Saturday, January 5, 2013

“God’s warning……. a cry of anguish…”

Why should you be stricken and punished any more [since it brings no correction]? You will revolt more and more. The whole head is sick, and the whole heart is faint (feeble, sick, and nauseated).

From the sole of the foot even to the head there is no soundness or health in [the nation’s body]—but wounds and bruises and fresh and bleeding stripes; they have not been pressed out and closed up or bound up or softened with oil. [No one has troubled to seek a remedy.]

 [Because of your detestable disobedience] your country lies desolate, your cities are burned with fire; your land—strangers devour it in your very presence, and it is desolate, as overthrown by aliens.

 And the Daughter of Zion [Jerusalem] is left like a [deserted] booth in a vineyard, like a lodge in a garden of cucumbers, like a besieged city [spared, but in the midst of desolation].

 Except the Lord of hosts had left us a very small remnant [of survivors], we should have been like Sodom, and we should have been like Gomorrah.           Isaiah 1: 5-9 Amp.


“Why should you be beaten anymore?”  (Isa. 1:5–9).   Isaiah’s prophecies are not arranged in chronological sequence.  These verses suggest chapter 1 should be placed after Assyria had deported Israel. In that invasion many thousands of citizens of Judah were also taken into captivity.

God’s warning here is best understood as a cry of anguish.  It hurts the Lord to discipline His people.

Why, will we not respond, and free Him from the painful necessity of punishment?
“What are they to Me?”  (Isa. 1:10–17).  There is no indication here that the people of Judah violated any ritual regulation. Their fault, a fault which kept God from listening to their prayers, was moral.  No one who sins against his fellowman can be confident of a hearing with God.

“Though your sins are like scarlet” (Isa. 1:18–20).  God chose scarlet for a simple reason. This bright red color was the most “fast” color known.  While other colors might be bleached out, scarlet could not.  How powerful the promise, then when compared to “scarlet”.  Even if our sins, like scarlet, are impossible to remove, God will do it if only we will turn to Him; “willing and obedient.”

Sometimes Christians cannot forget their sins. The past seems fixed, forever coloring their outlook.  How awesome to realize that God can erase our past and through Christ, He has purified us so that in His sight we are “white as snow.”

“Zion will be redeemed” (Isa. 1:21–31).  All things change.  The faithful city fell and became wicked. You and I may fall too. Yet God will not leave us in such a state, any more than He would leave the ancient city or its people. God said, “I will remove your impurities,” and, “You will be called the City of Righteousness.”  What a wonderful word of reassurance.  You may have failed God.  But He will not fail you.  He will “remove your impurities” and you will be known for your righteousness!

In verses 10–17 the prophet described a religious people whose ritual seems to be according to the Law. These people had religion down pat, and were absolutely “right.”  They went up to the temple for the required festivals. They offered the right sacrifices. They made long prayers. But God called all these things meaningless.

He went on through Isaiah to tell these religiously “right” people to “stop doing wrong, learn to do right!  Seek justice, encourage the oppressed.  Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow” (vv. 16–17).

The point, of course, is that what demonstrates a real and vital faith is not that we are “right,” but that our relationship with God has produced righteousness.

What God cares about most is, are we righteous?

As a personal application we should want to please God and pay more attention to doing right than to being right.

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