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…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…Their feet run to evil, and they make haste to shed innocent blood…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. Therefore justice is far from us…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….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. Then the LORD saw it, and it displeased Him that there was no justice.
–Isaiah 59:1-4,7-9, 11-12, 14-15 (NKJV)
In case you had doubts that the commands for upright living and relationship with the Lord in yesterday’s passage actually connected to justice, today’s passage should provide greater clarity.
The Scripture quoted above uses the word “justice” throughout, speaking specifically to the lack of justice.
Because the people “conceive evil and bring forth iniquity;” because “their feet run to evil” and “they have made themselves crooked paths;” because their “sins testify against” them – for these reasons, “justice is turned back, and righteousness stands afar off.”
In this same vein, because of the people’s iniquities, they have been separated from God. Nothing is as it was meant to be.
The people’s iniquities of shedding innocent blood and speaking lies are included in Jeremiah 7’s list of “detestable things.” And as in Jeremiah 7:15, because of the evil path they have chosen, the Lord says, “I will thrust you from my presence.”
If the people want equity, peace, truth, and justice, then they must return to the Lord and walk in His ways.
The Lord’s commands are not meant to oppress – they are meant to bring freedom, peace, and enjoyment of relationships through the right ordering of society.
If this is what we long for, then we long for the Lord.