-Isaiah is the first of the major prophetical books in the Old Testament Scriptures covering the period of time in Isaiah’s ministry from approximately 740 B.C. to 681 B.C. when tradition says that he was executed under the reign of Manasseh, king of Judah. Isaiah is the son of Amoz and more than likely raised in an aristocratic home. However, he was called to prophesy the LORD’s judgment upon a sinful people, which takes up the first 39 chapters or so in the text. This made him in many ways unpopular and rejected by the establishment in Judah. But he remained faithful to the call and commands of the LORD. The later half of the book is far more encouraging as Messianic prophecies give hope and comfort to the audience who would hear the redeeming message. Isaiah was a special representative of God during many kings’ reigns, and he has a special place in the biblical chronology of the salvation message. Think through the themes of return, repentance, renewal, redemption, and rejoicing as you study this wonderful material that has inspired so many of the righteous through millennia and millennia. Isaiah lives in the time of the Assyrian invasion that took captive the northern kingdom of Israel. Isaiah spends most of his days in the Holy City of Jerusalem where he gets most of his revelation from the LORD.
-In chapter one the prophet begins with the fact that Judah and Jerusalem have revolted against the LORD their God. They are described as a sinful nation, weighed down with iniquity, the offspring of evildoers, sons who act corruptly abandoning, despising, and turning away from the LORD (Isaiah 1:1-4). Their rebellion is described as making them sick in the head and heart, from the foot all the way up to their top with nothing sound in this body. “Only bruises, welts, and raw wounds, not pressed out or bandaged, nor softened with oil (Isaiah 1:5-6).” Judah is portrayed as a desolate land with cities burned with fire and strangers devouring much like Sodom and Gomarrah (Isaiah 1:7-9). The prophet wants them to hear the Word of the LORD and receive His instruction. Their sacrifices and festivals have been multiplied but are detestable in the sight of God because there is no heart for their true King. They only give a façade of worship. Their hearts are not right. Therefore, the in His wisdom will not listen to their prayers. His eyes are hidden from them because their hands are covered with blood (they are guilty, Isaiah 1:10-15).
-Key verses sixteen and seventeen. “Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from My sight. Cease to do evil. Learn to do good; seek justice, reprove the ruthless, defend the orphan, plead for the widow.” God tells them to reason together (unity) for the purpose of cleansing from sin and depravity. If they will consent and obey, they will be revived and eat the best of the land. In other words, healing is promised. But, if they refuse and rebel, the sword will indeed devour them truly by the words of the LORD (Isaiah 1:18-20). A city, Jerusalem, who was once faithful and righteous, has turned as a harlot. Rulers who are rebels, companions of thieves, lovers of bribes, chasers of rewards, neglectors of orphans and widows are listed as the culprits in this travesty of a situation, which the prophet of God must address (Isaiah 1:21-23). God promises to fight for His cause in this situation. He will turn His hand against His foes and purge the evil of the land, even if it is within His own countrymen. He guarantees restoration of the judges and counselors as it was in the beginning of the nation’s heritage. He will make this city be called “the city of righteousness, a faithful city” once again. Zion will be redeemed with justice, and her repentant ones with righteousness. On the other side of the coin, transgressors and sinners will be crushed all together, and those who forsake the LORD their God will come to a complete end. Like an oak whose leaf fades away, they will gone with none to help them (Isaiah 1:24-31). *Application* The distinction between the righteous and the unrighteous should be so clear to us from this passage. Obey the LORD, be humbled by His grace and mercy to redeem and restore, and be blessed. His desire is to help you too. Don’t be rebellious against what God is trying to do to improve in your life. Get rid of the sin and corruption that holds you back from his favor. Care for people all around you and have regard for them. This is a delight in the LORD’s eyes, not your superficial church attendance and giving. Be transformed by the renewing of your heart and mind (Romans 12:1-2).
Verses to Memorize: Isaiah 1:16-17