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Lowell Brueckner

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Restoration through Judgment


We will not be writing the whole portion of Scripture in the article, so you will have to have your Bible open and follow along, as I attempt an expositional lesson.

2. An expository study of Isaiah, chapter 1, verses10-31

The Lord God never accepts heartless, ritualistic religion. Isaiah addresses first the rulers of Israel in the name of the Lord and likens them to the leaders of ancient, extinct Sodom (v.10). That is their likeness and, as those rulers, they are headed for extinction. Their people, the remnant excluded, are like the evil population of Gomorrah and God lets them know His displeasure with their sacrifices (v.11).

Numerous sacrifices, assemblies, and prayers

The Lord’s assessment of their religion must have come as quite a shock to them. After all, they have been sacrificing to Him great quantities of animals, but He tells them that they are worthless to Him. God is never impressed with quantities, but always measures by quality. In the days of Isaiah, He spoke of multiplied sacrifice, burnt offerings of rams, fat of fed cattle, bulls, lambs, goats and incense. The Lord continues to see things His way, when He judges the state of the church. Quantities of money, beautiful buildings and fancy equipment are not taken into account.

God is not speaking of worshiping other gods in high places, but of legitimate sacrifice, offered in the right places. This is typical of the kind of worship, to which Isaiah’s book refers, and for this reason, it is often quoted in the New Testament. Jesus said, “You hypocrites, rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you: This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far away from Me, but in vain do they worship Me” (Mt.15:7-9).

Isaiah went on to speak of their new moon and weekly assemblies, festivals and feasts that were an abomination and burdensome to God. He called them the hateful “trampling of His courts (v.12-14) and He was tired of them. “I cannot endure iniquity and the solemn assembly”… The solemn assembly refers to the great day of the feasts… the most holy day and here it is termed iniquity.  Do you wonder, as I do, when the Lord looks down from heaven upon His church, how He views the various activities, including the Sunday morning meeting? The congregation sits back and enjoys the display of the talents of men, rather than the demonstration of the power of God (2 Ti.3:4-5). The program is timed to the minute, to allow the congregation plenty of opportunity to eat and play the rest of the day. Can we be so sure that He gives His approval, when the way His people spend most of their time proves that they love pleasure more than they love God?

When they lift their hands in prayer, He closes His eyes and ears. “So when you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide My eyes from you; Yes, even though you multiply prayers, I will not listen” (v.15). It is rather mysterious that they should add to their prayer efforts, when they really cannot expect an answer. They are quite right in their faithlessness; He is not going to give an answer. Even the increase in prayer is unacceptable, as is the number of sacrifices and meetings, in which hands are covered with blood. Perhaps the blood guiltiness can be taken figuratively, at least in part, as referring to the unwillingness to do justice for innocent people, even in cases of homocide, when judges conveniently closed their eyes to the truth.  

Hands drenched in blood

 In English and American history, people who called themselves "Christians" were involved in slave trafficking. God accused the Israelites of offering their children to Molech, killing and burning them in the Hinnom valley outside Jerusalem. We read it and exclaim horrified, "How absolutely dreadful!" Just a minute... in the 20th and 21st Centuries, millions of mothers and father have sacrificed their children on the abortion altar and thousands of doctors and nurses, in multiple ways, have been their accomplices. Political leaders are guilty for having legalized the crime and the people who voted them into power, also have to see that their hands are drenched in blood.

When we lived near Dachau, Germany, we would take people, who were visiting us from other countries, to see the concentration camp. There they show a documentary film, depicting the horrendous acts that were performed inside those walls. Towards the end of the movie, the American liberation army enters the camp and, by orders from General Eisenhower, march the citizens of Dachau past the crematorium ovens. On each side of the ovens are rooms filled with corpses, waiting to be burned. Because of the stench, people put their handkerchiefs over their noses. The reason this order was given, was to awaken the city to the awful reality that was taking place so near to their homes. Hitler pretended that these people, who were being exterminated because of their race, were something less than human beings. Since then, history has marked Adolf Hitler a rabid dog and he was perfectly worthy of such infamy.

Nevertheless, the atrocities of Hitler cannot compare numerically to the massacre of unborn innocents of our generation. But are these fetuses actually babies? Let me remind you again of Hitler's justification for having killed millions of Jews. The traffickers of African slaves also intended to argue that black people had no souls. If you are a Christian and believe the Bible, there is no room for you to doubt that a child in the womb of his mother is a human being.  

Read how Jeremiah wrote of his calling from God before he was born: "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations" (Je.1:5). Jeremiah had prophetic DNA before he was born. David also wrote of his beginnings in his mother's womb: "For you formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother's womb... My frame was not hidden from You, when I was made in secret... Your eyes have seen my unformed substance, and in Your book were all written the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them" (Ps.139:13,15,16). Listen to the prophesy from the mouth of a heavenly being, concerning John the Baptist: "And he will be filled with the Holy Spirit while yet in his mother's womb" (Lk.1:15), and afterwards this is the testimony of his mother: "She cried out with a loud voice... when the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby leaped in my womb for joy" (Lk.1:42,44). I can also give personal testimony that I exist, because my mother, endangering her own life, refused an abortion. I believe that we ought not consider ourselves superior to the Jews in Isaiah's day, who had their hands stained with blood. 

The way out

Having diagnosed their condition, the Lord points the way out of their spiritual dilemma (v.16-17). This is always a characteristic in God’s dealing with people. The devil will leave his victims wounded, wallowing in their own blood, without any care for their welfare or future. The Holy Spirit, when He brings conviction of sin, will show the sinner or fallen saint, the light at the end of the tunnel, dark though that tunnel may be. There is a remedy and a place to wash away the impurities.
There is a fountain filled with blood drawn from Emmanuel’s veins.
And sinners plunged beneath that flood, lose all their guilty stains.”

The Lord calls His people, who are willing to face truth and listen to the Word of God, to the court of reasonable justice… “‘Come now and let us reason together,’ says the Lord” (v.18). Cleansing and newness of life always comes by the application of the Word. Peter said, “You have been born again, not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God(1 P.1:23). God is bringing things to a definite and positive conclusion, but the individual must be willing to awaken to his state.

There is transformation and a cleansing wave available in order to be accepted in the eyes of the Lord. Old Testament and New, the way to God’s salvation is more than forgiveness. There must be cleansing and a new nature, through repentance and grace. “Cease to do evil, learn to do good” (v.16). Those stained with scarlet sins like crimson are made white as snow and wool.

The crimson worm
Crimson gel
Speaking of being red like crimson, Isaiah is not referring to a certain shade of red, but to a small worm that existed in his day. It was not a very impressive worm, but in fact, some thought it to be part of the tree to which it clung. The female chose to climb a tree, specifically one called a Kermes Oak. The worm knows that upon ascending, she will never come down again. She will do this just once. She has gone to the tree to bear offspring, but she will die in that act. She clings tenaciously to the wood and it is impossible to remove her, without tearing her to pieces. There she lays her eggs and protects them under her body. When the little worms emerge from their eggs, the female secretes a kind of bright red gel. It covers the little ones completely and permanently, and also leaves an indelible stain on the tree that never fades with time! The young eat the live body of the mother. When she dies, after three days it is possible to remove her and the gel that is left can be used as a beautiful dye. It was used, for example, in the vestment of the high priest in the Old Testament and the scarlet in the tabernacle was also colored by the secretion of this crimson worm. On the fourth day, the worm turns as white as snow. Now her body resembles wax and it can be used as shellac to preserve wood. It is also utilized in a medicine to strengthen the heart. We will mention one more thing about this amazing worm: When it is crushed, it emits a pleasant aroma. I think it is very clear, that from the very first chapter of Isaiah, he has the cross on his mind, as the only remedy for the sins of Israel, as well as ours, however terrible they may be. 
An indelible crimson stain

Jesus said, “Repent and believe the gospel” (Mk.1:15). Isaiah said, “If you consent and obey, you will eat the best of the land; but if you refuse and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword” (v.19-20a). Chose one or the other; there is no middle ground. The alternative is destruction. “Truly, the mouth of the Lord has spoken” (v.20b).

Sinners are sinners, and this is the simple message to sinners. You don’t have to divide them into categories and find a specialist for each category. The simple truth is that he has sinned before a holy God and he needs cleansing. Two ways lie before him and he must choose only one. There are two results: Eat the best of the land or be devoured by the sword.


Isaiah follows with a lesson about degeneration; a history lesson about better days. First, there is a lesson about unfaithfulness: “The faithful city has become a harlot”. She has broken her marriage vows with her heavenly Husband and has loved others. It doesn’t matter what they are, anything that turns us away from God is His enemy. James declares, “You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God?” (Jam.4:4). The second lesson is about injustice: “Righteousness once lodged in her, but now murderers” (v.21). Injustice means that there is no care for people and consequently they are maligned, slandered, robbed and injured. Injustice ultimately equals murder. To ignore the plight of the unfortunate is to hate him, and to hate him is to kill him.

The third lesson is about lowering values: “Your silver has become dross.” Standards are lowered until anything is acceptable and immorality becomes just as good as morality. There are no longer any spiritual values in people’s hearts and so anything goes. This principle or rather lack of principle rules the world today and the same cheapness has invaded the church. The fourth lesson is about watered-down godliness: “Your drink diluted with water” (v.22) The richness of wine, representing the work of the Holy Spirit, is no longer essential and people are satisfied with the possibilities of men… “holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power” (2 Ti.3:5).

Isaiah gives us a look into the political world, where rulers are companions of thieves (v.23). I think it can be said that around the world, politicians are the same. They used to be called public servants, but now they are influenced by generous campaign contributions, special interest groups and lobbyists. Government loses its purpose and becomes oppressive. Does the church follow in the same direction? I know of a pastor, who was probably the most liberal contributor to the building of his church, and since this was so, he formed the church constitution in such a way that he would have the last word in any discussion. His last act as pastor was to lock the church’s front door and the sheep were left to find pasture for themselves.

Judgment brings a healthy effect

Speaking through Isaiah, the Mighty God of Israel declares Himself the God of vengeance (v.24). An old proverb says, Revenge is sweet, and Paul teaches us the correct attitude towards revenge: “Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord” (Ro.12:19). This is unpopular teaching these days for sure, but it is totally New Testament. The God of the Old Testament is the same God as in the New.

Judgment will fall against all the deeds and habits of evil in Israel (v.25) and, will you notice, that it will have a healthy effect upon its society. Righteousness will be restored. True judges will take their seats in court and advisors, who counsel those in power, will do as God meant for them to do (v.26). The city of God’s interests, Zion, will be bought back from all the harlotry, injustice and unrighteousness into which it has sold itself (v.27). Those brought by judgment to repentance will take charge of affairs. The opposition, who have resisted this movement of God, will be crushed. The trend of degeneration will halt and restoration will result (v.28).

Notice, now, the attitude of the repentant and see through it what it means to be truly repentant. “Surely you will be ashamed… you will be embarrassed… (v.29). Blessed is the shame that results from eyes that have been opened to see things as they should be. The blindness of deception will yield to the light of truth and people will see that what they considered so wonderful, was really counterfeit (v.30-31). They will be ashamed of it. What seemed green and full of life, will be revealed as dry without water. He who seemed to be strong and indestructible, will become combustible. This is what God will do for His people for their own good. If there was ever a time in the church, when blind eyes must be opened and the deception of success and growth be clearly seen, it is in these days. May God cause truth to triumph in our day!


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