Prologue: The Starting Point: Part One

Before addressing the subject of biblical meditation, it is worthwhile to examine where we stand with God before conversion.  Believers seek unity with God (and others), something we will discuss in far more detail later on, but we do not begin from a standpoint of unity.  Instead, the ordinary state of mankind is separation from God.  Before we can know how it is possible to enjoy unity with God, we must understand this separation and why it exists.  In that light, therefore, let us examine some of the passages of scripture that point out both the state of separation that exists between God and man and why it exists and also what God does about that to bridge the chasm that exists between mankind and Himself.  Fortunately, this is a subject that the Bible speaks about in some length, so let us examine what the Bible has to say about the separation between God and man and how this separation is bridged.

Isaiah 59 as a whole provides one example of the discussion of the grounds for this separation as well as God’s response to it.  Let us first begin with Isaiah 59:1-8, which discusses why mankind is separated from God:  “Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; nor His ear heavy, that it cannot hear.  But your iniquities have separated you from your God; and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear.  For your hands are defiled with blood, and your fingers with iniquity; your lips have spoken lies, your tongue has muttered perversity.  No one calls for justice, nor does any plead for truth.  They trust in empty words and speak lies; they conceive evil and bring forth iniquity. They hatch vipers’ eggs and weave the spider’s web; he who eats of their eggs dies, and from that which is crushed a viper breaks out.  Their webs will not become garments, nor will they cover themselves with their works; their works are works of iniquity, and the act of violence is in their hands.  Their 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.  The way of peace they have not known, and there is no justice in their ways; they have made themselves crooked paths; whoever takes that way shall not know peace.”

In examining this passage we see a thorough discussion of evil and the clear statement that the sins of mankind separate us from God and prevent Him from hearing our prayers because He cannot stand the presence of evil.  Moreover, it is not just any evil that Isaiah speaks here as separating mankind from God, but the sort of evil that ought to be very familiar to our contemporary generation, evil that involves the shedding of innocent blood, the way that our sins and violence defile our hands with blood, often the blood of our own sons and daughters.  Isaiah speaks here of no one calling for justice on behalf of the slain innocent, nor of truth being sought, but rather comfort being sought in lies that will prevent the full recognition of sin that precedes repentance.  And the Bible’s verdict on such ways is clear that those who seek the way of violence and injustice will not know peace.  This is the sort of lesson we should all take to heart.

Continuing on, Isaiah 59:9-15a demonstrates the sadness of those who live in such a wicked society as our own:  “Therefore justice is far from us, nor does righteousness overtake us; we look for light, but there is darkness!  For brightness, but we walk in blackness!  We grope for the wall like the blind, and we grope as if we had no eyes;
We stumble at noonday as at twilight; we are as dead men in desolate places.  We all growl like bears, and moan sadly like doves; we look for justice, but there is none; for salvation, but it is far from us.  For our transgressions are multiplied before You, and our sins testify against us; for our transgressions are with us, and as for our iniquities, we know them: in transgressing and lying against the Lord, and departing from our God, speaking oppression and revolt, conceiving and uttering from the heart words of falsehood.  Justice is turned back, and righteousness stands afar off; for truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter.  So truth fails,and he who departs from evil makes himself a prey.”  Here Isaiah reports the sadness of a society that realizes that it cannot save itself, that its sins are known by God, its rebellions recognized by God, and that even if these sins are recognized by the society’s prophets that the society is incapable of finding God on its own.  The prophet also recognizes that those who depart from evil in such a wicked society make themselves a pray for the many evildoers that exist in that society, which discourages people from confessing their sins and departing from them, because it makes them a likely target for the violence of the age.  Again, this is the sort of problem that our contemporary age deals with as well, and in the mourning of Isaiah for his own society’s sins he speaks about our own evil age as well.

What is telling is God’s response in Isaiah 59:15b-21:  “Then the Lord saw it, and it displeased Him that there was no justice.  He saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor; therefore His own arm brought salvation for Him; and His own righteousness, it sustained Him.  For He put on righteousness as a breastplate,and a helmet of salvation on His head; He put on the garments of vengeance for clothing, and was clad with zeal as a cloak.  According to their deeds, accordingly He will repay, fury to His adversaries, recompense to His enemies; the coastlands He will fully repay.  So shall they fear the name of the Lord from the west, and His glory from the rising of the sun; when the enemy comes in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord will lift up a standard against him.  “The Redeemer will come to Zion, and to those who turn from transgression in Jacob,” says the Lord.  “As for Me,” says the Lord, “this is My covenant with them: My Spirit who is upon you, and My words which I have put in your mouth, shall not depart from your mouth, nor from the mouth of your descendants, nor from the mouth of your descendants’ descendants,” says the Lord, “from this time and forevermore.””  Given that mankind cannot save itself from the justice of God, even when we acknowledge our sins, it is worthwhile to note that salvation must come from God, ultimately through Jesus Christ.  It is God who provides the bridge to mankind to allow for a reconciliation with Him.  And is through that reconciliation we have access to His Holy Spirit and the promise that the words of God will not depart from our mouths, and it is that which allows us to engage in the process of biblical meditation in the first place.

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in Bible, Biblical History, Biblical Meditation, Book Reviews, Christianity, History, Musings and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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