Hopelessness is a concept that seems to pervade our culture. Almost everywhere we look it certainly appears that the condition of our nation is hopeless. Almost everyone you listen to, key leaders and public figures are proclaiming gloom and doom. Fortunately, we are not the first nation to experience this condition, and although I am not dismissing the deplorable condition of our nation, I simply want to inject two words—But God.
Just when it seemed that all hope was lost for Israel, Isaiah declares that “A Redeemer will come to Zion.” Isaiah even prophesies about the eternal implications of the Redeemer's actions, as God promises to not just restore Jerusalem, but to make Jerusalem the holy city that will draw people from around the world. For the Jew, this is an undeniable demonstration of God’s favor and affirmation of His abiding presence with His people. But all that pales in comparison to the declaration of chapter 61 that one would come, with the unmistakable anointing of God’s Spirit, to declare good news to the afflicted and liberty to the captive, to comfort those that mourn and declare everlasting joy to the redeemed.
Now, obviously we are not Israel, but the principle is very much the same. Regardless of how bleak the condition of our nation is, or may become, our Father is faithful in acting on behalf of those that love him, and are called according to His purpose. I pray that these verses not only remind you of the deplorable condition of our country, but that they inspire you to hold tightly to the gracious promises of God.
Isaiah 59–61 (CSB)
1 Indeed, the Lord’s arm is not too weak to save, and his ear is not too deaf to hear. 2 But your iniquities are separating you from your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not listen. 3 For your hands are defiled with blood and your fingers, with iniquity; your lips have spoken lies, and your tongues mutter injustice. 4 No one makes claims justly; no one pleads honestly. They trust in empty and worthless words; they conceive trouble and give birth to iniquity. 5 They hatch viper’s eggs and weave spider’s webs. Whoever eats their eggs will die; crack one open, and a viper is hatched. 6 Their webs cannot become clothing, and they cannot cover themselves with their works. Their works are sinful works, and violent acts are in their hands. 7 Their feet run after evil, and they rush to shed innocent blood. Their thoughts are sinful thoughts; ruin and wretchedness are in their paths. 8 They have not known the path of peace, and there is no justice in their ways. They have made their roads crooked; no one who walks on them will know peace. 9 Therefore justice is far from us, and righteousness does not reach us. We hope for light, but there is darkness; for brightness, but we live in the night. 10 We grope along a wall like the blind; we grope like those without eyes. We stumble at noon as though it were twilight; we are like the dead among those who are healthy. 11 We all growl like bears and moan like doves. We hope for justice, but there is none; for salvation, but it is far from us. 12 For our transgressions have multiplied before you, and our sins testify against us. For our transgressions are with us, and we know our iniquities: 13 transgression and deception against the Lord, turning away from following our God, speaking oppression and revolt, conceiving and uttering lying words from the heart. 14 Justice is turned back, and righteousness stands far off. For truth has stumbled in the public square, and honesty cannot enter. 15 Truth is missing, and whoever turns from evil is plundered. The Lord saw that there was no justice, and he was offended. 16 He saw that there was no man— he was amazed that there was no one interceding; so his own arm brought salvation, and his own righteousness supported him. 17 He put on righteousness as body armor, and a helmet of salvation on his head; he put on garments of vengeance for clothing, and he wrapped himself in zeal as in a cloak. 18 So he will repay according to their deeds: fury to his enemies, retribution to his foes, and he will repay the coasts and islands. 19 They will fear the name of the Lord in the west and his glory in the east; for he will come like a rushing stream driven by the wind of the Lord. 20 “The Redeemer will come to Zion, and to those in Jacob who turn from transgression.” This is the Lord’s declaration. 21 “As for me, this is my covenant with them,” says the Lord: “My Spirit who is on you, and my words that I have put in your mouth, will not depart from your mouth, or from the mouths of your children, or from the mouths of your children’s children, from now on and forever,” says the Lord.
1 Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord shines over you. 2 For look, darkness will cover the earth, and total darkness the peoples; but the Lord will shine over you, and his glory will appear over you. 3 Nations will come to your light, and kings to your shining brightness. 4 Raise your eyes and look around: they all gather and come to you; your sons will come from far away, and your daughters on the hips of nannies. 5 Then you will see and be radiant, and your heart will tremble and rejoice, because the riches of the sea will become yours and the wealth of the nations will come to you. 6 Caravans of camels will cover your land— young camels of Midian and Ephah— all of them will come from Sheba. They will carry gold and frankincense and proclaim the praises of the Lord. 7 All the flocks of Kedar will be gathered to you; the rams of Nebaioth will serve you and go up on my altar as an acceptable sacrifice. I will glorify my beautiful house. 8 Who are these who fly like a cloud, like doves to their shelters? 9 Yes, the coasts and islands will wait for me with the ships of Tarshish in the lead, to bring your children from far away, their silver and gold with them, for the honor of the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, who has glorified you. 10 Foreigners will rebuild your walls, and their kings will serve you. Although I struck you in my wrath, yet I will show mercy to you with my favor. 11 Your city gates will always be open; they will never be shut day or night so that the wealth of the nations may be brought into you, with their kings being led in procession. 12 For the nation and the kingdom that will not serve you will perish; those nations will be annihilated. 13 The glory of Lebanon will come to you— its pine, elm, and cypress together— to beautify the place of my sanctuary, and I will glorify my dwelling place. 14 The sons of your oppressors will come and bow down to you; all who reviled you will fall facedown at your feet. They will call you the City of the Lord, Zion of the Holy One of Israel. 15 Instead of your being deserted and hated, with no one passing through, I will make you an object of eternal pride, a joy from age to age. 16 You will nurse on the milk of nations, and nurse at the breast of kings; you will know that I, the Lord, am your Savior and Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob. 17 I will bring gold instead of bronze; I will bring silver instead of iron, bronze instead of wood, and iron instead of stones. I will appoint peace as your government and righteousness as your overseers. 18 Violence will never again be heard of in your land; devastation and destruction will be gone from your borders. You will call your walls Salvation and your city gates Praise. 19 The sun will no longer be your light by day, and the brightness of the moon will not shine on you. The Lord will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your splendor. 20 Your sun will no longer set, and your moon will not fade; for the Lord will be your everlasting light, and the days of your sorrow will be over. 21 All your people will be righteous; they will possess the land forever; they are the branch I planted, the work of my hands, so that I may be glorified. 22 The least will become a thousand, the smallest a mighty nation. I am the Lord; I will accomplish it quickly in its time.
1 The Spirit of the Lord God is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and freedom to the prisoners; 2 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of our God’s vengeance; to comfort all who mourn, 3 to provide for those who mourn in Zion; to give them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, festive oil instead of mourning, and splendid clothes instead of despair. And they will be called righteous trees, planted by the Lord to glorify him. 4 They will rebuild the ancient ruins; they will restore the former devastations; they will renew the ruined cities, the devastations of many generations. 5 Strangers will stand and feed your flocks, and foreigners will be your plowmen and vinedressers. 6 But you will be called the Lord’s priests; they will speak of you as ministers of our God; you will eat the wealth of the nations, and you will boast in their riches. 7 In place of your shame, you will have a double portion; in place of disgrace, they will rejoice over their share. So they will possess double in their land, and eternal joy will be theirs. 8 For I the Lord love justice; I hate robbery and injustice; I will faithfully reward my people and make a permanent covenant with them. 9 Their descendants will be known among the nations, and their posterity among the peoples. All who see them will recognize that they are a people the Lord has blessed. 10 I rejoice greatly in the Lord, I exult in my God; for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation and wrapped me in a robe of righteousness, as a groom wears a turban and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. 11 For as the earth produces its growth, and as a garden enables what is sown to spring up, so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring up before all the nations.