Therefore, thus says the Holy One of Israel, “Because you despise this word and trust in oppression and perverseness and rely on them, therefore this iniquity shall be to you like a breach in a high wall, bulging out and about to collapse, whose breaking comes suddenly, in an instant. Isaiah 30:12-13 ESV
“Iniquity” (Heb. ‘awon) is the second of the three most frequently used words in the Old Testament to describe human deviation from Yahweh’s expectations for us. It is the most difficult to define precisely. Perhaps that is one of the reasons the English equivalent has almost completely disappeared from contemporary usage.
English dictionaries define iniquity as “a grossly immoral act.” According to the Oxford English Dictionary it first appeared in English in 1275 in a psalter, where it was simply a transliteration of the Latin iniquitas which can be translated as “injustice.”
When we look at how the word is used in the Old Testament, it seems to define the objective results of sin. That is, when we sin, something comes into existence that cannot be simply ignored. Thus, it can be defined in some cases as “guilt.” Have you ever had someone say to you when they have abused you in some way, “Oh, I didn’t mean anything by that. I’m sorry; just get over it.” It’s not that simple, is it?
In the passage above, oppression and perverseness has brought a situation into existence that cannot be just overlooked. It must be treated in some way. It is as though water has seeped into a wall, dissolving the mortar, with the result that the stones are beginning to bulge outward. Unless something is done to repair that situation very quickly the wall is going to fall. So it is with sin in all its manifestations. It is not merely “on paper.” It alters relationships; it sets in motion a chain of events that must be addressed; it brings into being a new reality.
This is where the death of Christ comes into the picture. He is the “repairer of the breaches” (Amos 9:11). He comes to heal the wounds, to take into himself the objective results of what we have done. Do not believe that when we deviate from God’s plans and goals for us, that is just an internal, subjective matter. It is not. It is a tear in the fabric of existence, a tear that requires blood to mend it.