Saturday, April 13, 2019 -
Today I started a fascinating study of Isaiah, which has so many references to the Messiah it has been referred to as the fifth gospel! To prep myself, I went back and re-read the accounts in Chronicles of Kings Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, under whose reigns Isaiah prophesied. What I have always found so alarming when reading Isaiah is the similarities we find between the modern-day United States and the times in which Isaiah addresses.
Keep in mind, too, that there were many false prophets, as in modern times, during this period of Judah’s existence. Of the kings during this time frame, God was only fully displeased with Ahaz, yet they all had their faults. Isaiah, however, comes out of the gate swinging, quoting God’s judgment for the people’s rebellion against Him (1:25), and the sinful nation (1:4). God says “people are weighed down with iniquity, offspring of evildoers, sons who act corruptly! They have despised the Holy One of Israel, they have turned away from Him” (1:4). And he condemns the rulers, as well, comparing the land of Judah to Sodom and Gomorrah (1:9-10). What makes matters still worse, is that the people still sacrifice to God, yet God calls their sacrifices “worthless” and an “abomination” since their hearts are unrepentant, neither contrite (1:11-13), God even hates their participation in the feasts (1:14) and He “hides His eyes” and does not listen to their fervent prayers, because their “hands are covered with blood” (1:14-15).
Think about this, not just the comparisons of the United States as a whole, and the wickedness now considered normal behavior that should be “protected”, but how such behavior has crept into even the church. The degradation of our culture has fast corrupted many within the pews and pulpits, with pornography and divorce as prevalent as the nation as a whole, and even the murder of one’s child for convenience sake has become commonplace among church-going women because society has wrongly claimed it “legal” to do so! Even homosexuality and transgenderism, which is nothing but sinful rebellion against God’s creation, has been embraced as normal, with many young people especially falling to Satan’s lie that they were born that way. Science, too, has proven this to be false, and hence the Biblical narrative to be true, that such behavior is merely sin and rebellion against God.
Yet, Isaiah points to God’s mercy and forgiveness, even for the vilest of behaviors, through God’s Son, Jesus Christ. Our sin, though they become scarlet, will become white as snow (1:18).
Something to remember when reading the prophets is that one must discern whether the writer is referring to current situations, or prophesying about times to come, including about the Messiah’s coming or the end times. Isaiah mixes it up constantly, as we get a picture of the millennial period in chapter 2, as well as the judgment to come. Once again, in chapter 3, Isaiah condemns and pronounces judgment on the leader of Judah with part of the consequences being oppression perpetrated by children, and women ruling over the land (3:12). This is coming true in our nation today. In the same chapter, God condemns the prideful and seductive women who too, will be judged (3:16-26).
Yet, with each warning of judgment, Isaiah makes mention of the coming Messiah (chapter 6) Who will even “wash away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and purged the bloodshed from her midst (4:4). Jesus’ death even covers the sin of shedding innocent blood!
In chapter 5, Isaiah again condemns Judah (His vineyard, 5:7). He talks of the alcoholics (5:11-12, 22), those who do not credit the Lord for His deeds (5:12), the proud (5:15), those who call evil good, and good evil, who substitute light for darkness, and bitter for sweet (5:20), the arrogant (5:21), and those who “justify the wicked for bribes” and “take away the rights of the ones who are in the right” (5:23). Does this not sound like today? Yet God’s anger and judgment will be severe (5:24-30). In chapter six, Isaiah sees God, and Isaiah confesses his sins of “unclean lips” (6:5) which God forgives (6:6-7). Isaiah agrees to be God’s messenger (6:8-9), but in a prophetic statement of Israel’s rejection of the Messiah (6:8-10), says the people just don’t get it (6:11-13). In chapter 7, Isaiah reveals the coming defeat of Judah by Israel, and then addresses Judah directly with a picture, once again, of the coming Messiah (7:14). Then, later in chapter 7 and chapter 8, judgment on the nation as a whole comes, as well as for Israel.
Also in chapter eight, is an interesting passage, “Bind up the testimony, seal the law among my disciples. And I will wait for the Lord Who is hiding His face from the house of Jacob; I will even look eagerly for Him.” I believe this is prophesying the sealing of God’s Word (Scripture) by the last living disciple of Jesus – John – before his death in AD 98 in Ephesus (the center of the Christian world at that time), ushering the hope of Jesus’ return while we continue to wait. In chapter 9, Isaiah again prophesies clearly of the coming Messiah, calling Christ – Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, and Prince of Peace. This passage (9:6) is confirmation that Jesus is God. Yet beginning in verse eight, Isaiah predicts the downfall of the Northern Kingdom due to their pride and arrogance, but they still refuse to repent, and Isaiah calls every one of them “godless and evildoers” (9:17). Yet His hand is still stretched out for them! Verses 18-19 reminds me of the huge California fire we saw in the autumn of 2018. In chapter 10, Isaiah predicts how Assyria will be God’s instrument of judgment, and then Isaiah speaks of the remnant who will later return to Jerusalem to rebuild it. In chapter 11, we are once again introduced to the Messiah (11:1-5), the millennial kingdom (11:6-10), and the second remnant of Israel being restored (11:11-16).
Finally, in chapter 12, we see a wonderful depiction of God’s mercy and salvation through Jesus Christ, for which we can “shout for joy” (12:6). I find it an amazing venture to read Isaiah once again! “And just as it happened in the days of Noah, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of Man; they were eating, they were drinking, they were marrying, they were being given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. It was the same as happened in the days of Lot; they were eating, they were drinking, they were selling, they were planting, they were building; but on the day that Lot went out from Sodom, it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all. It will be just the same on the day that the Son of Man is revealed” (Luke 17:26-30) - Jesus. How this fits so perfectly with Isaiah!