I used to think that Isaiah is such a dreary and weary book until I discovered the treasures in it when I studied it sometime ago at Bible Study Fellowship. BSF is a worldwide bible study class. It is an in-depth, interdenominational Bible study that helps people know God and equips them to effectively serve the Church throughout the world. More about BSF
Today as I start anew reading it from the first chapter, I still find valuable truths – a reminder to discern between religiosity and spirituality; differentiate between talking the walk and walking the talk.
Isaiah 1 The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz concerning Judah and Jerusalem, which he saw during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, kings of Judah. (Who else among the prophets lived thru 4 kings, 4 dynasties prophesying the Word of God? Such a great privilege and a heavy responsibility!)
2 Listen, O heavens, and hear, O earth;
For the Lord speaks,
“Sons I have reared and brought up,
But they have revolted against Me.
3 “An ox knows its owner,
And a donkey its master’s manger,
But Israel does not know,
My people do not understand.”
How tragic and sad it is that animals are better at knowing and acknowledging their masters than human creatures understanding their Creator!
4 Alas, sinful nation,
People weighed down with iniquity,
Offspring of evildoers,
Sons who act corruptly!
They have abandoned the Lord,
They have despised the Holy One of Israel,
They have turned away from Him.
5 Where will you be stricken again,
As you continue in your rebellion?
The whole head is sick
And the whole heart is faint.
God is grieved with the sins of His children – of all doing evil, acting corruptly – corruption: a very familiar word in the Philippine setting or anywhere around the world. God’s people have abandoned/despised (looked down)/turned away from Him. They are rebellious – sick to the core of their being – from head to foot, inside out.
6 From the sole of the foot even to the head
There is nothing sound in it,
Only bruises, welts and raw wounds,
Not pressed out or bandaged,
Nor softened with oil.
7 Your land is desolate,
Your cities are burned with fire,
Your fields—strangers are devouring them in your presence;
It is desolation, as overthrown by strangers.
8 The daughter of Zion is left like a shelter in a vineyard,
Like a watchman’s hut in a cucumber field, like a besieged city.
9 Unless the Lord of hosts
Had left us a few survivors,
We would be like Sodom,
We would be like Gomorrah.
The consequences of sin are evident – bruises, welts, wounds – not treated nor healed; land is desolate, destroyed and taken over by foreign powers – literally like Sodom and Gomorrah – the cities God destroyed by nature because of their wickedness.
God Has Had Enough!
10 Hear the word of the Lord,
You rulers of Sodom;
Give ear to the instruction of our God,
You people of Gomorrah.
11 “What are your multiplied sacrifices to Me?”
Says the Lord.
“I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams
And the fat of fed cattle;
And I take no pleasure in the blood of bulls, lambs or goats.
12 “When you come to appear before Me,
Who requires of you this trampling of My courts?
13 “Bring your worthless offerings no longer,
Incense is an abomination to Me.
New moon and sabbath, the calling of assemblies—
I cannot endure iniquity and the solemn assembly.
14 “I hate your new moon festivals and your appointed feasts,
They have become a burden to Me;
I am weary of bearing them.
15 “So when you spread out your hands in prayer,
I will hide My eyes from you;
Yes, even though you multiply prayers,
I will not listen.
Such a warning to us – God has had enough of our RELIGIOSITY: our sacrifices in the name of ministries – church activities and programs done for the sake of form and praise of people; done for self-fulfillment rather than pleasing God. God has had enough of our offerings of good deeds done in the name of self-gratification – to feel good about ourselves. God has had enough of our prayers – for our own selfish gains. Be aware and beware that whatever acts of religiosity do not count in the sight of the Lord without the spirituality that He desires of us – the motivation that comes from a clean and righteous heart. Are our hands clean?
Your hands are covered with blood.
16 “Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean;
Remove the evil of your deeds from My sight.
Cease to do evil,
17 Learn to do good;
Reprove the ruthless,
Defend the orphan,
Plead for the widow.
Where do we start to make ourselves clean? What evil do we stop doing? We need to learn to do good to stop doing bad. What good is that? The God of kindness, justice and righteousness ( Jer 9:24) wants us to be just and kind and righteous. How? We are to defend the orphan and plead for the widow. Who are they? They are the marginalized, the despised and the needy of society. They are the people who are helpless and defenseless. This is about social justice. This is about God’s people making a difference in the world.
18 “Come now, and let us reason together,”
Says the Lord,
“Though your sins are as scarlet,
They will be as white as snow;
Though they are red like crimson,
They will be like wool.
19 “If you consent and obey,
You will eat the best of the land;
20 “But if you refuse and rebel,
You will be devoured by the sword.”
Truly, the mouth of the Lord has spoken.
God is a God of reason – He is reasonable. What He requires of us, He provided a way for us. Though we are steep in sin, He had made us white as snow – by the power of the blood of Jesus, our sins are washed away. If only we will obey and listen to the word of the Lord, we will reap the benefits of obedience. If we rebel, then we will suffer the consequences. For surely, the mouth of the Lord has spoken. Let us listen and walk the talk!