Click to donate today!
JUDAH AN UNCLEAN PEOPLE
God judges Judah (1:1-9)
The opening chapter introduces most of the main issues that the prophet is to deal with, and therefore is a summary of the overall message of the book. The scene is one of judgment. God is the judge, his people the accused, heaven and earth the witnesses. The charge is that Judah has rebelled against God. Even animals are grateful for what their masters do for them, but the people of Judah show no gratitude to their heavenly Father (1:1-3).
Isaiah declares that the sinful people are more than ungrateful to God; they despise him (4). God has punished them repeatedly by sending enemy armies to attack them, with the aim that they see their sin and return to him. His punishment has been so consistent that Judah is likened to a person who has been beaten and flogged till he is bruised and cut from head to toe. But Judah is still stubbornly unrepentant (5-8). It would have been destroyed long ago, had not God shown mercy on account of the few faithful believers scattered throughout the nation (9).
Religious and moral corruption (1:10-31)
No doubt the people thought they were pleasing God by offering sacrifices, attending public worship services, and keeping the special Israelite feasts; but because their everyday lives were full of sin, their religious exercises were hateful to God. No matter how correct the form of worship, God will not accept it unless the people show a corresponding zeal for right behaviour (10-15).
The people must turn from their selfishness and treachery, and begin to show love and honesty in their everyday dealings if they want to be pleasing to God (16-17). He is ready and able to cleanse them, but whether he will depends on them. They must be willing to stop pleasing themselves and obey him instead. God wants them to enjoy prosperity in their land, but if they refuse to change their ways they will meet only disaster (18-20).
Jerusalem is so morally filthy that it is likened to a prostitute. The city that was once pure is now unclean. It is like silver that has become covered with dirt, like wine that has been watered down. The rulers and judges are corrupt, favouring the rich in return for bribes, but ignoring the poor and denying them justice (21-23).
God loves Jerusalem (Zion), and therefore he will not tolerate this wrongdoing. He will act in judgment against the rebels, like a refining fire that burns away the rubbish and leaves the metal pure. Corrupt rulers and judges will be replaced by those who are just. Jerusalem, instead of being like a prostitute, will be like a faithful wife (24-26). In the end the righteous will triumph, while the wicked will be overthrown (27-28).
People engage in heathen worship in the hope of increasing their prosperity, but in the end they will find that it does them no good (29). They are proud of the power they have gained through their evil ways, but they will find that, unless they turn from their corruption and idolatry, this power will be the means of their destruction. It will be like a spark that sets a forest on fire (30-31).
From the early days of their settlement in Canaan, the Israelites had been led astray by the worship of local gods, collectively known as Baalim (the Hebrew plural of Baal). Joshua warned the original settlers of the dangers of idolatry (Joshua 24:14-15), but by the time of the judges it was a major national problem. It continued to be a problem throughout the history of the Israelite kingdom, and was in fact one of the chief reasons for the captivity of both Israel and Judah. Because Isaiah, like most of the prophets, refers to Baal worship often, present-day readers need to have some understanding of how Baal worship functioned if they are to understand the book of Isaiah. For further details see introductory notes to Judges, sub-heading ‘The religion of the Canaanites’.
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on Isaiah 1". "Fleming's Bridgeway Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Fifth Sunday after Epiphany