Today we begin a journey through the book of Isaiah. He was a prophet during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah as kings of Israel. Isaiah begins with the following rebukes:
Israel has rebelled against God,
Israel has forgotten God,
Israel is sinful, and
Israel has provoked and made God angry.
He asks the rhetorical question, “Why should you be stricken again?” Israel has notoriously forsaken God many times during its existence, and God has judged them, punished them, and then offered grace to restore them. In this instance, God sees them as faint, with sores unhealed from head to toe. Their country is desolate, cities burned, strangers ruling over and looting them. Isaiah thanks God for a remnant left to Israel, or they would be wiped out completely.
God then tells them to stop offering sacrifices. They are of no use, reprehensible to God because of the depth of their sin and rebellion. He declares He will not receive them, nor hear their prayers. He calls them to wash themselves, and put away their evil. Then the well-known verses are stated:
Isaiah 1:18–20 (NKJV)
18 “Come now, and let us reason together,”
Says the LORD,
“Though your sins are like scarlet,
They shall be as white as snow;
Though they are red like crimson,
They shall be as wool.
19 If you are willing and obedient,
You shall eat the good of the land;
20 But if you refuse and rebel,
You shall be devoured by the sword”;
For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.
God goes on to call the nation a harlot, with mixed silver and watered-down wine. Justice is not served, and rebellion reigns. God then promises to overcome their enemies and purge away their dross (waste). He pledges to restore righteous judges and faithful counselors. Zion will be redeemed, and the false gods and idols will be destroyed. This is what will happen to the unrighteous in that day:
Isaiah 1:30–31 (NKJV)
30 For you shall be as a terebinth whose leaf fades,
And as a garden that has no water.
31 The strong shall be as tinder,
And the work of it as a spark;
Both will burn together,
And no one shall quench them.
This chapter speaks of judgment, destruction, and death. However, it also speaks of grace and redemption. Much of the verbiage of the prophets centers around these principles. Warnings about sin and impending judgement, God’s disgust with sin, and the promise of a better day all find their way into the pages of the prophets. Understand that what God said to Israel in Isaiah, He says to us today. Put away your sins and your idols or judgement is coming. You may not see it at the door, but it is coming. Repent and seek His face for grace, for He offers it gladly. Do not delay. Don’t wait until judgment is on the doorstep!