same God. The 'emerging church' is not right.
And yet despite the current cloudy haze and confusion that has settled
upon many evangelicals in the west, God still works His wonderful plan
of salvation out in the lives of those that truly want to know the
One fantastic testimony!
Let me give you an example of this as we conclude. The following is a
story that I read in Joel Rosenberg's book 'Inside the Revolution'. It
is the testimony of a Muslim terrorist who truly desired to know who
the true God was. It is quite long but WELL WORTH reading so I will
quote it in full. While it is easy to lose heart when you look at the
church in the west, it is really encouraging reading stories such as
this that show a sovereign Lord bringing salvation in miraculous ways
to those that seek Him from their heart. Be encouraged as you read
this. Remember that if things get darker, it simply makes it easier to
see the light. Or, to quote from Isaiah only a few verses on in Isaiah
'When the enemy comes in like a flood, The Spirit of the Lord will
lift up a standard against him. (NKJV)
Amongst persecution and many hardships in countries such as Iraq and
Iran (and other Moslem dominated nations), God is revealing truth and
salvation in amazing ways! Here is the quote from Rosenberg's book:
I met 'Shakir' during my first trip to Iraq in February of 2008.
Another fearless and effective evangelist, church planter, and pastor
in his war-torn country, Shakir (pronounced 'Shah-keer') has a
tremendous passion to care for the poor and needy, preach the
gospel - especially in villages and rural areas - and help young converts
from Islam study the Bible and become fully devoted followers of Jesus
Christ. But this was not always the case. Indeed, how Shakir became a
Christian and entered full-time ministry is one of the most fascinating
testimonies I have personally had the privilege of hearing firsthand.
What's more, spending time with him helped me understand more fully the
theology of the Revivalists.
Our journey to a humanitarian relief project we were doing together was
long and dusty and required our little team, traveling in an old Chevy
Impala, to pass through numerous military checkpoints, each manned by
heavily armed Iraqi soldiers and policemen checking passports and
asking questions, all on high alert for members of al Qaeda and the
Mahdi Army. Along the way, I found myself staring out at a landscape
that was often as barren as the surface of the moon, covered with
rocks, nearly devoid of vegetation, and only scarcely populated. During
a lull in the conversation with an Iraqi in the car whom I had known
for several years, I asked the meek-looking and mild-mannered Pastor
Shakir how he had become a Christ follower and a pastor.
'Were you raised in a Christian home?' I asked through our translator.
'No,' he replied quietly. 'I was raised a Muslim.'
'Really!' I said, a bit startled. 'What did you do before becoming a
'I was a jihad cell commander.'
I gulped. You don't say, I thought. He certainly had my full attention
now. 'Please, tell me your story,' I said eagerly, pulling out my
notebook. Shakir graciously agreed.
He explained that he was born in 1975 to a devout Sunni Muslim family
and that as he grew up he became deeply religious. Even at an early
age, he loved going to the mosque regularly, and by the age of
seventeen, he had joined a secret Radical Islamic movement. He studied
hard and learned quickly, and before long he was teaching the Qur'an in
'My leaders then sent me to a military training camp where I was
trained to use light weapons - pistols, machine guns, and RPGs [rocket
propelled grenades] - against the infidels,' he told me. 'I was so
excited because I wanted to do jihad for God. I was fully convinced
that the Shias and the Christians were blasphemers and that if I killed
them I would be blessed.'
After successfully completing 'Terrorism 101,' Shakir was made a jihad
cell commander and was ordered to quietly recruit other jihadists. 'I
soon had a group of my own followers,' he explained. 'I would put them
through this military training and then help them get jobs in different
government offices and other shops and businesses so they could spy for
me and be in position to do great damage when we launched the overthrow
of Saddam and his regime.'
One day, one of Shakir's Radical Muslim disciples came to him and said
that someone was distributing Bibles to everyone in the machine shop
where he worked. The disciple was very angry and told Shakir that he
had cursed out everyone in the shop, collected all the Bibles, and
promptly destroyed them. All but one.
'He brought one Bible - a New Testament - to me and said I should read it
and see how to react to it and counter it,' Shakir explained. He said
he praised his disciple for acting quickly and decisively. Then he sent
the disciple away and took the Bible home, and that night he began to
read the Gospel according to Matthew.
'I read the book very fervently to find all the blasphemies and
corruption,' Shakir said. 'But I discovered the words started affecting
my mind, and my heart started changing. These were powerful words, not
human words. They seemed to me like God's words. But I thought, 'How
could this be?''
Shakir became deeply troubled. He kept reading through Matthew but was
ashamed of himself because rather than finding fault with these
Christian Scriptures, he found himself completely intrigued. He had so
many questions. But whom could he ask? He couldn't very well start
discussing the life and teachings of Jesus with the members of the
terrorist cell group he was leading. He couldn't very well ask
questions of the terrorist leaders above him. He didn't dare seek out
any Christians. So night after night he kept reading the Gospels,
searching for answers. The more he did, the more troubled and anxious
'After reading the Bible in a deep way, I began comparing it with the
Qur'an,' he told me. 'I was so confused, and in my confusion, I began
pleading with God, 'Please show me Yourself.' I begged God, 'Please,
show me the right way - is it the Qur'an or the Bible?''
This went on for several nights.
'One night,' he said, 'I was really pleading with God fervently to show
me the true, straight path. And that night I had a dream. I found
myself standing on the side of a road. There was a large crowd gathered
on both sides of the road, and they were cheering and very excited. And
I realized that they were awaiting a parade to go by. So I looked down
the road to see who was coming, and I saw many prophets riding on
horses coming towards us. Suddenly Jonah was riding by. And then David.
And Abraham. And Moses - riding on high, strong horses. Everyone was
cheering and I was cheering. It was so exciting to see these prophets.'
Shakir kept waiting for Muhammad to come riding by as well, but
Muhammad never came. He was not in the parade of prophets. Instead,
Shakir said that 'at the end of the procession, I saw another person
riding, but He was riding on a donkey instead of a horse. He was
wearing a white robe, and His face was covered by a white shroud. When
this person approached, for some reason I heard myself calling out to
Him and asking, 'Are you Jesus?' Like I said, His face was covered by a
white cloth. So I couldn't really see His face at that moment. But when
He heard my question, the man pulled the cloth away from His face and
smiled at me and nodded yes.
'Something came from His face that filled me with a joy I had never
felt in my whole life. I started shouting, 'I saw Jesus! I saw Jesus!'
I was so happy and so joyful and I was laughing. But as soon as I woke
up, I realized that my pillowcase and my sheets were all wet around my
head. I realized that at some point during my dream I had been
crying - sobbing - in shame for all of my sins, for all of my hatred.'
Shakir said he found himself overcome with the realization that he had
been so wrong about God, about Islam, about terrorism. He also found
himself incredibly grateful and humbled that Jesus would come and
rescue him and forgive him of all of his sins and set him on the true
path to heaven.
'I felt a strong joy, and I wanted to find my Muslim disciples and tell
them that I loved them and that Jesus loved them,' Shakir explained.
'After that dream, my life was completely changed. I was eager to
evangelize - to tell people about the love of Jesus Christ. I couldn't
hide that joy. The more I read of the Gospels, the more I felt I had to
tell people about this love of God, even people that I had hated. This
was not easy. I was mocked and persecuted by many. Once I was beaten by
eight people. I was nearly assassinated three times. But it is okay.
Since I came to know the Lord Jesus as my Savior, I am ready to put my
life - and my family - as a sacrifice for Jesus.'
What a remarkable transformation, I thought as Shakir finished his
story. He seemed to be thinking the same thing, for when our time was
up and the interview was over, Shakir stood up, looked me straight in
the eye, and without any expression on his face said, 'Joel, you are
very lucky.''Yes, I think that's true,' I said. 'But why do you say
He took a deep breath. 'Because if I had met you in 1993, I would have
killed you immediately.'
My pulse quickened, and then he added, 'But now you are my brother in
Jesus, and I love you!'
A huge smile flashed across his face. He threw his arms around me and
gave me a bear hug. I breathed a big sigh of relief, and - laughing - gave
him a hug as well.