Isaiah 1

Isaiah 1 Devotional
by Pastor Mark Hudson

            We begin studying the massively weighty, deep, delightful vision of Isaiah.  You are going to just love his descriptive language, exalted view of God, his true-to-life view of man’s pride, and his insightful view of the coming Messiah.  Better to quote from Oswald’s commentary on Isaiah, “Of all the books of the OT, Isaiah is perhaps the richest.  Its literary grandeur is unequaled.  Its scope is unparalleled.  The breadth of its view of God is unmatched.  . . . it is no wonder that Isaiah is the most quoted prophet in the NT, and along with Psalms and Deuteronomy, one of the most frequently cited of all OT books” (p. 3).

            Isaiah’s ministry could have covered 5 decades.  But it could have been far shorter.  But did God ever give him a vision!  Sin is pictured as the heavenly treason it is.  Read how Isaiah describes sin: “Israel does not know . . . do not understand . . . have forsaken the Lord . . . have turned away from the Holy One of Israel”  (vs. 3-4).  This is earth shattering news (v. 2).  Even an ox or donkey know better than Israel (v. 3).   Sin is an offense against nature.  There is no excuse for rebellion against this holy and perfect God.

            If you notice v. 10, God compares the leaders and people of God to Sodom and Gomorrah.  The God who calls people to worship over and over in the Bible is now saying he “hates” their new moons and appointed feasts.  “. . . they have become a burden to me; I am weary of bearing them.”  Wouldn’t you hate it if God felt that way about your worship?  Is God’s attitude because He no longer loves worship?  Of course not.  Their hands of full of blood (v. 15); they continue to do evil (v. 16); they are unjust (v 17); they oppress others [the poor?] (v. 17); and do not deal justly with the orphan and widows (v. 17).  Their worship mocks a holy God.

            If you think ‘Sunday morning at church’ when you hear the word worship, you are not thinking Biblically.  Worship is certainly when you gather with God’s people but look carefully at this chapter as well as the book as a whole.  Worship is what you want, think about, and toil for.  Worship is how you treat others and how you speak.  Worship is what you do during the week. It is how you treat others who have nothing to give you or can’t benefit you.  Paul might say whether you eat or drink, play sports, spend your free time, talk to friends, listen to music, go online, do it all for the glory of God (I Cor 10:31).  I carry ‘me’ into the worship service.  I carry last week, last year, last decades into that worship service.  Oh, how much your character matters in worship.  I can make a show of worship but if I lift up hands that hurt, oppress, or abuse others, God will not listen to my prayers (1:15). 

            We need to be careful because some of us can talk like a Christian.  We can act like one.  We may even want people to think we are a Christian.  You can fool some people.  Most people do not have discernment.  And most of us are trusting.  We take people at their word.   If you are pretending you are one thing that you are not, be warned you are in serious danger.  Do you really think the invisible God who sees and knows everything cannot see what you are doing?  That disguise will never work.  Be the person you are.  Be honest.  Repent often.  Admit your mistakes.  But especially be honest with God.  He knows all about you.  And He loves you.

            Jerusalem, the city that the Psalmist says is the joy of the whole earth (Ps 48:2), has now become a whore.  If you think God does not care about justice and fairness in a nation, read carefully this chapter.  Not only in this chapter in verse 21-23 but throughout this book.  Justice is a major theme in the prophets that demonstrates God’s concern for truth as well as His care for the poor, the orphan, and the widow (James 1:27). 

            Sin is cosmic treason so it is always brings God’s judgment.  God judges the proud, the unjust, the violent, the hypocritical, and the unrighteous.  How this ought to sober us and cause us to reflect on God’s justice.  Thomas Jefferson wrote in Notes on the State of Virginia “Indeed I tremble for my country when reflect that God is just: that his justice cannot sleep for ever . . .” which is a fascinating quote by a man who did not claim to believe in Christ.  Yet how true it is. 

            Observe how Isaiah describes the nation: sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, offspring of evildoers, children who deal corruptly, forsaken the Lord, despised the holy one of Israel, utterly estranged (v.4), a whore  (v. 21).  You can rest assured that is not how they thought of themselves.  They were a proud people (2:11-18; 3:16ff; 5:15-16, 21 et al). God is always against the proud.

            Make sure you read vs. 18ff because in the midst of this just but scathing prophecy, God offers grace.  God always tell us the truth about our condition.  He also offers undeserved opportunities to receive forgiveness.  Remember that it is grace that God tells us the truth about our condition.  A Dr. does not hate a patient who tells the patient he has cancer.  There is almost always treatment for cancer so the doctor, after giving the bad news, proscribe treatment.  Many of us have heard such news, undergone treatment and lived.  But if God tells us to repent because you sin.  Repent.  Thank God for His truth.  

            Christ is the perfect prophet, priest, and king.  Go to him with your pride and find a savior how is humble in heart, lowly (Matt 11:29).  We all need to strive to truly and genuinely believe in Christ and to be like Him by His Spirit.  

            “Father, these verses, though written thousands of years ago, pierce my stubborn heart.  Thank you that I can run to Christ who is gently and lowly in heart and He accepts the contrite.  As you say in Is 66:3, “But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word.”  I want to be that person. Humble me, forgive me, and keep me low.  I need You to keep working on my hard heart. I look to You O Christ for more grace. In Christ, Amen.