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Bible Commentaries

Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures
Isaiah 1

 

 

Verse 1

Isaiah 1:1 — Title - Isaiah 1:1 serves as the title of the book of Isaiah , introducing the author and the time period in which his collection of prophecies were uttered.

Isaiah 1:1 The 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.

Isaiah 1:1"The vision of Isaiah" - Word Study on "vision" - Gesenius says the Hebrew word "vision" ( חָזוֹן) (H 2377) means, "a divine vision, a divine Revelation , an oracle." Strong says it means, "a sight, a dream, a Revelation , an oracle," and comes from the primitive root ( חָזָה) (H 2372), which means, "to gaze at, to perceive, to contemplate (with pleasure), to have a vision of."

Word Study on "Isaiah" - Gesenius says the Hebrew name ( יְשַׁעְיָהוּ) (H 3470) means "the salvation of Jehovah." Strong says it means, "Jah has saved," and is derived from the primitive root "Yasha" ( יָשַׁע) (H 3467), which means, "to be safe, to free, succor," and he Hebrew word "Yahh" ( יָהּ) (H 3050), which is a contraction of the name "YHWH" ( יהוה) (H 3068).

Comments- As his name implies, Isaiah's prophecies foretell of Christ's coming in several passages of this book, especially of His birth and Crucifixion:

Isaiah 7:14, "Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a Song of Solomon , and shall call his name Immanuel."

Isaiah 9:6, "For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace."

Isaiah 52:12 thru Isaiah 53:12 deals with Christ's crucifixion.

Isaiah 1:1 — "the son of Amoz" - Word Study on "Amoz" - The father of Isaiah was called "Amoz" ( אָמֹוץ) (H 531) and not "Amos" ( עָמֹוס) (H 5986). Strong says this name means, "strong," and comes from the primitive root ( אָמֵץ) (H 553), which means, "to alert." The Enhanced Strong says this name occurs 13times in the Old Testament and refers to only one individual.

Comments- This name is only found in the phrase "Isaiah the son of Amoz." Thus, nothing is positively known about his life. However, ancient Jewish tradition says that he was the brother of Amaziah, the tenth king of Judah (837-809 B.C.). 13]

13] R. F. Youngblood, F. F. Bruce, R. K. Harrison, and Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nelson"s New Illustrated Bible Dictionary, rev. ed. (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1995), in Libronix Digital Library System, v 21c [CD-ROM] (Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp, 2000-2004), "Amoz."

Isaiah 1:1 — "which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah" - Isaiah's ministry extends through the reigns of four kings of Judah:

1. Uzziah- Eleventh king of Judah 809-8 to 757-6 B.C, reigned 52years.

2. Jotham- Twelfth king of Judah, 758 - 741 B.C, reigned 16 years.

3. Ahaz- Thirteenth king of Judah, 741-726 B.C, reigned about 16 years.

4. Hezekiah- Fourteenth king of Judah, 726 - 701 B.C, reigned 25 years.

Dates and times have been measured differently throughout the course of history. Today's western civilization uses the Roman calendar and its citizens wear watches to know the time of day; thus, this culture is "time conscience." Other, more primitive cultures tend to be more "event conscience." This simply means that westerners organize their day around a clock, while primitive cultures mark time by significant events in their lives. After reading Isaiah 1:1, the first thing our mind does as a Bible student is to try and put dates with the period that is described in this passage, but not so in ancient cultures. Even today, in African societies, people do not always know their birthday by the day in the year they were born, but by an event, usually centered around the event of their local king. This is because these people are more conscience of particular events than they are of time. Many of these Old Testament prophets were dated around the events of the kings of Israel and Judah, rather than by a date. Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, the president of Uganda, 1986 to present, does not know his birthday. Rather, he just knows that he was born in the year that King Kahaya II, the king of the Anchole tribe, died, which was now known to date 1944. 14]

14] Yoweri K. Museveni, Sowing the Mustard Seed (London: Macmillan Publishers Ltd, 1997), 1.

Isaiah 1:1Comments - The Title of the Book- Isaiah 1:1 does not simply introduction Isaiah's first prophecy ( Isaiah 1:2-31); but rather, it serves as a summary of the entire collection of prophecies found in the book of Isaiah. The Old Testament prophet ministered to Israel and Jerusalem for approximately sixty years during the reign of four kings of Judah. Thus, this opening verse serves as a title for the book.

Comments - The Manner in which Divine Oracles were Delivered unto the Prophets- God spoke through the Old Testament prophets in various ways, as the author of the epistle of Hebrews says, "God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets…" ( Hebrews 1:1). The Lord spoke divine oracles ( מַשָּׂא) through the Old Testament prophets in three general ways, as recorded in the book of Hosea , "I have also spoken by the prophets, and have multiplied visions; I have given symbols through the witness of the prophets." ( Hosea 12:10) (NKJV) In other words, the prophets spoke to Israel through the words they received, they described divine visions to the people, and they acted out as divine drama an oracle from the Lord.

(1) The Word of the Lord Came to the Prophets- God gave the prophets divine pronouncements to deliver to the people, as with Hosea 1:1. The opening verses of a number of prophetic books say, "the word of the Lord came to the prophet…" Thus, these prophets received a divine utterance from the Lord.

(2) The Prophets Received Divine Visions- God gave the prophets divine visions ( חָזוֹן), so they prophesied what they saw ( חזה) (to see). Thus, these two Hebrew words are found in Isaiah 1:1, Obadiah 1:1, Nahum 1:1, and Habakkuk 1:1. Ezekiel saw visions ( מַרְאָה) of God.

(3) God Told the Prophets to Deliver Visual Aids as Symbols of Divine Oracles- God asked the prophets to demonstrate divine oracles to the people through symbolic language. For example, Isaiah walked naked for three years as a symbol of Assyria's dominion over Egypt and Ethiopia ( Isaiah 20:1-6). Ezekiel demonstrated the siege of Jerusalem using clay tiles ( Ezekiel 4:1-3), then he laid on his left side for many days, then on his right side, to demonstrate that God will require Israel to bear its iniquities.


Verses 2-6

Prophecies Against Israel - Isaiah 1:2 to Isaiah 12:6 contains a collection of prophecies against the nation of Israel. The phrase, "for all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still," is repeated five times within this passage of Scripture ( Isaiah 5:25; Isaiah 9:12; Isaiah 9:17; Isaiah 9:21; Isaiah 10:4).

Also found within this first major section of Isaiah are three prophecies of the Messiah's birth. These prophecies reflect three characteristics of the Messiah. He will be born of a virgin as the Son of God dwelling with mankind ( Isaiah 7:14-15). He will rule over Israel in the Davidic lineage ( Isaiah 9:6-7). He will come from the seed of David and be anointed as was David ( Isaiah 11:1-5).


Verses 2-9

God's First Indictment Against Israel (Physical): The Progressive Stages of Divine Chastisement- It is interesting to compare the progression of events in Isaiah 1:2-9. The people hardened their hearts ( Isaiah 1:2) so that they could no longer discern spiritual matters in their lives ( Isaiah 1:3). As a result, their lives became very corrupt because they chose a path of sin ( Isaiah 1:4). This journey led to sickness ( Isaiah 1:5-6), then divine judgment upon their nation ( Isaiah 1:7-8) and eventually the destruction of all but a remnant of people ( Isaiah 1:9). This was all because God gave up on His chastisement, realizing it would not do any good. Thus, He says, "Why should ye be stricken any more?" ( Isaiah 1:3). We find a very similar progression of events in 1 Corinthians 11:30, which shows three levels of divine chastisement upon believers, which says "For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep." When there is sin in the life of one of God's children, He will give him time to correct himself through rebuke. If this person will not take rebuke, the Lord will judge him with difficult circumstances that weaken him so that he might see his need for a Saviour. If this does not work, the Lord will allow sickness to come upon him. If this does not work, the Lord will cause him to die before his time and He will take him to Heaven so that he does not go to Hell. We find this same progression of chastisement described here in Isaiah 1:3-9.

Isaiah 1:2 Hear, 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.

Isaiah 1:2 — "Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth: for the LORD hath spoken" - Word Study on "give ear" - Strong says the Hebrew word "give ear" ( אָזַן) (H 238) is a primitive root literally meaning, "to expand, to broaden out the ear," and figuratively meaning, "to listen." The Enhanced Strong says it is used 41times in the Old Testament, being translated in the KJV, "give ear 31, hearken 6, hear 3, perceived by the ear 1."

Comments - The Throne of God - In Isaiah 1:2 God calls heaven and earth together in order to decree judgment upon Israel. The prophet will close this collection of prophecies by saying, "Thus saith the LORD, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me? and where is the place of my rest?" ( Isaiah 66:1) Thus, we understand that God is seated upon His throne in Isaiah 1:2 and entering into a time of judgment.

A number of verses throughout the book of Isaiah will reflect the motif of a judgment hearing assembled before God's throne with heaven and earth as witnesses ( Isaiah 1:18; Isaiah 41:1; Isaiah 41:21; Isaiah 43:9-10; Isaiah 43:26; Isaiah 44:23; Isaiah 45:20-21; Isaiah 48:1; Isaiah 48:14; Isaiah 49:1; Isaiah 49:13; Isaiah 49:22; Isaiah 51:17; Isaiah 51:22).

This is not the only place where heaven and earth have been called together to witness divine judgment. In Deuteronomy Moses also called heaven and earth to be his witnesses ( Deuteronomy 4:26; Deuteronomy 30:19; Deuteronomy 31:28; Deuteronomy 32:1-2) as he declares the Word of God to the children of Israel. Thus, Moses is declaring divine judgment which only God can decree. Moses is speaking in behalf of God and decreeing divine judgment upon Israel.

Deuteronomy 4:26, "I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day, that ye shall soon utterly perish from off the land whereunto ye go over Jordan to possess it; ye shall not prolong your days upon it, but shall utterly be destroyed."

Deuteronomy 30:19, "I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live:"

Deuteronomy 31:28, "Gather unto me all the elders of your tribes, and your officers, that I may speak these words in their ears, and call heaven and earth to record against them."

Deuteronomy 32:1-2, "Give ear, O ye heavens, and I will speak; and hear, O earth, the words of my mouth. My doctrine shall drop as the rain, my speech shall distil as the dew, as the small rain upon the tender herb, and as the showers upon the grass:"

In Psalm 50, God again calls heaven and earth to witness His divine judgment upon Israel.

Psalm 50:4, "He shall call to the heavens from above, and to the earth, that he may judge his people."

Therefore, when God decrees divine judgment, He sits upon His throne in the presence of heaven and earth, who bear witness to His words as they are sent forth to become executed upon mankind. The book of Isaiah can now be understood as one great courtroom hearing before God's throne that begins in Isaiah 1:2 and concludes it the final chapter of this book.

The Testimony of Witnesses- In Isaiah 1:2 God calls heaven and earth as a witness to His prophecy against the children of Israel. The Scriptures teach that in the mouth of two or three witnesses a matter is confirmed ( Deuteronomy 17:6). Isaiah 1:2 describes for us a scene where God is passing judgment, while heaven and earth serve as two witnesses. Thus, God is judging Israel in a judicial manner similar to the way elders decreeing judgments at the gates of the ancient cities.

Deuteronomy 17:6, "At the mouth of two witnesses, or three witnesses, shall he that is worthy of death be put to death; but at the mouth of one witness he shall not be put to death."

We find similar passages in Deuteronomy where Moses calls heaven and earth to witness his charge to the children of Israel, and in the Psalm where the Lord brings indictments against His people Israel. In Psalm 50, the Lord also reproves Israel for their vain sacrifices just as He does in Isaiah 1:10-15. In this Psalm , God called heaven and earth as a witness in order to judge His people ( Psalm 50:4-6).

Deuteronomy 4:26, "I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day, that ye shall soon utterly perish from off the land whereunto ye go over Jordan to possess it; ye shall not prolong your days upon it, but shall utterly be destroyed."

Deuteronomy 30:19, "I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live:"

Deuteronomy 31:28, "Gather unto me all the elders of your tribes, and your officers, that I may speak these words in their ears, and call heaven and earth to record against them."

Psalm 50:4-6, "He shall call to the heavens from above, and to the earth, that he may judge his people. Gather my saints together unto me; those that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice. And the heavens shall declare his righteousness: for God is judge himself. Selah."

The Redemption of the Heavens and Earth Proceeds from Divine Judgment- The divine judgment upon Israel through the prophecies of Isaiah will result not only in the redemption of mankind at the end of the ages, but the last chapters of this book reveal that heaven and earth will share in this complete redemption of all creation.

Isaiah 1:2"I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me" - Comments- The word "nourish" refers to the infant stages of child rearing. The term "brought up" refers to the childhood stages of development. God orchestrated the birth of His people Israel, and He watched over them and cared for them through the centuries. The main point of this passage is that God's children (Judah) have rebelled and turned from the true and living God after having been set apart and blessed by Him. The primary indictment against Israel in this judicial hearing is the nations' rebellion against their King.

Isaiah 1:2 — Comments-

Isaiah 1:3 The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master"s crib: but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider.

Isaiah 1:3 — "The ox knoweth his owner" - Comments- In America we picture a domesticated animal as being locked up in a stall, or inside a fence to graze. We picture the farmer putting their feed into a bin, but not up as a person who is close to his domesticated animals. However, in Bible times, and today in underdeveloped, agricultural societies, the picture is very different. Animals usually have open range. Fences are not needed. This means that animals will wander from home and graze during the day. However, at night they know where to return home. For example, in Uganda, goats graze casually around the roadways. I asked a local Ugandan how the owners keep up with their goats. I was told that at night, the goats returned to their master"s home to spend the night. Many times, the animals are led around the village by a herdsman grazing during the day. They are either tied to trees with a rope at night, or put into a corral. When returning from a day of grazing, the animals always know how to return home, and the herdsman simply has to follow them and keep them together as one or two animals lead the pack. In these agricultural societies, the relationship between owner and beast goes very deep. Here is an excerpt from Yoweri K. Museveni"s book Sowing the Mustard Seed, giving an example of the close relationship between a modern-day herdsman and his cattle:

"Cows were, and still are, central to Banyankore culture. All our cows have names and the names are descriptive, according to the animal"s colour and shape of its horns, but we also name them according to characteristics- some are fast-moving and others are slow-moving. The name not only identifies the cow, but indicates the name of its mother. So we say: "the brown cow of the mother with the long horns", as the Arabs say "Said bin Said", Said son of Said. In this way we can keep track of what has happened to such and such a cow- a form of record-keeping in what has traditionally been a non-literate society.

"Our cows, with their large long horns, are remarkably gentle and even the bulls are placid. This is because of the way that we treat them. We do not regard them as existing only for commercial gain. They are like members of our families and we treat them very intimately. For instance, we have a brush called enkuyo, which we use to clean and massage the cow, a process we call okuragaza. This is done for most of the milking cows, but also for favourites amongst them. It is a form of communicating with them and they enjoy it very much. A cow will follow you everywhere if you massage it with that brush. I have a great personal feeling for my cows, especially the ones whose ancestors have been in our family for a very long time. They are like cousins and sisters to me. I think if I acquired other cows they would not mean as much to me. I do not have the same feeling for the exotic breeds from Europe, but perhaps over time they will become like adopted children and we shall like them." 15]

15] Yoweri K. Museveni, Sowing the Mustard Seed (London: Macmillan Publishers Ltd, 1997), 3-4.

Thus, a cow or ox can very well know its owner, and look to him for provision. Note a similar description of a man bonding to an animal in 2 Samuel 12:3.

2 Samuel 12:3, "But the poor man had nothing, save one little ewe lamb, which he had bought and nourished up: and it grew up together with him, and with his children; it did eat of his own meat, and drank of his own cup, and lay in his bosom, and was unto him as a daughter."

"and the ass his master"s crib" - Comments- Domesticated animal know where their feed stall can be found. Each morning or evening when the master comes, out of habit they run to their feeding stall and wait for their food.

Isaiah 1:3"but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider" - Comments- The ox knows who owns him and that he has a master to obey, and the ass knows his feed trough and that this food comes from his master, but Israel did not know their God nor understand his ways. Israel did know that He gives them their life and substance to live. Today we may know a lot of technology and science, even ways of nature, but we can miss knowing God in the midst of a world full of knowledge. We can fail to understand God's ways in our life as Israel did during this time.

Israel did not know nor understand due to their rebellion against God ( Psalm 2:1-3; Psalm 2:10, Mark 4:24-25). God only rewards those who diligently seek him ( Hebrews 11:6).

Psalm 2:1-3, "Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us."

Psalm 2:10, "Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth."

Mark 4:24-25, "And he said unto them, Take heed what ye hear: with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you: and unto you that hear shall more be given. For he that hath, to him shall be given: and he that hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he hath."

Hebrews 11:6, "But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he Isaiah , and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him."

Isaiah 6:10 refers to the hardness of their hearts towards Him so that they were unable to see and understand His ways.

Isaiah 6:10, "Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed."

Jesus also quotes this passage showing us that it was fulfilled both during the time of Isaiah as well as during the time of Jesus' earthly ministry as He spoken in parables ( Mark 4:10-12). It speaks to us today.

Mark 4:10-12, "And when he was alone, they that were about him with the twelve asked of him the parable. And he said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables: That seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them."

Scripture Reference- Note a similar verse in Jeremiah 8:7.

Jeremiah 8:7, "Yea, the stork in the heaven knoweth her appointed times; and the turtle and the crane and the swallow observe the time of their coming; but my people know not the judgment of the LORD."

Isaiah 1:4 Ah 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.

Isaiah 1:5 Why should ye be stricken any more? ye will revolt more and more: the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint.

Isaiah 1:6 From 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.

Isaiah 1:5-6"Why should ye be stricken any more? ye will revolt more and more" - Comments- The children of Israel were not recognizing that they were being chastised by God because of the hardness of their hearts. There is a point in the heart of some who have resisted God's Word that even chastisement and enduring the curse does not turn the heart of a man back to God. It is at this point that sin is not purged until death ( Isaiah 22:14, Revelation 9:20-21).

Isaiah 22:14, "And it was revealed in mine ears by the LORD of hosts, Surely this iniquity shall not be purged from you till ye die, saith the Lord GOD of hosts."

Revelation 9:20-21, "And the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood: which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk: Neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts."

Isaiah 1:5-6"the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint. From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores" - Comments- Isaiah 1:5-6 describes a people who were sick, both emotionally, spiritually and physically, in that order because this is the way sin enters the human being. The person begins to think carnally. He then accepts this way of thinking and begins to practice it, turning his heart from God, which results in even physical sickness.

The law of Moses warned Israel that plagues and sickness was a part of divine judgment ( Deuteronomy 29:22) But there is hope ( Jeremiah 30:17).

Deuteronomy 29:22, "So that the generation to come of your children that shall rise up after you, and the stranger that shall come from a far land, shall say, when they see the plagues of that land, and the sicknesses which the LORD hath laid upon it;"

Jeremiah 30:17, "For I will restore health unto thee, and I will heal thee of thy wounds, saith the LORD because they called thee an Outcast, saying, This is Zion, whom no man seeketh after."

As an application for today, note the terrible sicknesses in our land. There is a horrible disease raging through people today, even a sickness of doubt and unbelief. It is contagious, because is spread by the mouth as people speak and confess doubt to one another. The only known antidote for this disease is the word of God itself. Beware of contracting this horrible disease. It will take a man's life (to hell - Revelation 21:8, "fearful, unbelieving"). Solomon calls it a plague of a man's heart ( 1 Kings 8:38).

Revelation 21:8, "But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death."

1 Kings 8:38, "What prayer and supplication soever be made by any Prayer of Manasseh , or by all thy people Israel, which shall know every man the plague of his own heart, and spread forth his hands toward this house:"

Isaiah 1:5-6"neither mollified with ointment" - Comments- The idea of mollifying with ointment means, "to soften or sooth with oil."

Isaiah 1:7 Your 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.

Isaiah 1:7Comments- The next step in the process of falling away from God is described in Isaiah 1:7 as poverty. Here the people were not only sick and diseased, but in poverty and destruction was now before their eyes.

Isaiah 1:8 And the daughter of Zion is left as a cottage in a vineyard, as a lodge in a garden of cucumbers, as a besieged city.

Isaiah 1:8 — "And the daughter of Zion is left as a cottage in a vineyard, as a lodge in a garden of cucumbers" - Comments- In Africa a land owner will often hire someone to sit on his land in order to watch over it. These watchmen live in the simplest mud huts and shelters that a person can imagine. It is the ultimate description of poverty. The landowner finds the poorest of the land to take this job and he builds them the cheapest shelter possible.

Isaiah 1:8Comments- In essence, the Lord is telling Israel in Isaiah 1:8 that He will cause them to live in utter poverty, as a cottage in a vineyard and a lodge in a garden. This poverty will be compounded by fear and bondage, referred to in this verse as "a besieged city." The only description in the Scriptures of a worse fate is when destruction causes His people to flee into caves and hide ( Isaiah 2:20-21).

Isaiah 2:20-21, "In that day a man shall cast his idols of silver, and his idols of gold, which they made each one for himself to worship, to the moles and to the bats; To go into the clefts of the rocks, and into the tops of the ragged rocks, for fear of the LORD, and for the glory of his majesty, when he ariseth to shake terribly the earth."

Isaiah 1:9 Except 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.

Isaiah 1:9Comments- God would have destroyed the nation of Israel as He did Sodom and Gomorrah had He not bound Himself by a covenant with Abraham. His promise that through Abraham's seed all nations would be blessed ( Genesis 22:18) must be fulfilled. Thus, God"s grace continued in the nation of Israel, and this is why they were not yet destroyed.


Verses 2-31

Isaiah's First Prophecy: Predestined for Judgment and Redemption (The Lord's Indictment against Israel and Offer of Redemption) - In Isaiah 1:2-31 God declares His charges, or indictment, against Israel and invokes His judgment in light of these charges. Note that God does not require a jury as man does today in the western judicial system because He alone judges righteously. God provides three testimonies against His people ( Isaiah 1:2-9; Isaiah 1:10-20; Isaiah 1:21-23) and decrees judgment upon them once ( Isaiah 1:24-31). These three indictments describe (1) Israel's physical condition under the curse of the Law ( Isaiah 1:2-9), (2) Israel's mental condition of vain worship and prayer ( Isaiah 1:10-20), and (3) Israel's spiritual condition of harlotry against the Lord ( Isaiah 1:21-23). We can compare these charges to a human court of law in which a formal indictment must be made before judgment is past. In this passage of Scripture, the prophet Isaiah first gives an evaluation of the people and the land of Israel from a divine perspective. The Lord compares them to rebellious children who will not be corrected, and offers them a means of redemption. (We see Nehemiah also coming to Jerusalem and taking the time to evaluation the situation before deciding how to proceed.) (1) Indictment of Israel's Physical Condition under the Curse of the Law- In the first indictment ( Isaiah 1:2-9), Isaiah describes Israel's physical condition as a nation under the curse. He tells them that they are God's children ( Isaiah 1:2), but their sins have made them forget their God ( Isaiah 1:3-4); therefore, God has chastised them until it will no longer to any good ( Isaiah 1:5): their bodies are sick ( Isaiah 1:6); their land is desolate and overcome by strangers ( Isaiah 1:7-8) and near total destruction except for God's decision to leave a remnant ( Isaiah 1:9). Isaiah tries to explain that these problems are not God's blessings, but rather a description of the curse of the Law. (2) Indictment of Israel's Mental Condition of Vain Worship and Prayer- The second indictment testifies of Israel's empty and vain religious worship and prayer ( Isaiah 1:10-20). Although they still perform religious duties, God will no longer hear their prayers, for they are a people "full of blood." Within this indictment, Isaiah describes true religion before God, which gives them a remedy for their situation ( Isaiah 1:16-20). He calls them back to Him through repentance so that he will forgive their sins; but if they refuse, He will destroy them. Within this call, He will explain that their covenant with Him is not simply religious activities, but it is how we treat our neighbours from a pure heart ( Isaiah 1:16-17). The prophet tries to reason together with the children of Israel ( Isaiah 1:18). If they respond to His call for repentance, their physical conditions will turn from living under the curse, to living under His blessings ( Isaiah 1:19-20). (3) Indictment of Israel's Spiritual Condition- Isaiah delivers the Lord's third indictment against Israel by revealing the wickedness of their heart ( Isaiah 1:21-24). Thus, this call for repentance addresses Israel's spiritual, mental and physical well-being. (4) God Decrees Judgment and Restoration - The Lord then declares judgment and future restoration upon His people ( Isaiah 1:24-31). This judgment upon Israel's idolatry will ultimately bring repentance and restore true righteousness to the land. Within the context of this judicial hearing and judgment from the Lord, Israel needs an advocate, someone who is qualified to stand in behalf of Israel. Such an advocate is found in Christ Jesus, who brings Israel back from judgment and into restoration with God through His redemption. Jesus paid the penalty for Israel's indictments, freeing Israel from these indictments.

Because this prophecy is placed at the beginning of the book of Isaiah , it serves as a message that predestines Israel to judgment, reflected in Isaiah 1-39 and ultimate redemption through the atoning work of Jesus Christ, reflected in Isaiah 40-66. In light of the fact that the book of Isaiah places emphasis upon God's redemption for Israel through His Son Jesus Christ, this opening prophecy alludes to the cleansing bloodshed on Calvary and to the future judgment that Jesus Christ will inflict upon those who rebel against His future Millennial Reign from Jerusalem, where He will rule all nations with a rod of iron. Because these three indictments focus upon the person's physical, mental, and spiritual failures, the future redemption of Israel in Christ Jesus must also atone for man's spirit, soul, and body. The Messiah's redemption of Calvary will transform man's heart, renew his soul, or mind, and heal his physical body. The three-fold aspect of Jesus' redemption is reflected in Isaiah 53:5, "But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed."

Outline- Here is a proposed outline:

1. God's First Indictment Against Israel (Physical) — Isaiah 1:2-9

2. God's Second Indictment Against Israel (Mental) — Isaiah 1:10-20

a. Israel's Vain Worship — Isaiah 1:10-15

b. A Description of True Worship — Isaiah 1:16-20

1) Pureness of Heart — Isaiah 1:16-17

2) God Reasons with Israel — Isaiah 1:18

3) Physical Blessings Restored — Isaiah 1:19-20

3. God's Third Indictment Against Israel (Spiritual) — Isaiah 1:21-23

4. God Decrees Judgment and Restoration — Isaiah 1:24-31


Verses 10-20

God's Second Indictment Against Israel (Mental) - Isaiah 1:10-20 contains the second indictment that God declares against Israel. This indictment will reveals Israel's vain efforts of Temple worship and contrast it to a brief description of God's standard of right standing before Him.

Outline - Here is a proposed outline:

1. Israel's Vain Worship — Isaiah 1:10-15

2. A Description of True Worship — Isaiah 1:16-20

a) Pureness of Heart — Isaiah 1:16-17

b) God Reasons with Israel — Isaiah 1:18

c) Physical Blessings Restored — Isaiah 1:19-20

Isaiah 1:10-15 — A Description of Israel's Religious Vanity - In Isaiah 1:10-15 the prophet Isaiah describes Israel's religion vanity, where they practiced religious traditions outwardly, but their hearts were far from the Lord. The backslidden nation of Israel tried to appease God thru rituals such as animal sacrifices and official holidays. They were overwhelmed with God's chastisement and judgment through sickness and calamities. Thus, they were seeking favor from God in order to be delivered from their problems. Yet, their lifestyle and their rituals imitated those of the heathen around them. Despite their efforts for deliverance, they would not cleanse their hearts. Therefore, in the following passage God calls them to repentance, which was the only way out of their problems ( Isaiah 1:16-17).

Since the book of Isaiah is prophetic of Christ's First Coming, we can see in Isaiah 1:10-15 a description of the Palestinian Jews during the time of Jesus' earthly ministry.

Isaiah 1:10 Hear the word of the LORD, ye rulers of Sodom; give ear unto the law of our God, ye people of Gomorrah.

Isaiah 1:11 To 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.

Isaiah 1:12 When ye come to appear before me, who hath required this at your hand, to tread my courts?

Isaiah 1:13 Bring 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.

Isaiah 1:13 — "the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting" - Comments- There are a number of variations to Isaiah 1:13 b in modern English translations:

ESV, "New moon and Sabbath and the calling of convocations— I cannot endure iniquity and solemn assembly."

NCV, "I can't stand your New Moons, Sabbaths, and other feast days; I can't stand the evil you do in your holy meetings."

NIV, "New Moons, Sabbaths and convocations--I cannot bear your evil assemblies."

NLT, "As for your celebrations of the new moon and the Sabbath and your special days for fasting— they are all sinful and false. I want no more of your pious meetings."

RSV, "New moon and sabbath and the calling of assemblies— I cannot endure iniquity and solemn assembly."

Isaiah 1:14 Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth: they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear them.

Isaiah 1:15 And 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.

Isaiah 1:15 — "And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you" - Comments- That Isaiah , when they lift up their hands in prayer unto the Lord, He will hide His eyes from them.

Isaiah 1:16-20 — A Description of True Worship - In Isaiah 1:16-20 God reveals to Israel the true form of worship, which will establish a right standing before Him so that He can bless them again.

Isaiah 1:16 Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil;

Isaiah 1:17 Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow.

Isaiah 1:18 Come 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.

Isaiah 1:18Comments - Isaiah has just declared all of the sins of the nation of Israel. This declaration of judgment was made before heaven and earth ( Isaiah 1:2). Now, the Lord wants them to accept His redemption, His way of cleansing.

Isaiah 1:19 If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land:

Isaiah 1:19"If ye be willing and obedient" - Comments- In the Parable of the Two Son ( Matthew 21:28-31) one son was willing, but did not do what his father asked him to do. In contrast, one son was not willing, but he was later obedient. God wants both of these virtues in our service to Him. We show our fear and reverence for God when we are obedient, but we reveal our love for Him when we do it willingly. Thus, how much more is God moved when we serve Him out of love.

Matthew 21:28-31, "But what think ye? A certain man had two sons; and he came to the first, and said, Song of Solomon , go work to day in my vineyard. He answered and said, I will not: but afterward he repented, and went. And he came to the second, and said likewise. And he answered and said, I go, sir: and went not. Whether of them twain did the will of his father? They say unto him, The first. Jesus saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you."

Illustration- The Lord once said to me, "Obedience is the key that unlocks all doors, for in My will you will find My blessings." (November 2002)

Illustration- Kenneth Hagin tells the story of his struggle to be willing and obedient when the Lord told him to do something. He had pastored a church in Farmersville, Texas, left premature and had returned to finish what God had called him to do. Later in his ministry, there was a time when he struggled with the Lord's leading to go back to this church a third time. He spend many nights in prayer struggling with this issue, saying, "No, God. I don't want to go back there the third time, and that's a cinch." Finally, after a long struggle, he gave in and told the Lord that he was willing to go back. The Lord then spoke to him and said, "I don't want you to go back to Farmersville. I just want you to be willing to go. Song of Solomon , if you are not willing to go back to that church, then I can't use you in other areas when I want to use you." 16]

16] Kenneth Hagin, Following God's Plan For Your Life (Tulsa, Oklahoma: Faith Library Publications, c 1993, 1994), 43.

Illustration- Bob Nichols says that in his early years as a pastor, he was working hard to remodel his church. He worked long hours himself on the building and often by himself. One day he was working, but with a complaining attitude. The Lord quickened to him Isaiah 1:19, "If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land." This statement was followed by the words, "There is a reward for those who are willing and obedient." 17] This is why Paul the apostle said, "For if I do this thing willingly, I have a reward: but if against my will, a dispensation of the gospel is committed unto me." ( 1 Corinthians 9:17) God rewards those who serve Him.

17] Robert B. Nichols, "Sermon," Calvary Cathedral, International, Fort Worth, Texas.

Isaiah 1:20 But if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.


Verses 21-23

God's Third Indictment Against Israel (Spiritual) - Isaiah 1:21-23 contains God's third indictment against Israel. This indictment will focus upon their spiritual depravity, revealing how their problems have originated from a heart of idolatry and rebellion against Him.

Isaiah 1:21 How is the faithful city become an harlot! it was full of judgment; righteousness lodged in it; but now murderers.

Isaiah 1:21Comments - Isaiah 1:21 reveals that a city and even a nation can progress through periods of righteousness and moral decay. History has shown that moral decline is the propensity for all nations.

Isaiah 1:22 Thy silver is become dross, thy wine mixed with water:

Isaiah 1:22Comments- Isaiah 1:22 describes a condition of impurity using the examples of silver and wine. These two items were abundant during the time of Israel's prosperity, but became less and less in proportion to Israel's poverty. Israel's poverty was directly in proportion to its sins. When silver looses it purity, it loses it beauty, but the dross that is skimmed off of purified silver is worthless, and fit to be thrown away. When wine is diluted with water, it loses its taste, and is thrown out. We find a similar event in Israel's history when King Rehoboam made brass shields to replace the shields of gold ( 1 Kings 14:26-27).

1 Kings 14:26-27, "And he took away the treasures of the house of the LORD, and the treasures of the king"s house; he even took away all: and he took away all the shields of gold which Solomon had made. And King Rehoboam made in their stead brasen shields, and committed them unto the hands of the chief of the guard, which kept the door of the king"s house."

Isaiah 1:23 Thy 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.

Isaiah 1:23Comments- We can measure a nation of righteousness by how the people treat one another. Such people respect one another and conduct their business with godly ethics, but the further a nation drifts from the Lord, the more corruption and thief and bribery become rooted in a society, until it becomes a place of where the weak and defenseless despair of life, a place where no one responds to a need without a bribe, where bands of thugs rob the innocent and no one is able to judge such sins. Isaiah 1:23 describes a people who have fallen to the lowest form of human depravity, where God's only recourse is divine destruction.


Verses 24-31

God Decrees Judgment and Restoration - Isaiah 1:24-31 contains God's decrees towards Israel after having brought them before His judgment seat, a seat that expands across heaven and earth ( Isaiah 1:1). His decree is based upon his three-told indictment against them. In other words, God has found three testimonies (physical, mental, and spiritual) that declare Israel guilty of sin. The necessary response is divine judgment. However, God's form of divine judgment accomplishes its intended purpose of divine restoration of the nation of Israel.

Isaiah 1:24 Therefore 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:

Isaiah 1:25 And I will turn my hand upon thee, and purely purge away thy dross, and take away all thy tin:

Isaiah 1:26 And 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.

Isaiah 1:26Comments- Isaiah 1:26 is a prophecy of Jerusalem during the Millennial Reign of Christ at His Second Coming, when Jesus will rule and reign from this holy city. This verse also refers to the time when heavenly Jerusalem will descend out of Heaven and God will make a new heavens and a new earth where all things will be restored and righteousness dwells. Thus, we see the prophet looking down a long tunnel of time without making a clear distinction between several distinct events. This is often done in Old Testament prophecy.

Isaiah 1:29 For they shall be ashamed of the oaks which ye have desired, and ye shall be confounded for the gardens that ye have chosen.

Isaiah 1:29Comments- Isaiah 1:29 describes sites of pagan worship. These people worshiped idols in "sacred" groves and in gardens where idols were placed.

Isaiah 1:31 And 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.

Isaiah 1:31Word Study on "tow" - Webster defines a "tow" as, "A rope by which anything is towed; a towline, or towrope."

 


Copyright Statement
These files are copyrighted by the author, Gary Everett. Used by Permission.
No distribution beyond personal use without permission.

Bibliography Information
Everett, Gary H. "Commentary on Isaiah 1:4". Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ghe/isaiah-1.html. 2013.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, June 18th, 2019
the Week of Proper 6 / Ordinary 11
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