Meet Divine Expectations

                                         Isaiah 1:1 – 5:30

                                           March 1, 2009

                                          

 

 

AN INTRODUCTION TO THE TIMES, MISSION AND WORK OF ISAIAH

 

                        TheTimes and Mission of Isaiah.

God raises up the man for the age, giving him gifts for the particular work

which the age may demand. History is not a mere faithful record of things

done, but a wise and sympathetic estimate of men doing. A man has more

power on us than a truth. A man is grander than any doctrine or any book.

Christianity, as a mere system, is a powerless thing; it never quickened

anybody from his death of trespasses and sins. The personal Christ is our

life. In the sphere of philanthropy we are interested in the doings of

Howard and Wilberforce and Nightingale; in politics we trace the influence

of Pitt and Burke and Cobden; and in the field of patriotism you kindle into

enthusiasm all America when you speak of Washington and Lincoln, and all

Scotland when you speak of John Knox. But it is not an easy thing for us

to reproduce the men of a long bygone history. The men of one period

must not be judged by the ideas and manners and social sentiments of

another period; and yet it makes a surpassing demand on us if we have to

create, with our imaginations, times wholly differing from our own. If we

could be set down amidst the ruins of the buried Pompeii, and see around

us the rooms, the furniture, the pictures, the ornaments, and the utensils,

we think that, with their help, it would be easy to reproduce the life of old

Rome; we could fill banqueting-hall, and theatre, and baths, and marketplace

with the men and women of that age. With old Israel we can have no

such helps; we are dependent on the historical and imaginative faculties.

I. THE PROPHET HIMSELF. “The vision of Isaiah, the son of Amoz.”

Little is known of his private life, and nothing of his personal appearance.

He resided in Jerusalem; he was married, and his wife is spoken of as a

prophetess. They had two sons; both were named with prophetic names,

the two taken together embodying the substance of Isaiah’s message. The

one was called “Maher-shalal-hash-baz” — “He hasteth to the prey” —

indicating the swift desolating forces that were coming on the people of

Judaea; the other was called “Shear-Jashub” — a “remnant shall return” —

indicating the mercy of God towards some, the mercy with which so much

of the Book of Isaiah deals. It appears that the prophet wore a garment of

haircloth or sackcloth, the ordinary symbol of repentance among Eastern

nations; and so his very appearance reminded the people of his message.

Isaiah prophesied for nearly fifty years. No record is left of his death, but

Jewish traditions represent him as martyred in the reign of Manasseh —

sawn asunder with a wooden saw. He was a prophet, not necessarily

foretelling future events, but a directly inspired man; one who received

communications from God which he was to address to the people. The

prophet had three things to do:

 

(1) to awaken the nation to a sense of sin in disobeying and forsaking the

Lord their God;

 

(2) to counteract the delusion that an external observance of rites and

ceremonies is sufficient to satisfy God; and

 

(3) to oppose the delusions of those who imagined that their election as a

nation, and their covenant with Jehovah, formed an absolute security

against overwhelming national judgments.

 

II. THE TIMES IN WHICH THE PROPHET LIVED. They were times

of national decline and decay. Isaiah saw four kings upon the throne of

Judah. He saw the flickering of the candle ere it went out in the darkness.

There was some appearance of prosperity; but Isaiah knew that it did but

gloze over deep national corruption that called for national judgments.

During the time of Isaiah the neighboring kingdom of the ten tribes did

actually fall — the corruptions of idolatry and sensuality, in their case,

running a swifter course; and the prophet holds up their case as a solemn

warning to the people of Judah. The first six chapters of Isaiah have been

referred to the reign of Uzziah, a king whose prosperity developed a strong

self-will and masterfulness, which led him to attempt a sad act of sacrilege.

Jotham was a pious king; but Ahaz plunged into all the idolatries of the

surrounding nations, making molten images for Baal, and sacrificing his

children by passing them through the burning hands of Moloch in the valley

of Hinnom. The people were only too ready for this debasing change. But

judgment quickly followed on the heels of iniquity. Pekah of Israel and

Rezin of Damascus attacked and injured the country, though they failed to

take Jerusalem. Soon other enemies came — Syrians in front, Philistines

behind. Ahaz sought help from Tiglath-Pileser, King of Assyria, who soon

turned upon him, and Assyria became the gravest enemy of Israel.

 

III. THE WORK WHICH THE PROPHET HAD TO DO.

 

1. His first work was to make men understand that their sufferings were

actual Divine judgments on their sins, and therefore calls, like thunder peals,

to awaken them to repentance. God will not leave men in their

troubles to imagine that some evil chance has befallen them, that they are

the victims of accident. By the mouth of some prophet he will assuredly

vindicate the connection between sin and suffering.

 

 

 

 

 

2. But Isaiah had also to bring comfort to the people of God in the time of

national calamity. Godly people are often bowed down by the pressure of

surrounding evil, and in their despairing they sometimes say, “God hath

forgotten to be gracious.” God will never leave his faithful few to sink

under discouragements.

 

3. Isaiah’s work may be more precisely stated as this: he was to prepare the

way for the spiritual kingdom of God, in the person of Messiah the

crucified yet glorified Redeemer. The old theocracy was breaking up, and

God’s rule in the world might be lost. Isaiah was to say that it was only

passing into a spiritual theocracy, giving place to the spiritual and eternal

reign of God in souls. In Isaiah messages of severity and of mercy are most

graciously blended. The following passage precisely represents his mission:

“Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell,

severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness:

otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.” – Romans 11:22

 

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Materials are reproduced by permission."

 

 

                                                            ch. 1

 

 

v. 1 - "Isaiah" - (the salvation of Jehovah)

 

Isaiah prophesied for nearly 50 years - no record is given of his death but

Jewish traditions represent him as martyred in the reign of Manasseh - sawn

asunder with a wooden saw -

 

He served in a time of national decline and decay-in a time of idolatry and sensuality

 

Isaiah was also to bring comfort to the people of God in the time of national calamity –

ch. 3:10, ch. 2:1-4

 

vs. 2-6 - God's complaint against His people is Judah’s defection from God.

      National repentance would avert God's judgments but in this section

      an indictment is presented – Judah’s sins are called to remembrance!

 

v. 2 –  “Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth”

 

All nature is invoked to hear Jehovah make complaint of the ingratitude of His people.

 

"I have nourished and brought up children and they have rebelled against me"

 

v. 3 - dumb animals recognize their owner & master

 

The ox and the ass are probably selected as the least intelligent of domesticated

animals.   Yet even they recognize their owner or master. Jeremiah

contrasts the brutish stupidity of Israel with the wise instinct of animals

that have not been domesticated, as the stork, the turtle-dove, the crane,

and the swallow (Jeremiah 8:7).

 

"Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider" (are without understanding)

 

ch. 5:12 - "regard not the work of the Lord, neither

            consider the operation of His hands"

 

v. 4 –

 

  • "ah, sinful nation"  – sunk in sin & wickedness – how sad – almost hopeless
  • "a people laden with iniquity" – heavy with guilt
  • "a seed of evil-doers" – not descendants of evil-doers but an “evil-doing seed” or  race
  • "children that are corrupters" – both morally and theologically – see v. 21
  • "they have forsaken the Lord"- Not by renouncing his worship, which they still   continued

                 (vers. 11-15), but by reducing it to a formality. The people “honored him with their lips, while

                   their hearts were far from him” (Isaiah 29:13).

  • "they have provoked the HOLY ONE of Israel" – despised or scorned in disobedience
  • "they are gone away backward" – they have turned their back upon God – (Ezekiel 8:16)

 

"The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God" - Ps. 9:17

 

For examples see ch. 2:6-8

 

v. 5 - "why should ye be stricken anymore"?

 

By this passage Israel (what of modern America?) are depicted as a diseased and

stricken body, a mass of sores and corruption – vs. 5-6

 

Mr. Spurgeon's Sermon "A Question for Hard-hearted Hearers"

(See Amos 6 Spurgeon Sermon – A Question for Hard Hearted

Hearers)

 

Time, pleasure and misuse of sacred opportunity!

 

When God comes to a man in His providence to

correct by whatever means - then there is deepest

silence in the soul and the voices of heaven reach

the inmost chambers of the spirit - if these be

heard and felt in vain, if lessons are unlearned by

the rebellious heart  - "there is more hope of a fool

than of him"

 

When a man or nation has reached a certain depth

in iniquity, Divine chastisement which ought to

arrest and restore him will only prod him to proceed

with quickened step on his evil way!

 

Suffering must follow sin.

 

"the whole head is sick, the whole heart faint"

 

The prophet personifies Israel, and means to say that the whole

head of the nation is diseased, its whole heart faint, or “prostrate with

langour” . The head and heart represent respectively the intellectual

and moral natures.

 

v. 6 - There has been no medical treatment of the wounds of any kind;  they have

            been left to themselves to spread corruption over the whole body, no attempt

            made to cure them???  (health care?? – contrast the obsession of the

            leadership in Congress over Health Care, while ignoring morality in America,

            even to the intent on passing legislation that undermines  the same -the words

            of Jesus, in a different context, are applicable here – “these ought ye to have

            done and not to leave the other undone” – Luke 11:42)

 

The general sentiment of the entire passage is that there has been no medical treatment

of the wounds of any kind; they have been left to themselves, to spread corruption over

the whole body — no attempt has been made to cure them.

 

v. 7 - "your country is desolate"

 

v. 9 - the comparison of Jerusalem with Sodom - implies a condition of extreme depravity

 

Exhibit of American involvement - Oscars night  and the attitude of Hollywood in things

moral and political!

 

The threatened destruction is of the MAGNITUDE of Sodom – (see again arkdiscovery.com.)

 

The comparison of Jerusalem with Sodom is made again in Isaiah 3:9, and is carried out

at some length by Ezekiel (Ezekiel 16:44-57). It implies a condition of extreme depravity.

 

v. 10 - Having said in the preceding verse how nearly Jerusalem had suffered the fate of

Sodom and Gomorrah, the writer grows more bold, and proceeds to give Jerusalem

obnoxious names. Her “rulers, “literally, judges (katsin in Hebrew corresponding to

kadi in Arabic), are “rulers of Sodom;” her people are the “people of Gomorrah.” There is

as much wickedness, though it may be not the same wickedness, in “the daughter of Zion

at the existing time, as in the cities of the plain when God destroyed them.

 

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Materials are reproduced by permission."

 

vs. 11-15 – Their hypocrisy was an aggravation of their guilt – their religious pretense is

            denounced as “an abomination” – v. 13.

 

Isaiah also warned the wicked.

 

Examples:  ch. 2:10-12, 17-21,     ch. 3:11

 

vs. 16-20 - The requirement of God - Amendment of life!

 

If they repent and amend there will be forgiveness and

favor -

 

  • "wash you, make you clean"
  • "put away the evil of your doings"
  • "learn to do well"
  • "come now and let us reason together" – cleansing
  • “though your sins be as scarlet….red like crimson”
  • “they shall be as white as snow…..as wool” – forgiveness will be entire, complete, thorough

        Snow will not be purer than the redeemed soul, which “the blood of Jesus

          Christ has cleansed from ALL sin” – I John 1:7

·          “if ye be willing and obedient ye shall eat the good of the land”

  • "if you refuse and rebel ye shall be devoured with the sword"

 

"FOR THE MOUTH OF THE LORD HATH SPOKEN IT"

 

v. 24

 

A weighty ending - Jehovah, who cannot lie, has spoken and it will surely come to pass!

 

v. 21 - "How is the faithful city become a harlot?" – How did this happen? !!!!!!!!!

 

“Hath a nation changed their gods, which are yet no gods?  but my people have

changed their glory for that which does not profit” – Jeremiah 2:11

 

 

 

 

America has attempted through the Judiciary (Supreme Court) to change our

allegiance to the God of Jews and Christians – (Judaeo-Christian value system)

and has tried to replace Him with the gods of materialism, sex, pleasure,

entertainment, drugs, etc.  CY – 2009)

 

vs. 24-31. THE DECLARATION OF GOD’S JUDGMENT. It is

foreknown to God that Israel will not repent. He therefore fulminates his

judgment; which, however, is still conditional, so far as individuals are concerned.

His vengeance will fall upon the land; but the result will be twofold. Destruction will

come upon the unrighteous and the sinners (v. 28) — they will be “consumed”

(v. 28), and “confounded” (v. 29); butthere will be some on whom the punishment will

have a purifying power, whose dross it will purge away, and whom it will convert to God

(vs. 25,27).  From these will rise up a new Jerusalem — a “city of righteousness,” a

“faithful stronghold” (v. 26). – WHEN JESUS COMES THERE WILL BE NO

SUCH LUXURY!

 

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Materials are reproduced by permission."

 

v. 25 - one of the effects of great national judgments like war, pestilence,

            and famine is the forced consideration of the danger they are in, in

            the contemplation of death being near and causes thoughts beyond the

            grave.  They break in upon the calm of everyday life, which has so

            many men in the grip of unconsciousness, and remind men of their

            Lord’s solemn injunction to “Watch”  - Mark 13:37.

 

v. 26 – “I will restore thy judges as at the first”  - (see Exodus 18:25, 26).

            In the early times there was no bribery, no perversion of justice

            (Jeremiah 2:2, 3). God will bring back a time when the nation will

            renew its first love, and be as it was in the days of Moses and Joshua.

 

v. 28 - sinners - destroyed and confounded, yea “consumed” – Sinners will not be a part

            of that restoration – (heaven)

 

“the oaks which ye have desired” – the worldly attractions which draw the soul away

 from God – the pottage which was exchanged for the birthright (Genesis 25:29-34)

such as wealth, or power, or honors. In the day of suffering, sinners are ashamed of

having been led away by such poor temptations as those to which they have yielded

(Romans 6:21, “What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed?”)

 

What shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul?” asked Jesus.

 

 

 

 

 

 

v.. 31. — “The strong” (literally, the strong one) shall be as tow; i.e. weak

and powerless (Judges 16:9), utterly unable to resist the Divine fiat when it goes forth.

the maker of it” -  An extraordinary mistranslation, since poal never means anything but “work.”

His own acts would light the fire by which the “strong one” would be consumed and perish.

 

Verifying other scriptures:

 

  • “be sure your sin will find you out” – Numbers 32:23
  • “whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” – Galatians 6:7
  • “therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way and be filled with their

        own devices” – Proverbs 1:31