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.
The Wickedness of Judah
Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth;
for the LORD has spoken:
“Children have I reared and brought up,
but they have rebelled against me.
The ox knows its owner,
and the donkey its master’s crib,
but Israel does not know,
my people do not understand.”
Ah, sinful nation,
a people laden with iniquity,
offspring of evildoers,
children who deal corruptly!
They have forsaken the LORD,
they have despised the Holy One of Israel,
they are utterly estranged.
Why will you still be struck down?
Why will you continue to rebel?
The whole head is sick,
and the whole heart faint.
From the sole of the foot even to the head,
there is no soundness in it,
but bruises and sores
and raw wounds;
they are not pressed out or bound up
or softened with oil.
Your country lies desolate;
your cities are burned with fire;
in your very presence
foreigners devour your land;
it is desolate, as overthrown by foreigners.
And the daughter of Zion is left
like a booth in a vineyard,
like a lodge in a cucumber field,
like a besieged city.
If the LORD of hosts
had not left us a few survivors,
we should have been like Sodom,
and become like Gomorrah.
Hear the word of the LORD,
you rulers of Sodom!
Give ear to the teaching of our God,
you people of Gomorrah!
“What to me is the multitude of your sacrifices?
says the LORD;
I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams
and the fat of well-fed beasts;
I do not delight in the blood of bulls,
or of lambs, or of goats.
“When you come to appear before me,
who has required of you
this trampling of my courts?
Bring no more vain offerings;
incense is an abomination to me.
New moon and Sabbath and the calling of convocations—
I cannot endure iniquity and solemn assembly.
Your new moons and your appointed feasts
my soul hates;
they have become a burden to me;
I am weary of bearing them.
When you spread out your hands,
I will hide my eyes from you;
even though you make many prayers,
I will not listen;
your hands are full of blood.
Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean;
remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes;
cease to do evil,
learn to do good;
bring justice to the fatherless,
plead the widow’s cause.
“Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD:
though your sins are like scarlet,
they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red like crimson,
they shall become like wool.
If you are willing and obedient,
you shall eat the good of the land;
but if you refuse and rebel,
you shall be eaten by the sword;
for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.”
The Unfaithful City
How the faithful city
has become a whore,
she who was full of justice!
Righteousness lodged in her,
but now murderers.
Your silver has become dross,
your best wine mixed with water.
Your princes are rebels
and companions of thieves.
Everyone loves a bribe
and runs after gifts.
They do not bring justice to the fatherless,
and the widow’s cause does not come to them.
Therefore the Lord declares,
the LORD of hosts,
the Mighty One of Israel:
“Ah, I will get relief from my enemies
and avenge myself on my foes.
I will turn my hand against you
and will smelt away your dross as with lye
and remove all your alloy.
And I will restore your judges as at the first,
and your counselors as at the beginning.
Afterward you shall be called the city of righteousness,
the faithful city.”
Zion shall be redeemed by justice,
and those in her who repent, by righteousness.
But rebels and sinners shall be broken together,
and those who forsake the LORD shall be consumed.
For they shall be ashamed of the oaks
that you desired;
and you shall blush for the gardens
that you have chosen.
For you shall be like an oak
whose leaf withers,
and like a garden without water.
And the strong shall become tinder,
and his work a spark,
and both of them shall burn together,
with none to quench them.
Isaiah 1 Commentary
by Hank Workman
He is known as the greatest prophet. Raised in an aristocratic home he was married to a prophetess. When he first started off he was well-liked but soon enough as his words were bold and powerful what he had to say was hard for people to hear. He prophesied for 60 years until he would be sawn in two by King Manasseh when he could not take the bold words any longer.
The writings, thus the book of Isaiah itself, is a wonder of God’s amazing work. There are 66 chapters within his book. The first half of these, approximately 39 chapters hold scathing words against Judah, Israel, and surrounding nations. God calls the people to repent over and over again. The last half of the book holds 27 chapters. These chapters are riddled with hope and trust for God through the unveiling of His Son, the Messiah.
Why is this so fascinating and a wonder? There are exactly 39 chapters in the Old Testament. There are exactly 27 chapters in the New Testament!
Who says God is not in the details?
Chapter 1 comes out swinging. The people are in rebellion. They are purposely living life the way they want and steeped in sin. God gives a cure. I have always loved these words.
“Come now, and let us reason together,” says the Lord, “Though your sins are as scarlet they will be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, they will be like wool. 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.” Truly, the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” – Isaiah 1:18-20
The God of the universe invites His people to come, sit with Him, reason with Him. What He has to offer is so much bigger than what we could ever hope to hold on to. Many times God seems to get this image of one who is so unreasonable and so demanding. It’s quite the contrary from these verses alone. He invites us to come reason because He has the best way to live.
He knows what is best for us. His love is so unbelievably greater than we could ever imagine otherwise, why would He even mess with us in our stubbornness? And even though our self-determined ways are destructive to us, our sins have become scarlet, the deepest dye possible and unrevoked staining takes place, He’s willing to remove these and make it white as snow.
God offers complete cleansing from all our sins if we will just turn to Him. The condition of our sinfulness can be completely transformed to white and pure. Today through Jesus we have this. Look, our best efforts can’t cleanse us. Our best foot forward won’t do it. Our good works won’t bring it about. Time doesn’t change this. It is only the work of Jesus that can cleanse us and make us whole.
Consider the greatness of God, the pardon of Jesus being offered to all, is this not enough for us to come and reason with Him now? He doesn’t want the separation between us and Him any longer. He wants it gone. He longs for each of us to realize what path of destruction we are on and turn. He wants the best for us now – not tomorrow, not next year, not right before our final breath is taken. He wants to give it now.
What are you waiting on?
Isaiah 1 Commentary
by Brad Boyles
The book of Isaiah is full of prophecy. Hebrew poetry used a literary style called parallelism, much like a modern-day analogy. In the first several verses, we see the parallels being drawn.
“An ox knows its owner, And a donkey its master’s manger, But Israel does not know, My people do not understand.”Isaiah 1:3 NASB
The ox and the donkey know of their provider and owner. To set up the parallel, the next phrase contrasts the previous in order to understand it and make a point. Israel did not know or understand their provider and owner. They were worse off than a donkey or ox.
The poetry in Isaiah also uses metaphorical images to represent deep spiritual truths. It gets tricky sometimes when trying to figure out if the meaning is literal or figurative. The vivid images that are painted in Isaiah draw the reader to look deeper into the context and meaning behind the beautiful poetry.
Yet another theme that runs through Isaiah is the multiple fulfillment of prophecies. Similarly to Revelation, a prophecy may apply to the ancient timeline as well as the End Times. We cannot immediately assume all prophecies are about us (our time period) or vice versa. However, God did not leave us in the dark. We can look at the sweep of Scripture in order to make sense of multiple prophecies.
This first chapter is scathing. Although God has brought up Israel and raised her as His own, they do not recognize their Father. They have run so far away that they do not even recognize their own! However, as always, God does not leave them without hope. Those who seek justice and repentance will find mercy. It is the same today.