A Ministry of First Baptist Church Elyria OH

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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.

Isaiah’s ministry spans the reigns of four kings of Judah over a period of around 60 years, but most of his prophetic activity relates to crisis during the reign of Ahaz (circa 732 bc) or the Assyrian king Sennacherib’s invasion and siege of Jerusalem during the reign of Hezekiah (701 bc).

Isaiah’s father, Amoz, was the brother of King Amaziah.  Thus Isaiah would be a member of the royal Davidic family by birth.  With his literary skills and the recording of the history of two Israelite kings it would appear he had scribal abilities.

Judah and Jerusalem The northern kingdom of Israel fell to Assyria in 722 bc, posing an imminent threat to Judah. These events provide the dramatic backdrop for Isaiah’s warning of impending judgment against the southern kingdom.

kings of Judah The full reigns of all four kings covers a period of about a century (790–687 bc). The reference to Uzziah’s death in 6:1 suggests Isaiah’s ministry started around 740 bc. Compare Hos 1:1 and note.

  • The challenge to trust God is an important theme found in Isaiah.
    • As one traces the themes of pride and trust through the messages of this book, one discovers the consistent theological message that:
      • in all kinds of situations God hates pride and will destroy the proud; and
      • what pleases God is for people to trust in him for the forgiveness of sins, for security from their enemies, for guidance in the future, and for their eternal hope.
    • Isaiah means “the salvation of Jehovah” and fitting as would be the theme of the book.

The message was aimed at Judah and Jerusalem and many messages are aimed at the kings and rulers of Judah.

Quote from the New American Commentary (NAC):

PURPOSE. The prophecies within the book of Isaiah address the spiritual, social, economic, political, and personal needs of people in Judah and Jerusalem. His messages call for a consideration of Israel’s current circumstances—why the nation was in trouble—and for the leaders of Judah to stop trusting in themselves or other nations. The oracles often take the rhetorical shape of pointing out the problem and warning of forthcoming dire consequences. The prophet usually suggests a possible alternative action and describes an alternative world that the audience could enjoy if they make the right choices and trust God. Isaiah believed that the present ideology that dominated Judah was misguided on issues of social justice (3:12–15), how to deal with the threat of war (7:1–12; 30:1–5), and how to please God with their worship (1:10–18). His method aimed to unmask the hopelessness of the people and the leader’s false perception of reality (39:1–5; 31:1–3). They were all too often blind and stubborn (6:9–10; 29:9–10), needing God to open their eyes (32:3–4; 25:5).

Structure of chapter 1:

  1. Three views of God’s uncomprehending people (1:2–26)

A   The tragedy of their humiliation: “Ah, sinful nation” (1:2–9)

B    The hypocrisy of their worship: “Bring no more vain offerings” (1:10–20)

C    The corruption of their character: “Everyone loves a bribe” (1:21–26)

  1. The alternatives confronting God’s people (1:27–31)


Isaiah 1:2-9 –The Wickedness of Judah

These verses show us what we would become when left to our selves.

What hinders God’s blessing in the world today is not Hollywood or Washington. What hinders God’s blessing is his own children in rebellion against him.
We may feel “more sinned against than sinning” (King Lear). We may feel that God is picking on us here. “After all, we’re doing the best we can, and life is hard. What is he expecting of us?”

**Wrong Attitude and thus is rebellion!”

Whenever we resist his claims upon us and make peace with our mediocrity, we are rebelling against our Father—which is to say, we live often in open defiance against God. We don’t intend to. But we don’t need to intend to. Defiance is the way we are. We settle for a watered-down experience of God. We don’t even want that much of God. But we think of ourselves as good people, because it feels better that way. We need to be awakened to the prophetic truth. And the truth is, this verse is a cry of pain from Heaven. What wounds the heart of God is that we are as rebellious against him as we are blessed by him.

Quotes:  R. Ortlund

V-2 –  The people could not claim ignorance of what God required of them.  The truth was known and firmly established.   The heaven and earth served as a silent witness to the facts of past covenant history.  God is the speaker here and brings the charges against Israel.

V.3 – the dumb animals were smart enough to realize that they needed to come home at night if they wanted to eat.  These refused to submit to authority yet the maintained their relationship with their owner.  Israel were dumber as they were God’s people and did not seem to know that they needed to maintain their covenant relationship with God.

 4a- AH – signals that it is a lament. 

V.4b – Isaiah sees through the infestation of surface-level sins, down to the root.

Quote:  NAC (New American Commentary)

To forsake the Lord is to treat him as the last resort rather than as the fountainhead. To despise God is to disrelish him, to put a discount on God while valuing other things. And that condition of the heart estranges us from God because of who God is—“the Holy One of Israel.” He is both the Holy One and our Holy One. Jonathan Edwards explains the moral significance of that:

Our obligation to love, honor and obey any being is in proportion to his loveliness, honor and authority. Therefore, sin against God, being a violation of infinite obligations, must be a crime infinitely heinous and so deserving infinite punishment. If there is any evil in sin against God, it is infinite evil.

The mega sin is the forsaking and despising of God and it is common in our churches today.

“Grinding it out, grinding it out” – Is a kind of Christianity that offends God and injures us more than we realize.

Verses: 5 & 6 – Isaiah uses two images to help us see how clueless we can be:

1st – a beaten man who doesn’t feel his own wounds enough to get help.

Why will you still be struck down?  –  Why will you continue to rebel?  –  The whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint.
From the sole of the foot even to the head, there is no soundness in it, but bruises and sores and raw wounds; they are not pressed out or bound up or softened with oil. (vv. 5, 6)

One keeps getting beaten up to a pulp and continues to never learn – we don’t comprehend why or even imagine that things could be better.

Quote:  Raymond Ortlund:

The biggest obstacle to our spiritual progress is that we feel healthy, even successful. We do not sense that we’re like the boxer in the film Rocky—one massive wound from head to toe. We have so little expectation of how invigorating God is that we keep on forsaking and despising the very one who binds up the brokenhearted (Isaiah 61:1). The prophet looks at us in amazement and asks, “Why? If your aim is to make yourselves miserable, haven’t you accomplished that by now? Wouldn’t you rather start to heal?”

Verses:  7 & 8 – 2nd – Our need for God is as an invaded country that does not see its own humiliation.

Your country lies desolate; your cities are burned with fire; in your very presence foreigners devour your land; it is desolate, as overthrown by foreigners. And the daughter of Zion is left like a booth in a vineyard, like a lodge in a cucumber field, like a besieged city.

Quote Raymond Ortlund:

Compare that with how the Bible describes believers at their best: a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that we may proclaim the excellencies of him who called us out of darkness into his marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9). But Isaiah saw God’s people in his day reduced to something like a shack in the midst of a field picked over by invading robbers. The church on the defensive, the church pitiable, exposed, cornered, her influence diminished—helplessness is not God’s will for the people he intends to be redemptive in this world (Deuteronomy 26:18, 19; 28:1). The church needs a Savior too.

V.9 – God’s Unbroken Grace

If the Lord of hosts had not left us a few survivors, we should have been like Sodom, and become like Gomorrah. (Isaiah 1:9)

We are to be awaken to God’s broken heart, our broken strength, and his unbroken grace.

God can wound us or heal us – however He would rather heal us.

Quote Raymond Ortlund:

Isaiah intends to convict us of our sins. But we can feel convicted of a million sins without experiencing any healing from God. The only conviction of sin that ends up healing us is when we see how we have despised and forsaken the very One who died to save us. Conviction of that super-sin opens up healing for all our other sins.

So, what is your conscience telling you? If you will trust God enough to admit it and open up to his grace, he will start healing your broken heart more than you can imagine.


Introduction to Vs. 10-20

Quote Raymond Otlund: Isaiah points the way out of our wars into God’s peace by helping us think in God’s categories. His categories are not traditional versus contemporary worship but, more profoundly, acceptable versus unacceptable worship.
Isaiah 1:10–20 is about two things at once: worship and repentance. In essence, God puts them together this way: “I want you to repent of your worship. Your worship is unacceptable unless it is the overflow of repentance.”

What is repentance? Repentance is not morbid introspection. It is not self-punishment. True repentance is a privilege, given by the Holy Spirit, opening our eyes not only to how costly our sins are but, more searchingly, how evil our sins are. Repentance is not afraid of wholesome self-suspicion, because it feels an urgency to be right with God at any cost. Repentance is a power giving us traction for newness of life. It isn’t piecemeal or selective, doctoring up this problem or that. As Martin Luther taught in the first of his 95 Theses, “The whole life of believers should be penitence.” Repentance is an honest new self renouncing the shifty old self. And, as Isaiah teaches here, repentance turns from mere forms of worship, whatever they are, to authenticity with God.

Isaiah chapter 1 is holding before us a mirror, so that we can see ourselves more realistically. The rest of the book shows how God saves people like us, so that we become the New Jerusalem. But Isaiah begins the good news of the gospel with the bad news of the gospel, because it’s when we place ourselves under God’s judgment that we experience his salvation.

Just as chapter 1 introduces the book, verse 2 sets the tone for that chapter: “Children have I reared and brought up, but they have rebelled against me.” The verb “rebelled” also appears in the last verse of the book (66:24). The whole prophecy is framed within these two appearances of “rebelled.” Rebellion against God is our problem. But God saves rebels. And true worship is rebels like us waving the white flag of surrender before our rightful Lord in repentance.

Isaiah is portraying God’s uncomprehending people. Now he exposes the hypocrisy of their worship. His analysis takes four steps: confrontation (1:10), accusation (1:11–15), invitation (1:16–18), decision (1:19, 20).