Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Isaiah 1: 21-26

Zion Corrupted, to Be Redeemed
 21 How the faithful city has become a harlot,
She who was full of justice!
Righteousness once lodged in her,
But now murderers.
22 Your silver has become dross,
Your drink diluted with water.
23 Your rulers are rebels
And companions of thieves;
Everyone loves a bribe
And chases after rewards.
They do not defend the orphan,
Nor does the widow’s plea come before them.   
24 Therefore the Lord GOD of hosts,
The Mighty One of Israel, declares,
“Ah, I will be relieved of My adversaries
And avenge Myself on My foes.
25 “I will also turn My hand against you,
And will smelt away your dross as with lye
And will remove all your alloy.
26 “Then I will restore your judges as at the first,
And your counselors as at the beginning;
After that you will be called the city of righteousness,
A faithful city.”

I mentioned last week to remember the words of grace spoken by God in our passage. Sure enough, I find myself struggling to read and write about the words facing Jerusalem in our passage this week. "How the faithful city has become a harlot...," says verse 21. This transports me back to the beginnings of Hosea, when Israel receives the same designation. Isaiah paints Jerusalem as a has-been city--one that had everything going for it, but now stands self-corrupted.

Isaiah compares Jerusalem to both silver and drink, as in wine, although neither are respectable. "Your silver has become dross. Your drink diluted with water." (vs. 22) That latter one might cause you to spit! The first reference may require some explaining.

As is the case with other metals, minerals or gems, one must take the raw material through a process to make it valuable. Smelting is the process used to refine metals, like silver. The unwanted substances and impurities in the silver are called dross. Where Jerusalem had once shone bright like silver--both literally, in its successful business enterprises, and figuratively, as in its honorable obedience to God--it now appeared as dross, or, as the Hebrew word is defined, "refuse." [Strong's]

"Dross may shine like silver, and the wine that is mixed with water may retain the colour of wine, but neither is worth any thing. Thus they retained a show and pretence of virtue and justice, but had no true sense of either."
--Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Bible

"Like an earthen vessel overlaid with silver dross are burning lips and a wicked heart."
--Proverbs 26:23

That might as well be a description of Jerusalem.

The Apostle Paul's words in the New Testament come to us in Greek, not Hebrew, but he also used a word meaning refuse in regard to the purity of the relationship He was constantly seeking with God. It was as if he were saying, "Smelt away the dross from me!"

"But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ...."
--Philippians 3: 7 and 8 (emphasis mine)

Verse 23 of Isaiah takes the cleansing, instructional words of verse 17 and flips them on their ears, to represent the "evil" that Jerusalem demonstrates in its actions. Rather than "reprove the ruthless" (vs 17), we read "Your rulers are rebels," and "Everyone loves a bribe" (vs. 23); "Defend the orphan" (vs 17) vs. "They do not defend...." (vs 23); and "Plead for the widow" (vs 17) vs. "Nor does the widow's plea come...." (vs 23). It's flat-out disobedience, and God has a plan to deal with this problem, one He laid ground for back in Israel's wilderness days:

"If you are not careful to observe all the words of this law which are written in this book, to fear this honored and awesome name, the LORD your God...It shall come about that as the LORD delighted over you to prosper you, and multiply you, so the LORD will delight over you to make you perish and destroy you; and you will be torn from the land where you are entering to possess it."
--Deuteronomy 28: 58a and 63

The same Judge is still in His courtroom with Jerusalem, and He's like no other judge anywhere. Isaiah's titles, "the Lord God of hosts" and "the Mighty One of Israel," both point to God being the ultimate authority. Not just the Law, but the One who issues and carries out the punishments. But, in verse 24, God's judgments do not refer to the present time of Jerusalem's corruption. The sentence of Babylonian captivity is not what we read about in the next couple of verses. The time frame for this period of judgment refers to the end times--a final judgment and restoration period for Jerusalem.

As I read the quote from God in verse 24, I can't help but see Him on His throne, ruminating that future day on His calendar when He will once and for all rid Himself of His enemies. The saints in Heaven say, how much longer? The day is coming when God will have His Day.

"He will sit as a smelter and purifier of silver, and He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, so that they may present to the LORD offerings in righteousness. Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the LORD as in the days of old and as in former years." 
--Malachi 3: 3 and 4

Isaiah returns to the use of 'smelt' in verse 25 as we understand further the process that God must bring forth in order to reestablish, once and for all, a permanent, perfect relationship with His chosen people. A Holy God cannot be in the presence of dross! So all that is unholy will be purged away. The "sons of Levi" refers to those who kept the Temple. Yes, there are "wolves in sheep's clothing" [Matthew 7:15] in the religious establishments of our world who will be held accountable for their allegiances.

"Then," begins verse 26, "I will restore...." Jerusalem will return to Glory days--the Shekinah will be in the sights of those on Earth again--as the Son of Man returns to reign in His "city of righteousness, a faithful city."

Redemption, but not for all. Chapter 1 concludes.... 'Til next Wednesday!


* * *

Next week: Isaiah 1: 27-31

Note: I read from the New American Standard Bible translation,
specifically, The MacArthur Study Bible (NASB).
I will quote other sources if used in a post.

I also use
Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible
(with notes from the King James Version).

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Isaiah 1: 16-20

 16 “Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean;
Remove the evil of your deeds from My sight.
Cease to do evil, 17 Learn to do good;
Seek justice, Reprove the ruthless,
Defend the orphan, Plead for the widow.
“Let Us Reason”
 18 “Come now, and let us reason together,”
Says the LORD,
“Though your sins are as scarlet,
They will be as white as snow;
Though they are red like crimson,
They will be like wool.
19If you consent and obey,
You will eat the best of the land;
20 “But if you refuse and rebel,
You will be devoured by the sword.”
Truly, the mouth of the LORD has spoken.

What do you do when your hands are covered in the blood of sin? You "wash yourselves, make yourselves clean," says Isaiah in today's opening verses from Chapter 1, picking up from last week's post. For Judah in these days, such a cleansing would involve a two-fold process:

"I shall wash my hands in innocence,
And I will go about Your altar, O LORD...."
--Psalm 26:6

Following the law of Moses in the procedures of sacrifices and offerings was the second step of the process. The first was for the people to see the error of their ways and to "clean up their act," meaning, what God adds in verse 16, "Remove the evil of your deeds from My sight." Truly, if we don't intend to change that which we know (or have been told, according to God) is wrong, we shouldn't be approaching the Lord's altar for forgiveness anyway. Not that we'll be perfect from then on, but at least we won't come to Him under false pretenses.

"As justice and charity will never atone for atheism and profaneness, so prayers and sacrifices will never atone for fraud and oppression; for righteousness towards men is as much a branch of pure religion as religion towards God is a branch of universal righteousness."
--Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Bible

My study Bible says that this section of text is a "preview" of the last 27 chapters of Isaiah. Today, we receive some words of grace by God in the midst of chapters and chapters of judgment. Soak it up! We need to remember that these words were said and will hold fast, even as the reading gets tougher to hear as we go forward.

"Learn to do good," says verse 17. I love that it doesn't just say "do good." It says, "learn." We are not born perfect doers, and the process of learning to make right choices seemingly lasts a lifetime--even though there are some things you would hope you would catch on to sooner rather than later. For Judah, there are some things they should have known from long ago. But did the present generation hear the words that their fathers and grandfathers and ancestors were supposed to carry forward, per the Word of God? We can ask ourselves the same question of our generation today.

This was a nation that lacked Godly justice and love, hence God's direction in this verse, which, to me, again, speaks loudly of James in the New Testament:

"Real religion, the kind that passes muster before God the Father, is this: Reach out to the homeless and loveless in their plight, and guard against corruption from the godless world."
--James 1:27, The Message

Isaiah, Chapter 1, from the beginning, reads a bit like a court hearing, with God, the Judge, presiding and Judah hearing the reading of the record of charges against them. But the Judge now pauses over the indictment, if you will, calling Judah to plainly see their case through His eyes, as He knows they can. "Come now, and let us reason together...." (vs 18) 'Reason' in Hebrew means, "to be right (i.e. correct); reciprocally, to argue; causatively, to decide, justify or convict." [Strong's]

Is God out to convict? In matters of Judah's heart? Oh, yeah! Is God out to sentence, as in life-condemning punishment? He would rather not. I think He's speaking as a Father to His children, knowing the plans He has for them ("a future and a hope," Jeremiah 29:11). "Judah, child, look at what you have done. Can you not see your mistakes? You know better. I have told you how to live."

As verse 18 continues, can you not picture King David, wracked by the same kind of blood-guilt, as his indiscretion with Bathsheba and the murder--by his command--of Uriah the Hittite is brought into the light by the prophet, Nathan? Psalm 51 is labeled in the NASB as, "A Contrite Sinner's Prayer for Pardon." The World English Dictionary offers several definitions for 'contrite' including, "remorseful for past sin and resolved to avoid future sin." Here was something Judah had forgotten, or was struggling to learn.

"Purify me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow."

--Psalm 51:7

A sinner must recognize the gravity of sin before seeking confession and repentance. There is an action step that needs to be taken on the part of the sinner. Then, there is grace through merciful pardoning God. Otherwise, God has no reason to even consider us standing before Him. Notice the echoing of the "wash yourselves" reference from Isaiah 1:16, as God says that He, too, will wash Himself of Judah's sins, restoring the people to be "as snow" and "as wool" again.

God may not be sentencing, here, but that doesn't mean that He backing down from discipline, nor does He withdraw Judah's free will. See verse 19: "If you consent (or, "if ye be willing," in the King James Version) and obey...." Judah could try and argue their case, but they would clearly have nothing solid to stand upon in their defense. God is speaking to their free will in saying, "if." This is not unlike the message He spoke unto Judah's forefathers before their entering the Promised Land:

"See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, and death and adversity...."
--Deuteronomy 30:15

God presents the choices. However, the decision as to what to follow remains Judah's. Isaiah writes a lovely parallel in saying the people will either "eat" of the best or "be devoured" by the worst. Oh, for Judah to "taste and see that the Lord is good." (Psalm 34:8)

"...So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants, by loving the LORD your God, by obeying His voice, and by holding fast to Him...."
--Deuteronomy 30: 19b & 20a

Of course, they don't.

Judah becomes "a harlot" and God cleans up.... 'Til next Wednesday!


* * *

Next week: Isaiah 1: 21-26

Note: I read from the New American Standard Bible translation,
specifically, The MacArthur Study Bible (NASB).
I will quote other sources if used in a post.

I also use
Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible
(with notes from the King James Version).

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Isaiah 1: 10-15

God Has Had Enough
 10 Hear the word of the LORD,
You rulers of Sodom;
Give ear to the instruction of our God,
You people of Gomorrah.
11 “What are your multiplied sacrifices to Me?”
Says the LORD.
“I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams
And the fat of fed cattle;
And I take no pleasure in the blood of bulls, lambs or goats.
12 “When you come to appear before Me,
Who requires of you this trampling of My courts?
13 “Bring your worthless offerings no longer,
Incense is an abomination to Me.
New moon and sabbath, the calling of assemblies—
I cannot endure iniquity and the solemn assembly.
14 “I hate your new moon festivals and your appointed feasts,
They have become a burden to Me;
I am weary of bearing them.
15 “So when you spread out your hands in prayer,
I will hide My eyes from you;
Yes, even though you multiply prayers,
I will not listen.
Your hands are covered with blood.

I've said this before on these pages: There is a reason why the first Commandment is, "Thou shalt have no other gods before Me." (Exodus 20:3, King James Version) Because it goes with the "foremost" Commandment that Jesus gave us: "'...Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.'" (Mark 12:30) When God comes down hard on His people, bearing His wrath, it is often in regard to the lack of obedience in following the first and foremost Commandments. Judah was as guilty as Israel in finding ways to dishonor God through worship, except it may not read like it. 

Verse 10 clues us in that Judah and Jerusalem are not held in high regard, as Isaiah continues to reference them (as in last week's post) as Sodom and Gomorrah. "Listen up! Wise up!" he says. From here, God begins His list of everything He can't stand about the worship of His people. Let's highlight the components mentioned:

  • Sacrifices (verse 11)--Not only did Judah sacrifice, but they offered "multiplied" sacrifices. We even learn, as we continue on, that these sacrifices include the fat of "fed" animals;
  • Presence in the Temple courts for worship (verse 12);
  • Incense offering (verse 13);
  • New Moon and Sabbath festivals and feasts (verse 13 and 14);
  • Solemn assemblies (verse 13);
  • Spreading hands out in prayer and multiplied prayers (verse 15).

These are the things the people were doing. When looking at this list and referencing God's Word through the law of Moses, you can't fault Judah for not doing the right things. These were all things approved by God. If anything, it looks as though Judah is over the top with their efforts, offering more than the required.

But, obviously, our passage in Isaiah is not saying that Judah stood favorably in the eyes of God.

  • "What are your multiplied sacrifices to Me?” 
  • "I have had enough...."
  • "I take no pleasure in...."
  • "Who requires of you this trampling...."
  • "Bring your worthless offerings no longer"
    "Incense is an abomination...."
  • "I cannot endure iniquity and the solemn assembly." 
  • "I hate your new moon festivals and your appointed feasts...I am weary of bearing them."
  • "I will hide My eyes from you...."
  • "I will not listen....."

Clearly, something is missing. A big something:

"To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices to Me [unless they are the offering of the heart]? says the Lord. I have had enough of the burnt offerings of rams and the fat of fed beasts [without obedience]; and I do not delight in the blood of bulls or of lambs or of he-goats [without righteousness]."
--vs. 11, Amplified Bible

Sacrifices were certainly a part of what Judah was to do in their relationship with God. This was part of the demonstration of their faith and the way to be made right again in a formal, visual act of confession and repentance. But, as The Reformation Study Bible says, "Although God had ordered them to be performed, they were of no value without obedience from the heart."

Verse 13 in the King James' says, "Bring no more vain oblations." There was an attitude of the heart that was to come with the bringing of a sacrifice or offering. A humility. An understanding and honoring of God for who He was. God's beef with Judah is their heartlessness. Their emptiness. Their ritual. Today, this is one of the reasons giving religion its bad rap.

I'm blessed with being in a sharp Bible study group that is tackling Beth Moore's study of James right now. Jesus' half-brother, leader of the Jerusalem Council, a Christian Jew through and through, James pronounces the trouble with religion in his epistle: "If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is worthless." (James 1:26) Judah could walk the walk and probably proudly talked it up a good bit. But the people had deceived themselves in their hearts. They were devoted to the ritual and not to the Deity. Their religion had no value.

"Their hearts were empty of true devotion. They came to appear before God (Isa. 1:12), to be seen before him (so the margin reads it); they rested in the outside of the duties; they looked no further than to be seen of men, and went no further than that which men see."
--Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Bible
The "vain oblations" uttered and embodied by the Pharisees in prayer did not escape Jesus' teaching either:
"...For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted."
--Luke 18: 14b

Judah had lost its love for God. Intentional and yet completely wayward, outward. Even those of us who may call ourselves 'Christians' need to come terms with the fact that we are quite 'religious'--at least, on paper. Of what value is our religion today? If we understand God's Word in Isaiah, and Jesus' fulfillment of the law and the prophets, we should put love as a banner above all--love being obedience to the only One who can save us. What we do in showing our love has to come out of the Love that was placed in our hearts to begin with.

"But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear."
--Isaiah 59:2

God lays out an action plan.... 'Til next Wednesday!


* * *

Next week: Isaiah 1: 16-20

Note: I read from the New American Standard Bible translation,
specifically, The MacArthur Study Bible (NASB).
I will quote other sources if used in a post.

I also use
Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible
(with notes from the King James Version).

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Isaiah 1: 5-9

 5 Where will you be stricken again,
As you continue in your rebellion?
The whole head is sick
And the whole heart is faint.
6 From the sole of the foot even to the head
There is nothing sound in it,
Only bruises, welts and raw wounds,
Not pressed out or bandaged, nor softened with oil.
 7 Your land is desolate,
Your cities are burned with fire,
Your fields—strangers are devouring them in your presence;
It is desolation, as overthrown by strangers.
8 The daughter of Zion is left like a shelter in a vineyard,
Like a watchman’s hut in a cucumber field, like a besieged city.
9 Unless the LORD of hosts
Had left us a few survivors,
We would be like Sodom,
We would be like Gomorrah.

I am wondering how many of you are identifying with that cartoon up there? I know some of you have been sick, lately, and will therefore have an understanding of the description that Isaiah presents today, as we continue on in Chapter 1.

In the Amplified Bible, verse 5 opens, "Why should you be stricken and punished any more [since it brings no correction]?" God is saying, I allow for you to suffer the consequences of your actions, but it appears that you are not learning anything much less repenting, as you, Judah, continue in your sinful rebellion. The entire body of Israel is sick, and no one is intervening. Verse 6 continues with the idea that the wounds of the nation lie before everyone--open, oozing, untreated, with pain continuing, though because the body is so ill, it does not seek help.

"Because of your wrath there is no health in my body; there is no soundness in my bones because of my sin."
--Psalm 38:3

The outcome of not being of spiritually sound mind and body is that Judah is going to fall. It will be deserted ("desolate") as strangers (alien nations, like Babylon) take over. Isaiah is already alluding to Judah's pending captivity.
Verse 8 introduces us to a phrase used in the Old Testament and more than once by Isaiah in referring to Jerusalem--"Daughter of Zion." In this particular verse, one could expand that to include all of Judah. I am reminded of the spiritual song by the same title [although I cannot find it anywhere, much less can I confirm that is the title! I do remember singing it with the choir at my former church, however]. It was based on Zephaniah 3:14: "Shout for joy, O daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph, O Israel! Rejoice and exult with all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem!" A Palm Sunday song....

But its use in verse 8 is not in celebrating a joyful procession, but in the picture of something laid waste. What a curiously fun description Isaiah gives: "...Like a watchman’s hut in a cucumber field...." The watchman's hut we can understand from the words. But why a cucumber field? Digging around in the field of research materials [HA!], I read about how cucumbers were a favorite food of the Israelites. Back in their manna-only wilderness days, Israel reminisced about the cucumbers of Egypt. (Numbers 11:5)

"A 'garden of cucumbers' or more literally a 'place of cucumbers' (miqshah), is mentioned in Isa 1:8.... 'A lodge in a garden of cucumbers' (Isa 1:8) is the rough wooden booth erected by the owner from which he keeps guard over his ripening vegetables. It is commonly raised upon poles and, when abandoned for the season, it falls into decay and presents a dreary spectacle of tottering poles and dead leaves."
--International Standard Bible Encyclopedia

So we see, clearly, a picture of Judah. Once a flourishing garden of delicious, favorite vegetables, now with its earthly guard tower down, trashed in fields being overtaken by neighboring nations. A "dreary spectacle" indeed!

Closing out today with verse 9 and another oft-used phrase by Isaiah--"Lord of hosts." My study Bible explains that this name for God pictures Him, " a mighty warrior, a leader of armies, capable of conquering all of Israel's enemies and providing for her survival." This was not what I had understood the phrase to mean, as I immediately think of the Heavenly hosts, which puts God in the position of caretaker of the angels. But, even in that understanding, I remember that angels are not pretty white beings in the sky, but messengers of God who are also in the position of defending against the armies of the Enemy in unseen spiritual realms. God is the sole Lord of our survival, no matter of which realm we speak.

The Lord left "survivors." This word is translated elsewhere, like in the King James', as 'remnant.' We understand from the entirety of God's Word that there will be a remnant of the now-scattered Israel that will be reunited at the time of the return of Jesus for His earthly reign. The Apostle Paul quotes this verse from Isaiah in Romans 9:29, as he took up the challenge of affirming that even as Gentiles were being saved through Christ, there were yet Jews who followed Christ--essentially what Paul was--who would be restored to the Messiah at the time of His return. Nine verses into Isaiah, and we are already afforded a glimpse of the grace of God and the keeping of His longstanding promise to all of Israel.

If God had not intended to keep "survivors," then, as the prophet continues, "We would be like Sodom, we would be like Gomorrah." Just a refresher, these were the two Canaanite cities--usually said in the same breath!--that were both destroyed when God dive-bombed them with "fire and brimstone" due to their excessive sin. Throughout the Bible and, perhaps even now, these cities represent the judgment of God in our time on Earth. Isaiah called upon Judah and Jerusalem to consider themselves the latest "Sodom and Gomorrah" for their unholy response to God and His direction for their lives.

If not for God's eternal plan, this would be a much shorter book!

How Judah is messing up worship.... 'Til next Wednesday!


* * *

Next week: Isaiah 1: 10-15

Note: I read from the New American Standard Bible translation,
specifically, The MacArthur Study Bible (NASB).
I will quote other sources if used in a post.

I also use
Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible
(with notes from the King James Version).

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Isaiah 1: 1-4

Isaiah 1
Rebellion of God’s People
 1 The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz concerning Judah and Jerusalem, which he saw during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, kings of Judah.  2 Listen, O heavens, and hear, O earth;
For the LORD speaks,
Sons I have reared and brought up,
But they have revolted against Me.
3 “An ox knows its owner,
And a donkey its master’s manger,
But Israel does not know,
My people do not understand.”
 4 Alas, sinful nation,
People weighed down with iniquity, offspring of evildoers,
Sons who act corruptly!
They have abandoned the LORD,
They have despised the Holy One of Israel,
They have turned away from Him.

Isaiah opens his prophecy, which he received from God, saying that it came through a vision (1:1). As we learned last week in our introduction and is also found here in this verse, Isaiah's service to God came during the rule of four kings of Judah. Let's look a little more closely at each, as described in Scripture, recognizing that we'll delve into more of their stories as Isaiah continues:

Uzziah (also known as Azariah)--"He was sixteen years old when he became king, and he reigned fifty-two years in Jerusalem.... He did right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his father Amaziah had done. Only...the people still sacrificed and burned incense on the high places. The LORD struck the king, so that he was a leper to the day of his death." (II Kings 15: 2-5, excerpts) "Hence his fame [as a successful leader in war battles] spread afar, for he was marvelously helped until he was strong. But when he became strong, his heart was so proud that he acted corruptly, and he was unfaithful to the LORD his God...." (II Chronicles 26: 15 and 16)

Jotham, son of Uzziah--"He was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem.... He did what was right in the sight of the LORD.... Only...the people still sacrificed and burned incense on the high places." (II Kings 15: 33-35, excerpts) "...However he did not enter the temple of the LORD.... So Jotham became mighty because he ordered his ways before the LORD his God." (II Chronicles 27:2 & 6)

Ahaz, son of Jotham--"Ahaz was twenty years old when he became king, and he reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem; and he did not do what was right in the sight of the LORD his God, as his father David had done. But he walked in the way of the kings of Israel, and even made his son pass through the fire...." (II Kings 16: 2-3) It was under King Ahaz that an alliance between Judah and Assyria was made. We could take an entire blog's day on the troubles with Ahaz!

Hezekiah, son of Ahaz--"He was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned twenty-nine years in Jerusalem....He trusted in the LORD, the God of Israel; so that after him there was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor among those who were before him. For he clung to the LORD; he did not depart from following Him, but kept His commandments, which the LORD had commanded Moses. (II Kings 18: 2, 5 and 6) Hezekiah, with encouragement from Isaiah along the way, made incredible reforms in a show of returning to the Lord. The end of his life would come with trouble, however, but what he tried to do in his leadership--submitting Judah to the Word of the Lord and following in obedience--is most noteworthy.

Verse 2 of Chapter 1 begins a speech by God, and all in Heaven above and Earth below are beckoned to hear. "Sons I have reared and brought up, but they have revolted against Me." God uses 'sons' to exemplify the relationship He has with His people. The original 12 tribes of Israel, the offspring of Abraham and his descendants, were God's "chosen people," like sons to Him.

"For I have chosen him [Abraham], so that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing righteousness and justice, so that the LORD may bring upon Abraham what He has spoken about him.”
--Genesis 18:19

But God's chosen are now "sons who act corruptly!" (Isaiah 1:4) How corrupt are they? "A seed of evildoers," says verse 4 in the King James Version, implying that it is not just one set of sons, but generations. Continuing in the KJV, "They are gone away backward." Not just a casting aside for a time, but a rebellion against the Word of God, as Judah and Jerusalem turned to idols as their lord. 'Rebellion' at its Latin roots means "renewing a war." ( In the covenant under Abraham, God's people were in a peaceful relationship. They had been chosen by God, and He sought their obedience to Him and His Word in return. The wayward behavior of Judah was as if they had turned to make war on God.

How corrupt are they? That God would refer to His people in the face of domestic animals who understood their place in the good order of things. In verse 3, God says that oxen and donkeys recognize and obey their masters, but, "My people do not understand." And, in their lack of understanding, the people rebel. 

Here's an observation on Isaiah, the writer. He presents to us a term for God that he will use with frequency in his book--"the Holy One of Israel." The "set apart" nature of God is something that was not respected nor honored by the people. Yet, Isaiah uses this term, integrating God with Israel, to make a point of understanding and of remembrance of Who He is in relationship. Not that Isaiah's words would be heeded, mind you.

“...It is what the LORD spoke, saying, ‘By those who come near Me I will be treated as holy, and before all the people I will be honored,’....”
--Leviticus 10:3

"God has had enough".... 'Til next Wednesday!


* * *

Next week: Isaiah 1: 5-9

Note: I read from the New American Standard Bible translation,
specifically, The MacArthur Study Bible (NASB).
I will quote other sources if used in a post.

I also use
Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible
(with notes from the King James Version).