Chapter 59 of Isaiah's prophecy reminds us, just as it did Israel long ago, that sin is serious and dangerous. In a vivid image about sinners, Isaiah declared, "They hatch vipers' eggs and weave the spider's web" (v.5). As well as these images of poison and entrapment, Isaiah adds that their works reject truth and persecute the righteous, "So truth fails, and he who departs from evil makes himself a prey" (v. 15). The conclusion of the prophet is, "We look for light, but there is darkness! For brightness, but we walk in blackness" (v. 9).
Was this only the case in the bleak days of Isaiah’s prophecy? In Romans 3:15-17, Paul quotes Isaiah 9:7-8 as evidence of the universality of human sin. Truly, "There is none righteous, no, not one; there is none who understands; there is none who seeks after God" (Rom. 3:I0-11).
Our struggle is with the world, the flesh, and the devil - that is, with the sin that surrounds us, with the sin inside of us, and with the father of sin himself. "For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places" (Eph. 6:12).
In light of this grim spiritual reality, who can help and who can take up the battle for the Lord?
The Lord saw that no one could help, "He saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor" (v. 16a). No human can fight our battle. Therefore, the Lord Himself will fight our battle with all of His power, "Therefore His own arm brought salvation for Him" (v. 16b).
Isaiah expresses that power in terms of armor for the Lord (v. 17): a breastplate of righteousness showing His holiness, a helmet of salvation showing His purpose to save, garments of vengeance to show His will to punish the wicked and a cloak of zeal to show His determination . The Lord will surely accomplish the salvation He planned.
We know that God fought the world, the flesh, and the devil, and triumphed in the life, death, and resurrection of His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus fulfilled the prophecy or Isaiah 59:20, '''The Redeemer will come to Zion…'"
The assurance that comes to us from the Gospel is that no matter how pervasive or powerful the forces or sin, God is victorious in winning salvation for His people. Jesus won the war in His first coming and will mop up all resistance in His second coming.
In the meantime, God has promised to arm His people for the continuing battles. In Ephesians 6, Paul took up the image of Isaiah 59 and called on Christians to put on the armor of God, which is not just the armor God provides, but the very armor that God wore. We are assured of the effectiveness of our equipment for battle because God Himself used it successfully.
Not only that, but it fits perfectly for God Himself has fitted the armor for us, "For He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness" (Isa. 61:10b).
God has given us armor that both protects us and enables us to fight the good fight (Eph. 6:14-17). We do indeed have all we need in the very armor of God Himself. God has won the war for us and has equipped us for the battles that remain until Christ returns to make all things new. Let us rejoice in our victorious, saving God!
First published in Tabletalk, November 1999.
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