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Isaiah 59:16

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

And wondered that there was no intercessor - This and the following verses some of the most eminent rabbins understand as spoken of the Messiah. Kimchi says that Rabbi Joshua ben Levi proposes this objection: "It is written, 'Behold, he will come in the clouds of heaven as the son of man,' Daniel 7:13; and elsewhere it is written, 'He cometh lowly, and riding upon an ass,' Zechariah 9:9. How can these texts be reconciled? Thus: If the Jews have merit, he will come unto them in the clouds of heaven; but if they be destitute of merit, he will come unto them riding upon an ass." Now out of their own mouth they may be condemned. They were truly destitute of all merit when Jesus Christ came into Jerusalem riding upon an ass, according to the letter of the above prophecy; and they neither acknowledged nor received him. And that they were destitute of merit their destruction by the Romans, which shortly followed their rejection of him, sufficiently proves.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

And he saw that there was no man - That is, no wise and prudent man qualified to govern the affairs of the people. Or, that there was no man qualified to interpose and put an end to these evils; no one qualified to effect a reformation, and to save the nation from the calamities which their sins deserved. The reason why God provided a Redeemer was, that such was the extent and nature of human depravity, that no one on earth could arrest it, and save the world. A similar expression occurs in Isaiah 41:28.

And wondered - This is language adapted to the mode of speaking among men. It cannot be taken literally, as if God was amazed by suddenly coming to the knowledge of this fact. It is designed to express, with great emphasis, the truth, that there was no one to intercede, and that the wicked world was lying in a helpless condition.

That there was no intercessor - On the meaning of the word here rendered ‹intercessor,‘ see the notes at Isaiah 53:6. The Chaldee renders it, ‹There was no man who could stand and pray for them.‘ In Isaiah 63:5, Isaiah expresses the idea in the following language: I looked, and there was none to help; and I wondered that there was none to uphold.‘

Therefore his arm - On the meaning of this phrase, see the notes at Isaiah 40:10 (compare Isaiah 51:5; Isaiah 63:5). The idea is, that salvation was to be traced to God alone. It did not originate with man, and it was not accomplished by his agency or help.

And his righteousness, it sustained him - Sustained by the consciousness that he was doing right, he went forward against all opposition, and executed his plan. This is language derived from the mode of speaking among people, and it means that as a man who is engaged in a righteous cause is sustained amidst much opposition by the consciousness of integrity, so it is with God. The cause of redemption is the great cause of righteousness on earth. In this cause the Redeemer was sustained by the consciousness that he was engaged in that which was designed to vindicate the interests of truth and justice, and to promote righteousness throughout the universe.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
This passage is connected with the following chapters. It is generally thought to describe the coming of the Messiah, as the Avenger and Deliverer of his church. There was none to intercede with God to turn away his wrath; none to interpose for the support of justice and truth. Yet He engaged his own strength and righteousness for his people. God will make his justice upon the enemies of his church and people plainly appear. When the enemy threatens to bear down all without control, then the Spirit of the Lord shall stop him, put him to flight. He that has delivered, will still deliver. A far more glorious salvation is promised to be wrought out by the Messiah in the fulness of time, which all the prophets had in view. The Son of God shall come to us to be our Redeemer; the Spirit of God shall come to be our Sanctifier: thus the Comforter shall abide with the church for ever, Joh 14:16. The word of Christ will always continue in the mouths of the faithful; and whatever is pretended to be the mind of the Spirit, must be tried by the Scriptures. We must lament the progress of infidelity and impiety. But the cause of the Redeemer shall gain a complete victory even on earth, and the believer will be more than conqueror when the Lord receives him to his glory in heaven.
Ellen G. White
SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 4 (EGW), 1153

13-17 (Revelation 12:17). Satan Setting Trained Agents at Work—The condition of the world at the time of Christ is well described by the prophet Isaiah. He says that the people were found “transgressing and lying against the Lord, and departing away from our God.” [Isaiah 59:13-17 quoted.] 4BC 1153.1

The condition of the world previous to the first appearing of Christ is a picture of the condition of the world just previous to His second advent. The same iniquity will exist, Satan manifests the same delusive power upon the minds of men. He is setting his trained agents at work, and moving them to intense activity. He is securing his army of human agents to engage in the last conflict against the Prince of life, to overthrow the law of God, which is the foundation of His throne. Satan will work with miraculous presentations to confirm men in the belief that he is what he claims to be,—the prince of this world, and that victory is his. He will turn his forces against those who are loyal to God, but though he may cause pain, distress, and human agony, he cannot defile the soul. He may cause affliction to the people of God as he did to Christ, but he cannot cause one of Christ's little ones to perish. The people of God in these last days must expect to enter into the thick of the conflict; for the prophetic Word says, “The dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ” (Letter 43, 1895). 4BC 1153.2

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 358-9

I have a message for you: “Seek ye the Lord while He may be found, call ye upon Him while He is near: let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and He will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon. For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: so shall My word be that goeth forth out of My mouth: it shall not return unto Me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.” TM 358.1

“Judgment is turned away backward, and justice standeth afar off: for truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter. Yea, truth faileth; and he that departeth from evil maketh himself a prey: and the Lord saw it, and it displeased Him that there was no judgment. And He saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor: therefore His arm brought salvation unto Him; and His righteousness, it sustained Him. For He put on righteousness as a breastplate, and an helmet of salvation upon His head; and He put on the garments of vengeance for clothing, and was clad with zeal as a cloak.... So shall they fear the name of the Lord from the west, and His glory from the rising of the sun. When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him. And the Redeemer shall come to Zion, and unto them that turn from transgression in Jacob, saith the Lord.” TM 358.2

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Ellen G. White
The Great Controversy, 649

In all ages the Saviour's chosen have been educated and disciplined in the school of trial. They walked in narrow paths on earth; they were purified in the furnace of affliction. For Jesus’ sake they endured opposition, hatred, calumny. They followed Him through conflicts sore; they endured self-denial and experienced bitter disappointments. By their own painful experience they learned the evil of sin, its power, its guilt, its woe; and they look upon it with abhorrence. A sense of the infinite sacrifice made for its cure humbles them in their own sight and fills their hearts with gratitude and praise which those who have never fallen cannot appreciate. They love much because they have been forgiven much. Having been partakers of Christ's sufferings, they are fitted to be partakers with Him of His glory. GC 649.1

The heirs of God have come from garrets, from hovels, from dungeons, from scaffolds, from mountains, from deserts, from the caves of the earth, from the caverns of the sea. On earth they were “destitute, afflicted, tormented.” Millions went down to the grave loaded with infamy because they steadfastly refused to yield to the deceptive claims of Satan. By human tribunals they were adjudged the vilest of criminals. But now “God is judge Himself.” Psalm 50:6. Now the decisions of earth are reversed. “The rebuke of His people shall He take away.” Isaiah 25:8. “They shall call them, The holy people, The redeemed of the Lord.” He hath appointed “to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.” Isaiah 62:12; 61:3. They are no longer feeble, afflicted, scattered, and oppressed. Henceforth they are to be ever with the Lord. They stand before the throne clad in richer robes than the most honored of the earth have ever worn. They are crowned with diadems more glorious than were ever placed upon the brow of earthly monarchs. The days of pain and weeping are forever ended. The King of glory has wiped the tears from all faces; every cause of grief has been removed. Amid the waving of palm branches they pour forth a song of praise, clear, sweet, and harmonious; every voice takes up the strain, until the anthem swells through the vaults of heaven: “Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb.” And all the inhabitants of heaven respond in the ascription: “Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honor, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever.” Revelation 7:10, 12. GC 650.1

In this life we can only begin to understand the wonderful theme of redemption. With our finite comprehension we may consider most earnestly the shame and the glory, the life and the death, the justice and the mercy, that meet in the cross; yet with the utmost stretch of our mental powers we fail to grasp its full significance. The length and the breadth, the depth and the height, of redeeming love are but dimly comprehended. The plan of redemption will not be fully understood, even when the ransomed see as they are seen and know as they are known; but through the eternal ages new truth will continually unfold to the wondering and delighted mind. Though the griefs and pains and temptations of earth are ended and the cause removed, the people of God will ever have a distinct, intelligent knowledge of what their salvation has cost. GC 651.1

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Ellen G. White
Prophets and Kings, 692

These portrayals of the bitter suffering and cruel death of the Promised One, sad though they were, were rich in promise; for of Him whom “it pleased the Lord to bruise” and to put to grief, in order that He might become “an offering for sin,” Jehovah declared: PK 692.1

“He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days,
And the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand.
He shall see of the travail of His soul, and shall be satisfied:
PK 692.2

“By His knowledge shall My righteous Servant justify many;
For He shall bear their iniquities.
Therefore will I divide Him a portion with the great,
And He shall divide the spoil with the strong;
Because He hath poured out His soul unto death:
And He was numbered with the transgressors;
And He bare the sin of many,
And made intercession for the transgressors.”
PK 692.3

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Ellen G. White
Reflecting Christ, 119.6

Do not feel at all ashamed of the heart softening under the movings of the Holy Spirit. Let Jesus come in as He knocks for entrance and then appreciate Him, rejoice in heart, encourage a constant gratitude that while you felt that there was no arm to save, His arm brought salvation, His love was made apparent to you. Then when in the full joy of that love you presented Jesus to others, the Holy Spirit was working through you ... to bless others.... It is the privilege of everyone who receives the Spirit of truth to represent the truth in its simplicity, to reach the hearts of the perplexed, trembling souls who are really bewildered.... He knows how to apply the balm.... RC 119.6

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 2, 212

When men and women can more fully comprehend the magnitude of the great sacrifice which was made by the Majesty of heaven in dying in man's stead, then will the plan of salvation be magnified, and reflections of Calvary will awaken tender, sacred, and lively emotions in the Christian's heart. Praises to God and the Lamb will be in their hearts and upon their lips. Pride and self-esteem cannot flourish in the hearts that keep fresh in memory the scenes of Calvary. This world will appear of but little value to those who appreciate the great price of man's redemption, the precious blood of God's dear Son. All the riches of the world are not of sufficient value to redeem one perishing soul. Who can measure the love Christ felt for a lost world as He hung upon the cross, suffering for the sins of guilty men? This love was immeasurable, infinite. 2T 212.1

Christ has shown that His love was stronger than death. He was accomplishing man's salvation; and although He had the most fearful conflict with the powers of darkness, yet, amid it all, His love grew stronger and stronger. He endured the hiding of His Father's countenance, until He was led to exclaim in the bitterness of His soul: “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” His arm brought salvation. The price was paid to purchase the redemption of man, when, in the last soul struggle, the blessed words were uttered which seemed to resound through creation: “It is finished.” 2T 212.2

Many who profess to be Christians become excited over worldly enterprises, and their interest is awakened for new and exciting amusements, while they are coldhearted, and appear as if frozen, in the cause of God. Here is a theme, poor formalist, which is of sufficient importance to excite you. Eternal interests are here involved. Upon this theme it is sin to be calm and unimpassioned. The scenes of Calvary call for the deepest emotion. Upon this subject you will be excusable if you manifest enthusiasm. That Christ, so excellent, so innocent, should suffer such a painful death, bearing the weight of the sins of the world, our thoughts and imaginations can never fully comprehend. The length, the breadth, the height, the depth, of such amazing love we cannot fathom. The contemplation of the matchless depths of a Saviour's love should fill the mind, touch and melt the soul, refine and elevate the affections, and completely transform the whole character. The language of the apostle is: “I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.” We also may look toward Calvary and exclaim: “God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.” 2T 212.3

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 8, 25

Think of the horror of human beings dying because those placed in charge of the means of relief proved unfaithful to their trust. It is difficult for us to realize that man could be guilty of so terrible a sin. Yet I am instructed to say to you, my brother, my sister, that Christians are daily repeating this sin. 8T 25.1

In Eden, man fell from his high estate and through transgression became subject to death. It was seen in heaven that human beings were perishing, and the compassion of God was stirred. At infinite cost He devised a means of relief. He “so loved the world, that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16. There was no hope for the transgressor except through Christ. God saw that “there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor: therefore His arm brought salvation unto Him; and His righteousness, it sustained Him.” Isaiah 59:16. 8T 25.2

The Lord chose a people and made them the depositories of His truth. It was His purpose that by the revelation of His character through Israel, men should be drawn to Him. To all the world the gospel invitation was to be given. Through the teaching of the sacrificial service, Christ was to be uplifted before the nations, and all who would look unto Him should live. 8T 25.3

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