Scripture reading – Isaiah 1

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* You will notice this is today’s second devotion and follows this year’s Scripture Reading schedule.


Who was the Prophet Isaiah?

Isaiah lived in Judah in the 8th century B.C. His ministry spanned the reigns of four kings of Judah: Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah (1:1). Three Gentile empires are noted during Isaiah’s life (the decline of Egypt, the waning years of Assyria, and the infancy of Babylon as a nation).

In my opinion, Isaiah was the foremost of the Old Testament prophets. He was fearless and boldly confronted Judah’s sins. He called on kings to repent of their sins. He condemned priests for their corruption and hypocrisy. He warned the people of Judah that they would suffer God’s judgment should they fail to repent of their sins. Isaiah predicted Judah’s overthrow, the cities’ desolation, and the Babylonian captivity.

Who was the Prophet Isaiah?

Isaiah’s preaching was powerful, his words soaring, and his prophecies vivid and specific. He is quoted over 400 times in the New Testament, and his prophecies concerning the Messiah were fulfilled by Jesus Christ’s coming in exacting detail.

As we begin our study of Isaiah, I invite you to picture a heavenly courtroom, with God sitting on His throne and the nation of Judah, the defendant.


The Case: The Ingratitude of Judah vs. God’s Love and Grace (Isaiah 1:1-2)


Two witnesses were commanded to hear the charge against Judah: the “heavens” and the “earth” (Isaiah 1:2). The LORD charged Judah, saying, “I have nourished and brought up children [the people of Judah], and they have rebelled against me” (Isaiah 1:2).

How had the LORD nourished and brought up His people? He chose Abraham and established His Covenant with his lineage (Genesis 12). He entrusted Israel with His Law and Commandments (Exodus 20). He sent prophets who taught the people and chastened the nation when it strayed. Yet, we read, “They have rebelledagainst me” (Isaiah 1:2c), for the people rejected God’s Law.

Three Charges Against Judah (Isaiah 1:3-9)


The First Charge – Rebellious Ingratitude (Isaiah 1:3-4)

While a dumb ox knows its owner, and a donkey appreciates its master’s stall, Israel was a people that “doth not consider” (Isaiah 1:3). The sins of the nation blinded the people, and they gave no thought to the LORD’s care, love, and provision. The prophet Jeremiah observed later, “For my people [are] foolish, they have not knownme; they are sottish [foolish; silly] children, and they have none understanding: they are wise to do evil, but to do good they have no knowledge” (Jeremiah 4:22).

Judah became a sinful, wicked nation and was burdened with “iniquity” (the weight of their sin and guilt, Isaiah 1:4). They had “forsaken the LORD” (Isaiah 1:4), despised His Law and Commandments, and “provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger” (Isaiah 1:4).

The Consequences of Judah’s Sins (Isaiah 1:7-9)

The Interrogation and Infection (Isaiah 1:5-6)

The LORD questioned Judah and asked, “Why should ye be stricken [beaten; punished] anymore? ye will revolt [rebel] more and more [again and again]: the whole head [whole body] is sick [diseased], and the whole heart faint [sick; feeble].” The stench of Judah’s sins had reached heaven, and the people were infected by wickedness (Isaiah 1:6).

The Consequences of Judah’s Sins (Isaiah 1:7-9)

The nation’s sins resulted in the land being destroyed (“your country is desolate”), “cities burned with fire,” and their riches plundered by foreigners (“strangers” – Isaiah 1:7). So dreadful was God’s judgment, if He had not shown the people mercy, Judah “should have been as Sodom, and we should have been like unto Gomorrah [utterly destroyed with no soul spared]” (Isaiah 1:9).


The Second Charge – Religious Insincerity (Isaiah 1:11-20)

God charged that the people were pious hypocrites (Isaiah 1:11-12). He declared He was weary with their sacrifices and offerings (Isaiah 1:11). They trampled upon the courts of the Temple and gave no thought to His holy presence in the Temple (Isaiah 1:12). Therefore, the LORD declared:

“Bring no more vain [false; deceitful; empty] oblations [non-blood offerings – flour, fruit, oil]; incense [perfume; sweet incense] is an abomination [abhorrence; loathsome] unto me…it is iniquity [wicked; vanity], even the solemn meeting [sacred assembly for worship]” (Isaiah 1:13-14).

The prayers of the people were an abomination to the LORD. He rebuked them and said, “When ye spread forth [lay open; stretch forth; display] your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers [supplications], I will not hear [hearken; listen]: your hands are full [overflowing] of blood [i.e., shedding blood]” (Isaiah 1:15).

Despite the nation’s wickedness, the LORD extended a pardon if the people would repent of their sins (Isaiah 1:16-18). He called upon Judah and said, “Come now, and let us reason together…though your sins [faults; offences] be as scarlet [the color of blood], they shall be as white as snow [purified; without blemish]; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool [i.e., white]” (Isaiah 1:18).

Offering a conditional pardon, the LORD appealed to the people, “If ye be willing [consent] and obedient [hearken; obey], ye shall eat [consume] the good [beauty; blessings] of the land” (Isaiah 1:19). However, He warned, “if ye refuse [unwilling] and rebel [disobey; provoke], ye shall be devoured [eat up; consumed] with the sword [knife; dagger]: for the mouth [commandment; Word] of the LORD hath spoken it” (Isaiah 1:20).

Three Reprehensible Injustices (Isaiah 1:21-23)

The Third Charge – Three Reprehensible Injustices (Isaiah 1:21-23)

Understanding a nation’s leaders reflects the people’s character; I conclude today’s study by inviting you to consider three nauseous traits that were true of Judah’s leaders and are consistent with the character traits of leaders of dying nations.

First, Judah’s leaders were vile. They rejected God’s Law and were “companions of thieves” who enriched themselves by illicit gain (Isaiah 1:23).

Notice secondly that Judah’s leaders lacked integrity. They were guilty of loving gifts (accepting bribes) and shameless self-promotion (“followeth after rewards” – Isaiah 1:23; Exodus 23:8; Micah 3:11-12).

Finally, the leaders abused and exploited the weak (“the fatherless…the widow” – Isaiah 1:23d; Exodus 22:22; Deuteronomy 24:19-21).


Closing thoughts –

Please take a moment and reflect on your nation, its leaders, and government. Does the wicked character of Judah’s leaders seem familiar? Do you see the failed character traits of Judah’s leaders in positions of authority?

Tragically, the people of the world continue to elect vile politicians who lack integrity and abuse the weak and the poor. The sinful traits of a nation’s leaders reflect its citizens (Isaiah 1:24-31).

Galatians 6:7 – Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.

God is not mocked

Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith 

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