First Sermon of Isaiah
Dr. Joe Temple

Introduction

Please open your Bibles to the book of Isaiah, chapter 1:

Isaiah 1

1The 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.

This first verse represents the title of the entire book. It is, “The vision of Isaiah concerning Judah and Jerusalem, which God gave to him during the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah.”

Isaiah 1

1The 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.
2Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth: for the LORD hath spoken, I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me.
3The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master's crib: but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider.
4Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters: they have forsaken the LORD, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward.

These first three verses represent God's denunciation of the nation of Israel at the particular time that Isaiah was speaking. We continue reading with verse 5:

Isaiah 1

5Why should ye be stricken any more? ye will revolt more and more: the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint.
6From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores: they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment.
7Your country is desolate, your cities are burned with fire: your land, strangers devour it in your presence, and it is desolate, as overthrown by strangers.
8And the daughter of Zion is left as a cottage in a vineyard, as a lodge in a garden of cucumbers, as a besieged city.
9Except the LORD of hosts had left unto us a very small remnant, we should have been as Sodom, and we should have been like unto Gomorrah.

These verses of Scripture represent the discipline of God upon the nation of Israel, present as far as Isaiah's day is concerned, and future as far as Isaiah himself was concerned. We continue reading with verse 10:

Isaiah 1

10Hear the word of the LORD, ye rulers of Sodom; give ear unto the law of our God, ye people of Gomorrah.
11To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me? saith the LORD: I am full of the burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts; and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he goats.
12When ye come to appear before me, who hath required this at your hand, to tread my courts?
13Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting.
14Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth: they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear them.
15And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood.
16Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil;
17Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow.
18Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.
19If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land:
20But if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.

These verses of Scripture represent the demands which God makes upon the nation of Israel in relation to the discipline that He has suggested. We continue reading in verse 21:

Isaiah 1

21How is the faithful city become an harlot! it was full of judgment; righteousness lodged in it; but now murderers.
22Thy silver is become dross, thy wine mixed with water:
23Thy princes are rebellious, and companions of thieves: every one loveth gifts, and followeth after rewards: they judge not the fatherless, neither doth the cause of the widow come unto them.
24Therefore saith the LORD, the LORD of hosts, the mighty One of Israel, Ah, I will ease me of mine adversaries, and avenge me of mine enemies:
25And I will turn my hand upon thee, and purely purge away thy dross, and take away all thy tin:
26And I will restore thy judges as at the first, and thy counsellors as at the beginning: afterward thou shalt be called, The city of righteousness, the faithful city.
27Zion shall be redeemed with judgment, and her converts with righteousness.
28And the destruction of the transgressors and of the sinners shall be together, and they that forsake the LORD shall be consumed.
29For they shall be ashamed of the oaks which ye have desired, and ye shall be confounded for the gardens that ye have chosen.
30For ye shall be as an oak whose leaf fadeth, and as a garden that hath no water.
31And the strong shall be as tow, and the maker of it as a spark, and they shall both burn together, and none shall quench them.

These verses of Scripture represent the solemn dirge which Isaiah sang when he realized the terrible condition, the inevitable judgment, that was to fall upon these people.

You will remember in the analysis of the book of Isaiah that we presented, it was suggested to us that the first six chapters of the book record for us the prophecies and events which occurred in the reign of Uzziah and possibly in the reign of Jotham his son, for Jotham reigned as regent for Uzziah, because Uzziah had been stricken with leprosy when he dared to stand in the temple and offer incense before the holy altar of God.

You may say, “There are just these few chapters. Is this all that Isaiah had to say in something like a thirty-year period?” No, it is not all that Isaiah had to say, but it is all that the Holy Spirit of God was pleased to preserve in sacred writ for our benefit in this particular hour. If we look at a more detailed analysis of these first six chapters, we will discover that God has been pleased to preserve two sermons of Isaiah during this period. One of those sermons is contained in the first chapter. Another sermon is found in chapters 2, 3, and 4. Those are divided chapters in your Bible, but they were all one address delivered at one particular time. Chapter 5 represents a song which Isaiah composed and sang in relation to the nation of Israel, and chapter 6 represents a personal testimony of the prophet, about which we will have more to say when we come to that particular portion of the Word of God.

We now want to notice in detail this first sermon in the book of Isaiah, the one which God was pleased to preserve for us, because in this first sermon we are going to find the seed of everything that is discussed in the first thirty-nine chapters of the book of Isaiah in detail. The seed is here, and I suggested the various seeds by the comments I made when we came to the conclusion of each one of the major paragraphs which the translators have indicated in your Bibles by the symbol of the paragraph. In this particular instance they have followed the original text very well.

The second sermon, in chapters 2-4, are going to have in it the seed of everything that is going to be said in the last section of the book of Isaiah—that section that begins with chapter 40 and continues through chapter 66.

You can well see then, I trust, why the Holy Spirit has been pleased to preserve these two sermons. This first sermon which Isaiah preached concerned the nation of Israel, but the Bible is one of abiding principles, and we find principles in this chapter that could be applied to our own nation or any nation, and we find principles in this chapter that could be applied to individual hearts and lives, if we are pleased so to do.

God's Denunciation Against Israel

I would like for you to notice with me the denunciation that God uttered against the nation of Israel. In the second verse, He called Heaven and earth to witness this denunciation which was to be delivered by His prophet. This is not an unusual thing. Frequently through the Old Testament we have prophets asking Heaven and earth to witness the denunciation which is about to be delivered.

The denunciation consists of recognizing a number of sins which God felt this people were responsible for. The first one, in the second and third verses, was the sin of ingratitude. You will notice in verse 2, He said:

Isaiah 1

2Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth: for the LORD hath spoken, I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me.

“I have nourished them. I have caused them to grow. I have given them everything they have needed, but they have rebelled against Me, and in this rebellion they are worse than the ordinary beast of the fields.”

Yes, Isaiah even makes it stronger than that. They are worse than the most stupid of the animal kingdom, because in verse 3, we read:

Isaiah 1

3The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master's crib: but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider.

What is this that we are saying? “Even the ox knows who feeds him. Even the ass knows who puts the feed in his crib, and the ox and the ass will recognize their masters, being subject to them, if for no other reason than they are provided for. But man is so stupid and so full of himself that he does not even consider that everything that he has, has come from the hand of God. He does not even consider that the very breath that he breathes is due to the mercy of God.”

It is often said that individuals can do as they wish. If they want to live for God, they may. If they don't want to, it is their business. How often have you heard someone say that? How often, perhaps, have you been guilty of saying some such thing? “It is my businesss—my relationship to God.”

The Burden of Unconfessed Sin

That is not true. It has never been true, and it never will be true. God points that out when He mentions another sin of which this people were guilty. He said:

Isaiah 1

4Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters: they have forsaken the LORD, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward.

Notice what He said about them. “They were laden with iniquity.” What does this mean? It means that they were guilty of something that some of us are guilty of at times. They were guilty of letting sin pile up without confessing it and without acknowledging it until sin had become a tremendous burden to them.

Our Bible says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (I John 1:9). Our Catholic friends wait until they can go to confession before they confess their sins, and they pile up until they do go to confession. Our Protestant friends are nearly as bad, for they wait until they can go to church on Sunday morning and walk down the aisle and rededicate their lives or do something to indicate that they want to get closer to God.

Beloved, the secret is confessing your sins as soon as the Holy Spirit taps you on the shoulder, figuratively speaking, and lets you know that sin has been committed. Confessing is simply agreeing with God that sin is sin, and when you do that, sin doesn't pile up, but there are many of God's dear children today who are out of fellowship with Him. They are miserable. They don't know why things are going wrong with them. They don't know why they are under so great an oppressive weight. The reason is that they are laden with sin that has never been confessed.

You will notice what else he says about these people. He said, “They were a seed of evil doers, children who are corrupters.” What He is saying when He said they were a seed of evil doers is that their sin goes back to their parents. They are the offspring of individuals who lived in sin, and they are children (get this; it is very important) who are corrupters, for they have not only sinned themselves, but they have corrupted those with whom they associate.

I would like to pause long enough for that to sink into our hearts, for that is one of the worst things about sin. That is one of the worst things about people out of fellowship. It is not only you, the individual, who suffers; but those with whom you associate suffer too, for you corrupt them.

God's Discipline Upon Israel

He goes on in His denunciation, you will notice in this same verse, by saying, “They have forsaken the LORD, and they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger.” Notice the phrase, “the Holy One of Israel.” Get familiar with it. We have already called it to your attention in the analysis of the book of Isaiah. It is peculiar to Isaiah, used some twenty-five times; and it is the one phrase that binds the book together, because it is used in the first part of the book of Isaiah as well as in the last part. It is a name that Isaiah has coined for God. Perhaps the reason that he coined it is that he was dealing with the unholiness of men, and he would emphasize the holiness of God.

What is this thing that he said they did? He said, “They have forsaken the LORD.” How have they forsaken Him? “They have provoked the Holy One of Israel to anger.” What does that mean? It means that they have despised God. It means, literally, that they have spat upon Him; and God becomes angry when He realizes they have despised Him in this manner. He tells them that this despising, this blasphemy, cannot go unattended.

The last thing that He says about them in His denunciation is that they have turned away from God. Will you notice what it says? “They have turned away from God.” God never forsakes, but men forsake Him, and the fact that God never forsakes is indicated in the next paragraph which represents the disciplining process of God both as a process and as a promise, both as related to the present and related to the future.

I am aware of the fact that some Bible scholars read these verses and interpret them as describing the sinful condition of the nation of Israel, but I do not believe you can do that if you sit down and analyze the chapter in relation to all of the subject matter. Verses 5 and 6 are not talking about the condition of the nation of Israel because of sin; they are talking about the condition of the nation of Israel because of the disciplining hand of God upon them. Look at these verses. “Why should you be stricken any more?”

Israel's Revolt In the Face of Discipline

We have parents here. We have children. Have some of you as parents ever said, “What is the use of whipping them? I've whipped them, and I have whipped them, and it doesn't seem to help. What is the use of doing it anymore? What is the use of telling them ‘no' any more?” Some parents have said that. I say this reverently. God says it. God says it about the nation of Israel, because we are thinking about her particularly, “Why should you be stricken anymore? What is the point of any more discipline? He will revolt more and more. You just keep on revolting, even in the face of discipline.”

Let's pause for a moment and let us recognize an eternal principle. If a man's heart is right with God, the disciplining hand of God always turns him back to God; but if a man's heart is not right with God, the disciplining hand of God will drive him farther and farther away. How many times have you recognized that some individual seems to have had more trials than any person could possibly bear, and instead of those trials turning him to God, they are turning him away from God? That is the way it was with Israel.

Notice what He said:

Isaiah 1

5…the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint.

These are physical terms. They were terms that were used to describe the body. They should not be interpreted in a spiritual fashion. The nation of Israel had been disciplined so that the head had felt the blows, and the heart is faint. The word translated heart here was a medical term that was used for all of the section of the body from the neck down to the feet. The whole body has been afflicted from the sole of the foot even unto the head. There is no soundness in it, which literally means there is hardly a place that the strap has not fallen.

What God is saying here is, “I don't know where I can find another place to discipline you. I don't know where I can find another place to apply the rod. There is hardly a place that hasn't been touched. The whole body is wounds and bruises, wounds that have been opened, and contusions, and putrifying sores.” The phrase, putrifying sores , really means “running sores, open wounds that are running, and they have not been closed.” That is, nobody has put the lips of the wound together and tied it in some fashion that it might be healed. “Neither has it been mollified with ointment.” Neither has any kind of ointment been placed upon the wound. You are still in the process of discipline, but you are still revolting.”

Isaiah's Prophecy of Israel's Condition

Look at verses 7-9. When you look at those verses, realize that you are looking at prophecy, prophecy as far as Isaiah is concerned, because Isaiah, since he was given the vision by God, looked not only at the present condition which we have just described, but looked down through the ages, some two-hundred years, and saw the nation of Israel in this sad, forsaken state.

Perhaps there is a question in your mind. That question is, “I don't understand that. Isaiah says, ‘Your country is desolate. Your cities are burned with fire.' He says it was true right then.” I suggest you read the book of II Kings, chapter 26, for the history of the nation of Israel right at this time, and you will find that Israel, under the reign of Uzziah, was enjoying greater prestige and greater glory than she had in all the years since the days of Solomon. The reign of Uzziah was almost equal to that of Solomon; so you see, this couldn't be related to Israel in Isaiah's day.

The critics who do not believe in the inspiration of the Bible recognize that, for you can't deny it. So what do they say? They say, “Well, of course, you know there are many authors to the book of Isaiah, and some editor made a mistake and injected this in this particular portion. They shouldn't have done it. It should have been over in the last part of the book of Isaiah.” It is amazing to what lengths men will go to disavow the inspiration of the Word of God.

Actually, the verb form which is presented as a present tense in our translation is related to what we call the prophetic future . It is a verb tense that indicates something in the future as actually being present, because the prophet sees it that way. Remember, he was seeing the whole thing from the end to the beginning, and so he was talking about the condition of the country as it would be two hundred years hence.

I am going to suggest that we read it with the future in mind.

Isaiah 1

7Your country is desolate, your cities are burned with fire: your land, strangers devour it in your presence, and it is desolate, as overthrown by strangers.
8And the daughter of Zion [the city of Jerusalem] is left as a cottage in a vineyard, as a lodge in a garden of cucumbers, as a besieged city.

The daughter of Zion will be left as a besieged city. Then he gives two illustrations of what he is talking about. He said, “She will be like a cottage in a vineyard.” We don't know what that means, but Isaiah knew what it meant, and the people of his day knew what it meant. When the vineyards became laden with grapes, and it was necessary to watch over them to keep the fowls of the air from plucking the grapes before they were ready to be picked, they would erect a little shed—nothing more than a few branches with a few pegs in the ground with some branches spread over them, a temporary abiding place. They didn't intend to live in it permanently. They didn't intend for it to last forever. God is saying that's what the city of Jerusalem is going to become, a temporary abiding place.

Then, as a lodge in a garden of cucumbers. This is a figure of speech that is practically the same. It would be better to use the word melon for the word cucumber , because that is the real meaning of the original word. Here is a garden of melons. What do they do? They erect a little shed for a guard to stay in so that nobody will steal the melons until they are harvested. It is all a temporary thing.

What is he saying? “The city of Jerusalem, the daughter of Zion, the capital of the kingdom that has meant so much, will one day be only a temporary abiding place. The nation cannot look upon it as the capitol anymore.”

It is wonderful to notice how the mercy of God is injected in the judgment of God. Notice verse 9:

Isaiah 1

9Except the LORD of hosts had left unto us a very small remnant, [if God does not in mercy leave us a small remnant] we should have been as Sodom, and we should have been like unto Gomorrah.

Sodom and Gomorrah were completely destroyed, but in the mercy of God, He left a small group. When we get to the time that this prophecy is fulfilled, we shall find that it is true. The vast majority of the nation was taken into captivity, but the Assyrian king left a little handful of people there to temporarily maintain the city, which he himself had devastated.

Empty Performance of Religious Ritual

Isaiah was speaking of the disciplining hand of God, not only present, but the future. On the basis of this discipline, Isaiah makes some demands of the rulers of the nation of Israel when he says, in verse 10:

Isaiah 1

10Hear the word of the LORD, ye rulers of Sodom; give ear unto the law of our God, ye people of Gomorrah.

He is saying, “You are as sinful as Sodom and Gomorrah. You ought to be destroyed, but God, in His mercy and in His grace, will leave a small remnant.” He said to them, “I want to make some demands of you. I want to know first,” in verse 11, “to what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto Me,” saith the LORD. Then in the rest of verse 11 and in verses 12 and 13, he describes all of the various kinds of sacrifices and feast days which were observed by the nation of Israel. When you have time, you might want to take these three verses and compare them with the book of Leviticus and you will find every sacrifice and every feast day mentioned in these verses described in detail in the book of Leviticus.

What Isaiah, the spokesman for God, is saying is, “Why are you going through all of this religious ritual? Why are you going ahead bringing the sacrifices when your heart is not in it? Why are you continuing to tread the courts of the temple and observing the special feast days when you really don't mean anything by it?”

Notice what he says in verse 13:

Isaiah 1

13Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting.

That phrase, “I cannot away with,” is not as happy a translation as it could be. What God is saying, literally, is, “I can't stand any more of it. I am sick of it. I have all of the empty performance that I want. I don't want anymore. I am weary with bearing this false profession.”

Did you notice Isaiah's play on words? He said, “The nation of Israel was weary because they were laden with their sins.” And he said, “I am weary, laden with your false profession.” There is nothing that sickens the heart of God as much as an empty performance of religion.

Empty Formalism In Modern Churches

He was talking to Israel. I said that there is a principle here. It could be applied to our nation today. Do you realize that the nation of Israel was very punctilious in the observance of every religious ordinance, but their heart was far from God? There are more people in church today than in any hour in the history of our country. Think about that for a moment. There are more people who are turning toward God and less real heart-consciousness of God than at any other day. We are in the condition that Israel was in. Let's make it even more personal than that, and let us ask the Spirit of God to minister to our hearts the words of this text, and say to ourselves, “Are we treading the courts of the temple needlessly? Are we bringing the sacrifice to God, figuratively speaking, without any real reason so to do?” Somebody says, “Well, I really don't know. I really don't know whether mine is an empty formalism are not.”

There is a good way for you to find out. Look at verse 15:

Isaiah 1

15And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood.

He was speaking of the Old Testament custom of lifting up hands to God in prayer. He said, “When you lift up your hands to Me, I am going to look away. I'm not even going to look at you. I'm not going to answer your prayers, because your hands are full of the blood of oppression.”

An Invitation to Cleansing From Sin

Having made very clear to them what He had in mind, He makes the demands that are recorded in verses 16 and 17. Either one of them make an excellent text for any of us in the right relationship. Notice what he said:

Isaiah 1

16Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil;
17Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow.

These were all things that they were neglecting. How could they do this by themselves? How can you? Have you ever tried to put away evil from yourself in your own strength? Have you ever tried to cease to do evil and learn to do good? You know how utterly impossible it is. And that is the reason he gives the precious invitation of verse 18, where He said:

Isaiah 1

18Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.

The word reason is a word that is related to the courtroom. God is saying to the nation of Israel, “Let's go to trial. Let's have a trial. Let's have the case clearly presented. Let's have My case presented. Let's have your case presented. Let's reason together.”

How do you feel about that? Job said, “When I think about that, it scares me to death. I, reasoning with God? I, pleading my case before God? How could I possibly do that?” What does God say to encourage the nation of Israel and everyone? Look at that verse again:

Isaiah 1

18…though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.

What does He mean? “Though your sins be as scarlet.” Look at the word scarlet . Literally, that is “double-dyed,” because this word scarlet was used for a color that was a fast color. In those days they didn't have all of the inventions that we have today, and it was difficult for colors to stay in, but this scarlet color was made from crushing a worm. If you crushed enough of them, you had enough to color the cloth, and when it was colored you never got the color out. No human hand could get that color out. They began to refer to it as double-dyed , and Isaiah uses that illustration when he said to the people, “Though your sins be beyond all human eradication, come to me and I will make your heart as white as snow,” which is a term in the Bible to speak of absolute purity, because the atmosphere was not contaminated as it is in our day. Snow was the whitest thing that was known.

What does he say next? “Though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” Is He saying the same thing? No. This word red describes a color that was made from the root of a tree, which you could put in a piece of garment if you didn't want it to stay very long. They didn't have a lot of materials in those days, so if they wanted a certain color for a certain occasion, they would use this particular dye, then they could wash it out and put in another color.

The marvelous thing about this color is that it did not leave any stain. It did not leave any indication of its presence after it had been washed away. Do you see what God is saying? “Though your sins are beyond all human eradication, you come to me and I will eradicate them, and there won't be a stain left.” Isn't that wonderful? What God can do for the nation of Israel, He can do for you, if you are willing to let Him.

In the next verse—it must not be associated with verse 18—we read:

Isaiah 1

19If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land:
20But if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.

He is saying to those whose hearts have been cleansed, He is saying to those who have been made white as snow and have been made white as wool, “Now if you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land.” Literally, “You can stay in this land which I have given you, and I will feed you, but if you refuse and rebel, you can expect My disciplining hand to fall upon you.”

God's principle is still the same. Your sins are forgiven, because He is a forgiving God, and after He forgives your sins, if you are disobedient He is going to deal with you in discipline. There is no way to escape the disciplining hand of God.

How do you feel about this invitation? If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, would you respond to it? As you look back over your own experience and remember how you were before you knew the Lord, would you have responded to an invitation like this? Many of us would have. Certainly with the knowledge that we have now, we would say, “Certainly, we would have, had we known then what we know now.”

Isaiah's Commission

Isaiah was an unusual creature. When we get to chapter 6, we are going to notice his commission. It was probably given to him before he ever started, but it was reserved for chapter 6, as far as discussion is concerned. Do you know what was related to Isaiah's commission? “Isaiah, you are going to preach your heart out. You're going to be a faithful witness, but not one person is going to respond to your message. It is not going to do one bit of good.” Why do it then? Well, simply because God must not be left without a witness. God is just, and He will see to it that every man is warned. Isaiah warned these people. He knew within his own heart they were not going to respond, and so he entered into the lamentation, to the dirge, that is recorded in verse 21, where he said:

Isaiah 1

21How is the faithful city become an harlot! it was full of judgment; [that means “justice”] righteousness lodged in it; but now murderers.
22Thy silver is become dross, thy wine mixed with water: [there is nothing pure any more. Everything is mixed up together]
23Thy princes are rebellious, and companions of thieves: every one loveth gifts, and followeth after rewards: they judge not the fatherless, neither doth the cause of the widow come unto them.
24Therefore saith the LORD, the LORD of hosts, the mighty One of Israel, Ah, I will ease me of mine adversaries, and avenge me of mine enemies:

God's patience has run out. And what is Isaiah saying here? Because he knew that they would not repent, because he knew that they would not turn to God, he said:

Isaiah 1

25And I will turn my hand upon thee, and purely purge away thy dross, and take away all thy tin:

If you will substitute the word alloy for tin , you will have a better translation. He had just said that the wine was mixed with water, and the silver had become dross. Now he said, “When I get through, I will purge away the dross, and I will take away all the alloy.”

God's Purpose In Discipline

This is the purpose of discipline. God does not discipline purely to punish. God disciplines in order that we might be as He would have us be. The nation of Israel that had slipped so tremendously was going to be disciplined in the future until a new state of affairs was going to occur. What was that new state of affairs? Look at verse 26:

Isaiah 1

26And I will restore thy judges as at the first, and thy counsellors as at the beginning…

What does that mean? They knew. They didn't need an explanation because they were familiar with their history, but we need an explanation. There was a period of time when the nation of Israel was a theocracy. It was under the direct rule of God, at the hand of individual judges who looked directly to God to convey the message to the people. But the people got tired of that. They said, “We want to be like the other nations of the world. We want a king.” Samuel, the prophet of God said, “Please don't ask for a king. You have the best setup you have ever had. God is your king, and that is enough.” They said, “No, we want to be like other people. We want to have kings.” So God gave them a king, and all of their trouble stems from that.

God's Promise to Israel

God is saying in this verse of Scripture, “Now, you have had your change. I let you have what you wanted, and you see where it has led you. I'm going to purge away all of the dross, and I am going to restore the judges as at the first, and thou shalt be called the city of righteousness, the faithful city.” Verse 27:

Isaiah 1

27Zion shall be redeemed with judgment, and her converts with righteousness.

Do you remember the Apostle Peter stopped the Lord Jesus Christ one day, and said, “What are we going to get out of following you? We have left everything to follow. What are we going to get for it?”

The Lord Jesus Christ said, “Well, at the present time you are not going to get anything much; but in the regeneration, in the time of restoration, in the period when I will restore the judges of Israel, you will sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel and ministering the government of the nation of Israel.”

Nestled here in the midst of this solemn dirge is a promise that God is going to purge out of the nation of Israel all of its unrighteousness. His millennial reign is going to be established, and the twelve apostles of the Lamb will be the judges of the nation of Israel at that particular time, but this will only happen after a process of judgment. So we read in verse 28:

Isaiah 1

28And the destruction of the transgressors and of the sinners shall be together, and they that forsake the LORD shall be consumed.
29For they shall be ashamed of the oaks which ye have desired, and ye shall be confounded for the gardens that ye have chosen.

What is this oaks and gardens ? It is a reference to groves of oak trees and gardens in which the most despicable acts of idolatry imaginable were practiced by the nation of Israel.

It is hard to believe, but when the nation of Israel was in the sad state that Isaiah was talking about in the beginning denunciation of this book, they were even sacrificing their own children in oak groves, and they were even drinking their blood and eating their flesh. The people of God who had all the truth had slipped that far away from God. Look at verses 30 and 31:

Isaiah 1

30For ye shall be as an oak whose leaf fadeth, and as a garden that hath no water [this speaks for itself] .
31And the strong shall be as tow, and the maker of it as a spark, and they shall both burn together, and none shall quench them.

What is tow ? It is the bark off of an oak tree. They used to shred the bark off and put a spark to it and create a fire. What is Isaiah saying? He is taking an ordinary, everyday practice and saying, “You people will be the tow, and your sins will be the spark, and you will be consumed in the fire of God's judgment, and nothing, absolutely nothing, shall quench it.”

This is the sad end to which the nation of Israel was to come. Judgment is

the inevitable fate of any individual who turns his back on God.


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