Isaiah 1

 

The first chapter of Isaiah serves as an introduction to the prophecies of this book. Though Isaiah does mention other nations, as verse 1 points out, the main focus of his prophecies revolve around Judah and Jerusalem itself.

 

A brief outline of the chapter is as follows:

1 Ė Judah and Jerusalem are the focus of the prophecies

2-15 Ė The corrupt condition of their nation and city are described and their worship is condemned.

16-20 Ė God offers them a call to repentance.

21-31 Ė Announcement of the coming judgment of Judah and Jerusalem.

 

Isaiah 1:1 The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah.

 

As I said last week, the Bible tells us nothing about Amoz, but tradition says that Amoz was a brother of Amaziah, the son of Joash, king of Judah (2 Kin 14:1). This would make Isaiah a close relative to those who were kings during his lifetime, and would explain his close association with kings and priests and his involvement with world affairs.

 

We are not told all the ways that God revealed His message to Isaiah, but one way was through visions. Most believe the timeline of his prophecies spanned around 50 years (739-690 B.C.).

 

Isaiah 1:2 Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth! For the LORD has spoken: "I have nourished and brought up children, And they have rebelled against Me;3 The ox knows its owner And the donkey its master's crib; But Israel does not know, My people do not consider."

There are different approaches one can take to get the message of God across. Sometimes we might use a story to get someone to see the sin the person is guilty of, which usually is the same sin or a similar sin the person is guilty of. One might start out saying good things about the person, but then follow it up with something like, ďbut, you know that this thing you are doing it is a sin.Ē Then there is the direct approach like Isaiah is using here. His people knew better, but they were being rebellious, so he calls on heaven and earth as his witness and rebukes them sharply.

 

He make a comparison between an animal and His people. He basically says that animal is smarter than they are right now because animal knows his owner and respects him. It knows that its owner takes care of it, but Godís people do not know Him and they are rejecting Him by being rebellious. They are biting the hand that feeds them. Notice, what he says next:

 

4 Alas, sinful nation, A people laden with iniquity, A brood of evildoers, Children who are corrupters! They have forsaken the LORD, They have provoked to anger The Holy One of Israel, They have turned away backward.

 

Isaiah is telling these people what they need to hear. Yes, it is a hard rebuke, but a hard rebuke is necessary at times.

 

Proverbs 27:5 Open rebuke is better Than love carefully concealed.

 

Some people today have the wrong attitude about correcting the sinner. Some think the only way we should deal with a sinner is by simply loving them and gently trying to lead them out of their sin by our example. While this is one method we can use, I want you to understand there is nothing wrong with a sharp rebuke. In fact, sometimes it necessary to get a personís attention. When we do so, it is not being mean, it is an act of love because we want that person to wake up and recognize their condition. Just because many in our nation have adapted political correctness does not mean that a strong rebuke is to never be done.

 

If we follow the example in the Bible, we usually see these strong rebukes being done to those who know better and have already been encouraged or warned in other ways. So, do not feel like a strong rebuke should never be done.

 

Isaiah 1:5 Why should you be stricken again? You will revolt more and more. The whole head is sick, And the whole heart faints.6 From the sole of the foot even to the head, There is no soundness in it, But wounds and bruises and putrefying sores; They have not been closed or bound up, Or soothed with ointment

 

Godís people were being attacked and oppressed by their enemies because of their rebellion. This chastening was to be their wake up call for their spiritual condition, but they were not waking up. God give a description of their condition by describing a man who had been beat so severely that he is barely alive. Instead of getting help from the right source and taking the measures to heal, Godís people were acting just like a man going around with his wounds exposed allowing himself to become more and more sick.

 

Sometime I wish today we could visual see our spiritual condition. If we could see our hands and feet rotting and body covered with open wounds that stink and getting worse it would be a whole lot easier for us to horrible sin is in our life and how we need to take care of it. Since we cannot visibly see it, some Christians walk around being almost spiritual dead.

 

7 Your country is desolate, Your cities are burned with fire; Strangers devour your land in your presence; And it is desolate, as overthrown by strangers.8 So the daughter of Zion is left as a booth in a vineyard, As a hut in a garden of cucumbers, As a besieged city.9 Unless the LORD of hosts Had left to us a very small remnant, We would have become like Sodom, We would have been made like Gomorrah.

 

Some believe Isaiah is describing some of the things he was seeing happening around him at the time, but others believe that every bit of this is part of his vision of the future. It seems clear to me that he is prophesying about the future downfall of Judah and Jerusalem itself that happened through the Babylonians. The reason I am confident in that is because the only times Jerusalem was besieged and overthrown in the OT time was when Babylon came in and destroyed Jerusalem.

 

In verse 9, he gives the a glimmer of hope to show that they would not be completely wiped out like Sodom and Gomorrah was because God would later allow a remnant of them to return and rebuild.

 

Isaiah 1:10 Hear the word of the LORD, You rulers of Sodom; Give ear to the law of our God, You people of Gomorrah:11 "To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices to Me?" Says the LORD. "I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams And the fat of fed cattle. I do not delight in the blood of bulls, Or of lambs or goats.12 "When you come to appear before Me, Who has required this from your hand, To trample My courts?13 Bring no more futile sacrifices; Incense is an abomination to Me. The New Moons, the Sabbaths, and the calling of assemblies -- I cannot endure iniquity and the sacred meeting.14 Your New Moons and your appointed feasts My soul hates; They are a trouble to Me, I am weary of bearing them.15 When you spread out your hands, I will hide My eyes from you; Even though you make many prayers, I will not hear. Your hands are full of blood.

 

Isaiah is saying that Godís people were so immersed in sin that they are being compared to the level of sinfulness of Sodom and Gomorrah. Can you imagine hearing yourself compared to them knowing what happened to them because of their sins?

 

Though Godís people were living in sin, they were still worshiping God or at least they were doing those things that were commanded to do, such as offering sacrifices and they were keeping the various festivals and other holy days. However, God letís them know that their worship is being done in vain. Why? Because they were drowning in sin and they were just going through the motions because that is what they were used to doing. If there heart was really into God, then they would not be worshipping God while being immersed in sin. He letís them know that He will not hear their prayers because of the sin in their life and He points out how their hands are full of blood because the people they had been killing.

 

You and I should learn this lesson well. God will not accept worship from us if we are full of sin or if we are just going through the motions even though we may be worshiping Him in accordance with His Word. For example, when we partake of the Lordís Supper, we are in fellowship with Jesus and we are to partake of it in remembrance of Him. It is also a time of reflection when we examine our lives and think about how we are to live for Jesus. We cannot live like the world and then come to the Sunday morning service and partake of the Lordsí Supper and think that God is going to be pleased with us. Paul said:

 

1 Corinthians 10:21 You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the Lord's table and of the table of demons.

 

He also made it clear that if one partakes of the Lordís Supper in the wrong way or turns it into something it is not, God will not be pleased with us:

 

1 Corinthians 11:27 Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup.29 For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord's body.

 

In regards to prayer, Peter said:

 

1 Peter 3:12 For the eyes of the LORD are on the righteous, And His ears are open to their prayers; But the face of the LORD is against those who do evil."

Just as God would not hear the prayers of the children of Israel because of their evil ways, the same thing will happen today if we live like the world. God will not hear our prayers. The message is that we cannot have two masters. We cannot serve God on one hand and the world on the other. God is a jealous God and He wants our whole heart, mind, and soul. If we do not give it to Him, He will not be pleased.

 

Isaiah 1:16 "Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; Put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes. Cease to do evil,17 Learn to do good; Seek justice, Rebuke the oppressor; Defend the fatherless, Plead for the widow.

 

God gives them a solution to their problem so that He will hear the prayer and accept their worship. They are wash themselves and make themselves clean. No, He is not telling them to just clean their bodies, He talking about getting the sin out of their life. Not only does He wants them to stop sinning, He wants them do works of righteousness. He wants them to learn to do good, which they can if they will simply follow the will of God. They are to seek justice. Not their own justice, but the justice of God. They are to take a stand against the oppressor by rebuking them and letting them know who their God is. They are to take care of the orphans and widows just like James said:

 

James 1:27 Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.

 

It does not matter what covenant Godís people were under, God gives us many opportunities to make ourselves right with Him, which includes us turning away from sin and by doing works of righteousness.

 

18 " Come now, and let us reason together," Says the LORD, "Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool.19 If you are willing and obedient, You shall eat the good of the land;20 But if you refuse and rebel, You shall be devoured by the sword"; For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.

 

There are those who think we cannot know the Word of God and we cannot understand the way of God, so why try, But God makes it clear that we can reason together. We can read Godís Word and His message and we can see what He has done for us and what He says He will do for us. God has not left us to wonder or be confused about His intentions of His message. This is certainly made clear in the N.T. because we have passages such as:

 

Luke 1:3 it seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write to you an orderly account, most excellent Theophilus,4 that you may know the certainty of those things in which you were instructed.

 

John 20:30 And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book;31 but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.

 

Acts 17:11 These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.

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Ephesians 3:2if indeed you have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which was given to me for you,3 how that by revelation He made known to me the mystery (as I have briefly written already,4 by which, when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ),

 

1 John 5:13 These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.

 

More verses could be used, but verses like these show that we can know what God wants from us and we can understand what we must do to be saved and to remain pleasing to God. Back in our text, God said:

 

"Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool.19 If you are willing and obedient, You shall eat the good of the land;20 But if you refuse and rebel, You shall be devoured by the sword"; For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.

 

Many times people ask the question why Lord. Why did you destroy them, Why did you let this or horrible thing happen. Instead of asking questions like that, we should be asking Why Lord, why do you love us so much? Why do have so much mercy and keep giving us more opportunities than we deserve?


God is letting them know if they will turn from their wicked ways and purify themselves that they will become white as snow, but in order for that to happen they must obey the will of God. Obedience to Godís will has always been in place no matter what covenant you look at. Some today do not like this term obey, it makes them feel like they have to do something. Whether they like it or not, God demands obedience in order to accept His saving grace. 2 Thess. 1:7ff tells us that those who do not obey will face the wrath of God. The writer of Hebrews in Hebrew 5:8-9 says that Jesus the author of salvation to those who obey. Jesus said Himself that if we do not do the will of the Father, we will not make it to heaven Mt. 7:21.

 

So, donít every let anyone fool you into thinking that God does not require obedience. If we love Him and respect what He has done for us, we will have no problem accepting His saving grace through an obedient faith.

 

God has given His people a lifeline. They can choose to turn from their sinful ways and be blessed or they can refuse and be destroyed. It does not seem like a difficult choice, but we know they chose destruction. The question is, what path will we choose?

 

Next, Isaiah describe the current state of His people:

 

Isaiah 1:21 How the faithful city has become a harlot! It was full of justice; Righteousness lodged in it, But now murderers.22 Your silver has become dross, Your wine mixed with water.23 Your princes are rebellious, And companions of thieves; Everyone loves bribes, And follows after rewards. They do not defend the fatherless, Nor does the cause of the widow come before them.

 

These are sad words, but it shows how a nation of Jews could go from being faithful to God to being unfaithful and how easy it is for an entire nation to become corrupt when they turn their backs on God and His wisdom. They had played the harlot with God by getting involved with sinful practices. Instead of serving justice, they are now full of murders. He uses the illustration of un-pure silver and water mixed with wine to show how they have made themselves un-pure and their faith weakened by allowing sin in to their camp. Their leaders are now corrupt and act like thieves and everyone takes care of themselves instead of helping out others. I hate to say it, but the condition of their nation sounds similar to the condition of our nation right now.

 

Isaiah 1:24 Therefore the Lord says, The LORD of hosts, the Mighty One of Israel, "Ah, I will rid Myself of My adversaries, And take vengeance on My enemies.25 I will turn My hand against you, And thoroughly purge away your dross, And take away all your alloy.26 I will restore your judges as at the first, And your counselors as at the beginning. Afterward you shall be called the city of righteousness, the faithful city."27 Zion shall be redeemed with justice, And her penitents with righteousness.28 The destruction of transgressors and of sinners shall be together, And those who forsake the LORD shall be consumed.29 For they shall be ashamed of the terebinth trees Which you have desired; And you shall be embarrassed because of the gardens Which you have chosen.30 For you shall be as a terebinth whose leaf fades, And as a garden that has no water.31 The strong shall be as tinder, And the work of it as a spark; Both will burn together, And no one shall quench them.

 

Isaiah is telling them what is going to happen because of their continual rebellion. They will set themselves up as adversary to God and He will allow them to be destroyed and brought low so that they can later be restored. This is one of those prophecies that blends several future events together. While it predicts the downfall of Judah and Jerusalem and the return of the remnant who end up rebuilding the temple and the walls of Jerusalem, it also points toward the redemption of the new spiritual Israel that would occur under the new covenant thanks to Jesus.

 

After looking at the first chapter, we can see why Isaiah is sometimes called the prophet of doom and deliverance. The chapter starts out with doom, but verse 16-20 offer a promise of deliverance. Then the remaining verses go back to doom with some hope of deliverance mentioned in them. However, the chapter ends with doom, but next week as we begin with chapter 2, we will see it gives one the most detailed prophecies about the Lordís church in the O.T., which is a message of deliverance for all who choose it.

 

Let us learn from this first chapter that God loves us and gives us every opportunity to be right with Him, but this requires us to be obedient to His will. When you are obedient to Godís will because you love Him, then you worship will be acceptable to Him and He will hear your prayers. However, if we choose to rebel, we must understand that God will not be pleased with us and if we continue to rebel till the day we die, then we will be separated from Him for eternity in the pits of hell. We have always had the freedom of choice, I just hope that we will always choose Godís way so that we can be pleasing to Him and enjoy the grace He offers us so that we can spend eternity in heaven.