Isaiah 59:1-2 (ESV Strong’s Bible)
1 Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, or his ear dull, that it cannot hear;
The word shortened is a Hebrew word called “qasar”, a verb which means to shorten or to become impatient. It has a sense of holding back. The word save is a Hebrew word “yasa”, a verb meaning to help, deliver or to defend. It has an underlying idea of bringing to a place of safety. So, what the verse is saying here is that the hand of God is not too short that it cannot reach out to people and bring them to a place of safety. Isaiah is giving a message to Israel that although they are living in sin and on their way to eternal condemnation, God’s hand is ready and able to bring them all to salvation. To save them from eternal judgement.
Isaiah tells them that God’s ear is not dull that He cannot hear them when they call out to him for repentance. Isaiah says in Isaiah 65:24 that even before they call, God will answer and while they are speaking, God will hear. In Isaiah 30:19, Isaiah says as soon as God hears, He answers and 58:9, Isaiah says when they call on God, He will answer and when they cry, God says, here I am. So, clearly God is in a position not only to hear their prayers and cries but He also reacts and answeres their prayers and avails Himslef when they cry. He is a good Father. God will hear Israel when they call out and God will be able to bring them to salvation.
God is making the same call to us today that, even though we live in abundance of evil, even though we have allowed ourselves to be consumed with evil, God will hear our call for repentance. His hand is not too short to bring us to a place of safety, to bring us salvation. If we truly and genuinely call upon God and ask for forgiveness and promise him that we will forsake those sins and live a life that shows that we have truly forsaken those sins, God will hear us and He will bring us to salvation.
2 but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear.
Indeed God will hear their call for repentance and He will bring them to a place of safety but, yes, there is a but, but, their iniquities have made a separation between God and Israel. The word iniquities is a Hebrew word “awon” a noun that indicates sin that is particularly evil since it conveys the idea of sinning deliberately. It carries along the idea of guilt from conscious wrongdoing. In other words, it says, you know that it is wrong and you do it anyway. Now, Israel was involved in this kind of sin. They knew God’s laws but they were breaking the law anyway. It is this behaviour that Isaiah says has created a seperation between God and them. Deliberate sinning puts a barrier between God and yourself.
Isaiah says that their sins has hidden God’s face from them so that He does not hear them. The word sins here as opposed to iniquities refers to a general state of sinfulness. It carries an idea of living a life of sin. This has caused God’s face to be hidden so that He cannot hear.
So, there are two things here, deliberate sinning has put a barrier between God and Israel and a continuous life of sin has hidden God’s face so that He cannot hear them when the pray or call upon Him.
So, on one hand God will hear Israel when they call out and God will be able to bring them to salvation, but on the other Israel’s deliberate sinning and their continuing sinful life has both put a barrier between God and them and also has hidden God’s face so that He cannot hear them. Isaiah in 64:6 told Israel that their iniquities were taking them away from God like the wind. Jeremiah in 5:25 repeated basically what is been said in Isaiah 59:2 above that the iniquities have turned God’s blessings away from them and their sins have kept good away from them. The consequences of this deliberate sinful living is that God will not listen, since He does not listen to sinners (Psa 66:18). God will not and cannot listen to sinners because of our deliberate sinning and sinful lifestyles.
The same thing applies to us. We are living such a sinful life full of evil and we are doing this deliberately. We all know what God wants. We all know what the laws of God are because, His laws are written in our hearts (Jer 31). Even though we know this, we deliberately continue to live a sinful life. This therefore seperates us from God and hides God’s face from us so that he does not hear when we call upon him. So, next time when you pray and you see that your prayers are not answered, the first thing that you do is point a finger at yourself, not God. Look at your life. Your deliberate sinful life could be the reason why your prayers are not answered. Repent from your ways and put your trust in Jesus and God will hear your prayers and He will answer them.