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Lowell Brueckner

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Judah Abandons Its God


1. An expository study of Isaiah, chapter 1, verses 2-9

Isaiah begins a declaration in the name of the Lord to Judah and to Jerusalem, but his message holds true in the entire world. How clearly and with what detail God speaks to His prophet! It is a protest against His people, but also gives counsel towards repentance. It is a call to rational thinking, with an intention of offering forgiveness, followed by blessing. The Lord speaks of Israel’s fall into corruption and they have become His enemies. From sons of God they become offspring of evildoers. In the end, they will be brought to repentance through a work of righteous judgment.

God speaks: Heaven and earth must pay attention

The Lord wants to be heard (v.2a); He wants to communicate, therefore throughout the Bible He commands His servants to write. His words sweep the heavens, fall down to earth and fill all of time. He reveals His thoughts and the feelings of His heart.

He is worthy to be heard and we ought to pay attention. He is the Lord of Lords, therefore turn your ears in Heaven’s direction. Open your Bibles and He will reveal Himself to you. He has authored it for that purpose.

In similar words, Moses, God’s man, commands the same universal attention. “Give ear, O heavens, and let me speak; and let the earth hear the words of my mouth” (Dt. 32:1-3). Everyone should hear and no one should ignore words that are coming from the throne room of the universe. Man’s ignorance is inexcusable and it will be judged, because it is voluntary. Moses’ authority is due to the theme of his message. He speaks in the name of the Lord and declares the meaning of His name, denoting His character… who He is. He is the Rock (Dt.32:4), perfect in His works, just in His ways, faithful, never guilty of injustice, He is righteous and upright.

Micah also calls the population of the earth to attention: “Listen, oh earth and all it contains” (Mi.1:2). The world’s masses should all know that the Lord is taking careful account. He sees from His seat of holiness… awesome and supreme judgment is decided there and He personally will carry it out (Mi.1:3)  

Rebellion fosters stupidity

The Lord creates life and He is the only one capable of doing so (v.2b). He produces sons and He rears them as in a family. The evil in man is seen, in that, though the Lord is a faithful Father, His sons have rebelled (v.3). They are less discerning than animals. Rebellion fosters stupidity. “Who is God, who is our Maker?” they wonder. He became Man and “the world was made through Him and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him” (Jn.1:10-11).

Oxen and donkeys do better! The animals respond upon the entrance of their owner into the barn. No stranger can possibly gain their recognition. Jesus said to the Jews of His day, “You are not of My sheep. My sheep hear My voice and I know them, and they follow Me” (Jn.10:26-27). Who are these that refuse to hear truth, war against His work, and quench every flame that begins to glow? They misunderstand His work and dealings.

Isaiah had the same message as Jesus 700 years earlier and it extends over the centuries of the Christian era. It concerns a spiritual nation with bad genes, an “offspring of evildoers, sons who act corruptly!” (v. 4a). Notice the words that describe their actions: abandon, despise, turn away (4b).

Opposition to God’s lordship, holiness and heaven

They are engaged in personal rebellion against their God. They abandon His lordship… “abandoned the Lord”, His rightful rule over their lives. Things don’t get better in the New Testament; in fact the indictment sounds even more severe. “There will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master (despot) who bought them” (2 P.2:1).

Then, they hate the Holy One, because of His holiness… “despised the Holy One of Israel”, and their unholy nature rises up against His purity. Throughout his book, the prophet reminds the people specifically of His name… The Holy One of Israel. At the end of the introduction, I gave you the many instances, in which Isaiah names Him by that name. Jesus in His high priestly prayer declares, “I have manifested Your name to the men whom You gave me” (Jn.17:6). Those who have been given Him in this era will also profit from the manifestation of the Holy One of Israel in Isaiah.

The rebels have reversed their course, departing from the God of heaven and chosen the road to hell. The means of discipline have been exhausted on these incorrigible sons. There is no spot of their being that has not been wounded already, from head to toe. The lack of repentance is seen, in that their wounds have not been treated (v.5-6). Isaiah is presenting the position of sinful Judah to them, much in the way that evangelists, whether personal or public, need to present the state of sinners today. Unless they see their state before a Holy God, they will not repent and, if they do not repent, they cannot be saved!

History… its sin and its consequences

An allegory of a beaten body, without bandages or healing oil, is given to show the spiritual state of the nation, although punishment came also in the form of a physical plague. The history of destruction surely dates as far back as the days before Joash, because of a compromise between a good king of Judah, Jehoshaphat, and evil King Ahab of Israel. The daughter of Ahab and Jezebel, Athaliah, became the wife of Jehoshaphat’s son, Jehoram (see the consequences in 2 Chr.21:14-20). Jehoram’s evil son, Jehoahaz, only reigned a year and, when he was murdered, Athaliah took over Judah. These were extremely dark days for Judah and they stand as an example for the church, as to what happens, when good people compromise, in the name of tolerance and brotherhood.

Joash did right under the influence of a priest, Jehoiada, but then gave sacred things from the Lord’s house to appease an enemy. He afterwards listened to wicked counsellors, turned to idolatry and killed a righteous priest. Apparently, the bad blood of Ahab still ran in his veins and the outward influence of Jehoiada was not enough to change his heart.

Amaziah reigned and also turned away from the Lord in later life, became proud and idolatrous, for he also did not have a “whole heart” (2 Chr.25:2) for God.  In the time of Isaiah, Uzziah reigned and excelled his father, Amaziah, in righteousness for most of the 52 years of his reign and he experienced “marvelous help” (2 Chr.26:15) and strength. However, success was not good for Uzziah, he was filled with pride and lost the fear of God. His greatest sin was to assume upon himself the priesthood. He became a leper, and lost the kingdom as a result. You might remember that King Saul lost the kingdom for the same reason (1 S.13:9,14). The two offices of priest and king was reserved only for the Son of Man.

Isaiah’s ministry begins

Isaiah’s prophetic ministry began upon the death of Uzziah (Chap.6) and continued through the good reign of Jotham. Jotham’s one fault was that he did not remove the high places, which seemed to hold cultural power over the people, so that even though a king was able to make many reforms, the populace held strongly to the traditional high places.

Afterwards, Ahaz became king and was evil, following the kings of Israel in his idolatry. Isaiah worked to bring Ahaz to faith and to ignore the worldly threats against Judah, but he was not successful. Isaiah’s knowledge of his nation’s history and what he personally observed up to the reign of Ahaz, prompts the declaration that we are studying (v.7-9). We do well to study church history, in order to warn the believers of our day, concerning past mistakes. Unfortunately those mistakes are often repeated, because Christians only see the present and don’t look to the past.

Now, Isaiah sees the daughter of Zion, a term used to describe that which has spiritual beauty (daughter) and what is the height of God’s interest (Zion), the city of David upon which Jerusalem is built. These are the remnant, the survivors, of which Isaiah speaks, but their position is insecure and cramped. When God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, there was not enough of a remnant to ward off His wrath. His people are the salt of the earth and they intercede, as Abraham did (Ge.18:22-33). They have been at work, even in modern times, in various places throughout the earth. They know the power of intercessory prayer, and understand that God alone can remedy the self-destruction dwelling in wicked society; therefore they are reduced to prayer.


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