AMERICA’S CHOICE: REPENTANCE OR RETRIBUTION
As one reads the first chapter of the book
of Isaiah he will not find God’s people in a very promising situation. The Northern Kingdom, called, Israel, had undergone
a long succession of ungodly kings, which had led her to destruction and ruin. God had judged them for their idolatry and
alliances with pagan powers.
The Southern Kingdom, called, Judah, could not boast of having done much
better. They too had slipped in and out of idolatry, and alliances with pagan countries, such as Assyria and Egypt. It was
due to this sad state of affairs that Isaiah the prophet was called upon by God to prophesy against the sins of His people.
first chapter of Isaiah is actually a call to decision. It is somewhat reminiscent of Joshua’s challenge many years
before, when he said, “Choose you this day whom ye will serve…” (Joshua 24: 15a). It also bears a striking similarity to Elijah’s searching question
on Mt. Carmel, where he said, “How long halt ye between two opinions? If the Lord be God, follow him: but if Baal, then
follow him” (I Kings 18: 21).
Though the call to decision in Isaiah chapter one is not stated quite as concisely as the ones just mentioned, it is still
very clear to those who read carefully. God was saying to the nation of Israel, “Repentance or retribution: it’s
your choice.” God’s patience had run out. Now it was time to make a decision. Their decision would determine whether
they would suffer or soar as a nation.
I. JUDAH’S CONDITION (verses 1-9)
1. Judah Was Debased. (verses 1-3)
A. Judah had shown ingratitude for God’s care and provision.
B. Judah had shown irreverence
toward God, in spite of His kindness toward them.
1. In verse
two, one can imagine the broken heart of God as He refers to the people
of Judah as His children whom He had nurtured and loved only to have them rebel
2. God shows how
debased Judah had become by comparing them to dumb animals
(v. 3). Even the ox and donkey showed more natural respect
and obedience for
their masters than did Judah for her
2. Judah Was Defiled. (verse 4)
A. God said Judah was
“sinful” basically means to, “miss the mark”
B. God said that
Judah was “laden with iniquity.”
1. The word “iniquity” makes reference to “a perversion or twisting aside”
C. God said that
Judah was “evildoers”
1. Implies not merely those that do evil, but those “…who commit harmful,
2. The term “corrupters” speaks of those who defiled or destroyed that which was
3. Judah Was Defiant. (verse 5-6)
A. The picture here is that
of a stubborn, arrogant child, who refuses to do what is
B. The people of Judah had abandoned
(“forsaken”) God, by defiantly alienating and
separating themselves from Him. This of course had “provoked”
God to anger.
C. The first part of verse
five indicates that previous judgment had not produced a
of heart. The picture gleaned from verses five and six is that
of a vicious
D. (Prov.29: 1).
E. God is loving and
kind. But there comes a time when God’s patience with man’s
rebellion runs out.
4. Judah Was Diseased.
A. This was not
a mere surface malady. Judah’s spiritual sickness extended to its very
B. This was a longstanding problem that had not
been dealt with, and had now
the whole nation.
5. Judah Was Desolate. (verses 7-9)
A. Judah had experienced
not only devastation, but occupation and decimation as
well. Yet they would not
II. GOD’S CONTEMPT (verses 10-15)
1. God Said Their Pretense Was Vain.
A. Judah’s worship
was mere religious sham.(verses 10-12)
1.Notice that God, through the prophet Isaiah, likens Judah to Sodom and
do you bother going through the motions of sacrifices for sin, when you
don’t intend to repent?
3. I believe God is perhaps asking the same pointed question of a lot of churches
4. God said
that pretentious worship, which refuses to deal with sin, only reveals
5. The spiritual
question today is not how do you look to others, but how do you
live before others.
is nullified by sin. (verse 13)
2. God Said Their Prayers Were Valueless.
A. The Hebrew, when praying,
extends his hands with the palms upward towards
heaven, as a symbol of being clean from guilt before God. But
Notice these biblical implications concerning prayer:
1. Prayer Is To Be Perpetual: The Altar of Incense was made of acacia wood so it
would be durable
Prayer Is To Be Precious: The Altar of Incense was completely overlaid with
pure gold (Ex.30: 3-5).
Prayer Is To Be Powerful: The Altar of Incense had a horn at all four corners.
4. Prayer Is To Be Preparatory: The Altar of Incense stood right in front of the veil
that opened up into
III. JUDAH’S CURE
1. Their Sin Had To Be Forsaken.(verses
Would Result In Forgiveness.(verses 18-19)
A. No matter how serious
their sin, God could restore them to purity and innocence.
3. Rebellion Would Cause Judgment To Fall.(verse
A. Sadly, Judah did not repent.
And the judgment that God pronounced upon them
came in two phases:
1. The Assyrian invasion of 701 B.C.
2. The Chaldean invasions of 588-587 B.C.”