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Janet's Corner

Home | 2006-2007 | 2005-2006 | 2004-2005

Isaiah -- A Way Out in the Midst of Warnings

Isaiah: The Salvation of the Lord (Gospel of the Old Testament)

Theme: We are signs and symbols…an oak of righteousness a planting of the Lord to display his splendor. (Isaiah 8:18; 61:3b)

 

I.   Condemnation:   chapters 1-39                      

    A. Messages of Warning and Promise for Judah          (1-12)   

    B. Judgments against Gentile Nations                           (13-23) 

   C. Songs of Future Glory                                               (24-27)

    D. Woes, Judgments and Promise                                 (28-35)   

II.  Historical Interlude                                                             (36-39)

III. Comfort:   chapters 40-66

          A. God’s Greatness   (Father vs. Idols)                         (40-48)

          B. God’s Grace       (The Son, God’s Servant)              (49-57)

          C. God’s Glory       (The Spirit and the Kingdom)                  (58-60)

 

Isaiah was seeing the gradual advance of the Assyrians. He gives signs of warning about the Assyrians to Judah, but also signs of hope. God would be with them (Immanuel) and would bring them peace (Our Prince of Peace). Isaiah doesn’t begin with his call, but reasons for his commission, giving us a summary of the whole book.

 

Turn to Isaiah chapter 1 and we will begin to put the pieces of our jigsaw puzzle into place.

Isaiah 1:1 gives us our framework – the prophet and his times. And the rest of Isaiah 1 shows us a way out in the midst of warnings.

1.     God’s charge against Israel: verses 2-4

In verse 2 God through Isaiah calls heaven and earth to witness a courtroom scene as he charges Judah with breaking his heart because they have rebelled. God reveals his heart as he looks at Judah whom he has called his special treasure, his sons and daughters. They had been set apart for Him for two reasons: to intimately know and believe God and to reveal God’s glory to the world. They are his children who have rebelled against him. That word, rebel, has to do with breaking a contract – just what Judah had done – broken the covenant that God has made with them under Moses. Have you experienced or seen someone else’s grief as a child rebels against them as a parent?  God’s heart is broken by His children’s disobedience.

In verse 3 we see the imagery of an ox and a donkey and the hand that feeds them, yet Israel dose not recognize where their blessings come from. Do you know and understand where your blessings come from?

In verse 4 God describes this rebellious people: a sinful nation, loaded with guilt, evildoers, corrupt, forsaking the Lord, turning their back on God on the Holy One of Israel – the one who is perfectly pure, absolutely “other” than man.

The charges against Judah are on the table. They have broken the covenant. They have rebelled against God.

 

2.     God builds his case against Judah  vs. 5-17

        They are a sick people because of their rebellion – vs. 5-6

     It is like they have been beaten physically. Their whole head is injured, their heart is afflicted. Your head and your heart keep you alive. Their whole body is diseased – from head to foot. They are covered with wounds and welts and nobody is doing anything about it!

        They are desolate nation – like after a battle. Vs 7-9

Their cities are burned, fields are stripped and Jerusalem stands alone like a shack in the midst of destruction – a shelter in a vineyard, but the vineyard is not fruitful.

Verse 9 UNLESS, Isaiah says, the Lord Almighty – the God of all of the host of heaven and earth – had left us some survivors. The first sign of hope! God is faithful to his covenant. He promises that there will be a remnant of his people to accomplish his plan and purposes – to bring glory to His name! If it wasn’t for God’s mercy and grace, Judah would be completely destroyed. We’ll see how this promise of hope unfolds.

        They are a bunch of phonies -  Vs 10-17

A religious people who multiply (vs. 11) sacrifices to God, yet they are meaningless (vs. 13). Even thought these sacrifices they were making lined up with the covenant sacrifices required by God, their heart was not in them. They are bunch of hypocrites. Other scriptures teach us that God desires our obedience rather than sacrifices, a broken and contrite heart before sacrifices, a godly walk. This is even stated here in verses 16-17. God doesn’t want to see their evil deeds. He calls them to stop their evil deeds and start doing right by seeking justice helping the underdog, and defending the helpless. Verse 15 Isaiah says that God will not hear their prayers, that he will hide their eyes from him. I Peter 3:12 and Psalm 34:15 reiterates this truth… “The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and he is attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” God wanted worship from the heart, not rituals.

        Before we condemn Judah, what about the church today? Are we lifting up holy hands in prayer or are our hands stained with blood from our multiplied and meaningless sacrifices? Just going to church, just reading our Bible, just dong what we think we should do to gain God’s favor? Are we just going through the motions, building bigger churches and caring for ourselves, or are we engaged in knowing and loving God and therefore reaching out to share his love and grace with others – the helpless, the underdogs? Because we have seen his mercy and love?

 

3.     God gives Judah a way out – verse 18-31

God gives his people a chance to respond to his charges. He wants them to be a righteous people. Verse 18 says the Lord calls the people to come and reason with him – the case needs a verdict! What will you do, Judah? You deserve judgment, but I offer you forgiveness, mercy, and grace. He doesn’t offer only judgment, but pardon.  He wants to show them his heart – one of mercy and forgiveness. He offers forgiveness of sin, to cover their stain of sin, making them white as snow, if they repent and turn from their sin. He offers to give them a clean slate. Meeting the demands of a holy life would only be possible through his mercy and grace extended to them. The law shows them their sin. Grace gives them a way out.

Look at verses 19-20 – the alternatives are laid out clearly for Judah and us today. Willingness and obedience leads to the blessings of God. Resistance and rebellion leads to destruction. The sins of his people to be confessed are further defined in verses 21-23. They include robbery, murder, exploiting the helpless, as well as worshipping idols. God’s wrath is not a sudden burst of anger, but a revulsion to sin by a just and holy God – the Holy One of Israel. Because He is the Holy One of Israel he will not compromise when it comes to sin.

Verse 24 uses many names of God, declaring who he is and then shows us that he has a reason, a purpose even when judgment is required:  (1) The Lord (Jehovah who was and is and is to come), (2) the Lord Almighty (the sovereign God, the one who rules the heavens and earth and all that is in it), and (3) The Mighty One (our deliverer). It is this God who will send judgment if there is no repentance. Why? Verse 22-25: He wants to cleanse them of their worthlessness (dross) and their impurities (tin looks like metal, but isn’t the real thing). He wants to restore them (vs. 26), so that they will be faithful and righteous. He wants to redeem them with his justice and righteousness (vs. 27).

His people needed divine intervention, just as we do today. What’s our sin? Could they be:  prayerlessness, lack of knowledge of His word, trusting in things other than God, or placing other things first in our lives. He longs for us to love and worship him, which will affect our lives, our very behavior, and our very society. He promises redemption and restoration –even through his judgment of sin. The alternative when we do not turn to the LORD is quite clear here in the scripture – verse 28 states the outcome of rebellion and sin as brokenness, shame, disgrace and finally, those who forsake the Lord will perish.

God gives us a way out through his mercy and grace.

 His grace has appeared to us!

Titus 2:11-14…For the grace of God has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope-the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.

 

 

4.     How do we apply this to our lives today?

        What’s your view of God? One of the commentators stated that God has been misrepresented in the sense that He has been pictured as losing His temper and breaking forth in judgment.” Has that been your picture of God? Especially as we study the Old Testament? God will judge sin or abandon the wicked to their sin because of his holiness and justness, but he reaches out with mercy and grace over and over again. And even through his judgment, he purposes to purify us and make us whole.

        How have you experienced his justice and mercy? Meditate on the Lord’s justice (1:19-20, 24-28) and his mercy (1:9 and 8). Thanks the Lord – how else can you respond when you see his redeeming love?

        What would it mean for you to be willing and obedient so that you can experience God’s best for you? (1:19)

 

 

Keepsake truth: Isaiah 1:18

“Come now, let us reason together,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.”