Thursday, May 1, 2014

Isaiah 1, Part 1: Rebuke and Redemption

Isaiah 1, Part 1: Rebuke and Redemption

Isaiah 1:1-9

God lays upon Isaiah a vision of rebuke and judgement against the nation of Judah and the capital city of Jerusalem. God rebukes their sin and rejects their shallow religion. Yet in his mercy God offers a choice and promises relief and restoration.

God rebukes the nation's sin.

Isaiah 1:1-9 (ESV) 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. Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth; for the LORD has spoken: “Children have I reared and brought up, but they have rebelled against me. The ox knows its owner, and the donkey its master’s crib, but Israel does not know, my people do not understand.” Ah, sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, offspring of evildoers, children who deal corruptly! They have forsaken the LORD, they have despised the Holy One of Israel, they are utterly estranged. 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. 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. If the LORD of hosts had not left us a few survivors, we should have been like Sodom, and become like Gomorrah.

In the vision given to Isaiah God regards the nation of Israel as his children (sons) who have wallowed in ignorance and forsaken him in rebellion. The nation is described as laden with iniquity, offspring of evildoers, corrupt and utterly estranged.

Isaiah first describes the nation as a body sick with bruises and sores. Then Isaiah focuses on the land: the nation is desolate, burned with fire and besieged by enemies. Yet there is hope of mercy. Unlike the fate of the people of Sodom and Gomorrah, God suggests that he will leave a remnant alive in Israel...the nation will not be utterly destroyed.

The people have failed to do what common farm animals are able to do: know their master. "Know" is a general term for seeing and understanding.

Unseeing and unaware, Israel deliberately loosed themselves from God, scorning God's existence, turning their hearts away.

What do you think?

What evidence would show that an ox knows its master? How would that relate to Israel's failure to know God?

What evidence can you point to in your life that supports the assumption that you "know" God?

God allowed desolation, fire storms and attacks from enemies in order to open the people's eyes to their sinful hearts. Does it help you, or does it repulse you, to consider misfortune as a reminder from God that we need to seek him?

What does this passage teach us?