Thursday, February 27, 2014

CCXXXIX - Isaiah 2-6

I hope to cover chapters 2-6 in this post.  The pace will be brisk, but I shall try to stay on topic.

Chapter 2:1-5 deals with hope for a new Jerusalem in the future.  Isaiah jumps into the very distant future in these five verses, as he speaks of an everlasting peace among nations as all nations will become God fearing and obedient to God’s Laws.  Only through Jesus could this happen.  There are familiar phrases in verse 4, “they will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks”.
In verses 6-9 Isaiah shifts abruptly back to the current condition of Judah, and he is speaking to God.  He goes on to describe the people as turning to pagan practices and bordering worshiping money also.  They are so busy making new idols to worship, they don’t take the time to assess their situation.  In verse 9 Isaiah urges God “do not forgive them”.
The remaining verses in chapter 2 refer to the day that God will personally visit Judah.  But instead of referring to this “Day of the Lord” as being a glorious one, Isaiah warns that this will be a dreadful day when God exacts justice on His disobedient people.  The words he uses are harsh because he wants to be certain that they understand the disastrous road they are traveling.

Chapter 3 – A Vivid Description of Jerusalem

As you read this chapter you will see Isaiah describe utter chaos in Jerusalem.  Note how he describes how leaders will be selected in verses 6-7.  Note in verse 9 that they parade their sins in front of everybody.  {This suggests that they are proud of their rebellious acts against God.  Sound familiar?  It’s alarming when people try to out-do each other in sinful atrocities.  The winner is always the one who is willing to stoop the lowest.  Let’s be careful not to get caught up in this.}  It goes on to address the women who are preoccupied with out-doing one another with self-adornment and an outward show of riches.  Isaiah is giving fair warning against this attitude in this chapter.  He goes so far as to detail some of the practices and the punishment that will come, in hopes that the people will repent and turn back to God and His commandments.  Isaiah is using the strongest language he can.  As we read this book, we see that he continually searches for words that will penetrate the hearts of God’s people, which should reveal his level of frustration as well.

Chapter 4 is relatively short but vivid.  Here he refers to the “Branch” of the Lord, and its beauty and splendor.  But his main theme in this chapter is concerning the few left in Jerusalem that have chosen to lead a righteous and Godly life.  They will not only be spared from God’s punished, but they will be glorified.  {Isaiah is especially concerned with the women in Judah, as his references to them are scathing, to suggest that their behavior has become disgraceful.}
In the first seven verses of chapter 5 Isaiah uses the parable of a vineyard to describe the city of Jerusalem.  It is very simple to follow and is very appropriate as he says that the vineyard is producing nothing but bad fruit, and God has wasted His time in caring for it with such a labor of love.
Chapter 5:8-30 – Judgment is Pronounced
Isaiah gets a little more detailed as he writes about the behavior of God’s people.  Early in this chapter he speaks of those who greedily gobble up land, so much more than they need, leaving others to suffer without.  He rails against those who drink heavily and actually have contests with drinking.  But he mentions in verse 16 that God will invoke justice when he visits.  You will find an appropriate warning in verse 20 where he is describing everything as being backwards.  {You have heard me mention this phrase on occasions past, suggesting that our standards are turned around.  This verse describes it to a tee.}  Isaiah goes on to warn them that they will be brought down by military invasion from a foreign nation, describing some of the horrors of war that should open some eyes.

Chapter 6  -  Isaiah’s Commission

It is at this point that Isaiah chooses to share his experience and his calling from God.  The setting for Isaiah’s call was a worship service in the Temple in Jerusalem.  God revealed Himself to Isaiah, which places this prophet in very special company.  He points out the exact time of this event as being the final year of King Uzziah’s reign.  He does his best to describe the glory of the Lord in the Temple, going on to describe the seraphim which were placed in the Holy of Holies.  He describes how one of the seraphim pronounces the cleansing of Isaiah by touching his mouth with the hot coal.  The seraphim had come alive, worshiping God singing of His holiness and greatness.  They sang “Holy Holy Holy”.  {The word “holy” means “separate”.  The significance of singing the word three times means complete in its separateness.  Not only is God separate from humans, but He is separate from everything on earth, in the heavens, and in the universe.  This hymn of praise was being used as a reminder of God’s power and position.}  In verse 4 he tells of the foundation of the Temple shaking as it can barely contain the glory of God Himself.  It is in verse 5 that shows how frightened Isaiah had become, as he actually pronounces his own condemnation.  This is when the seraphim in verses 6 and 7 cleanses Isaiah of his sins.  {This was necessary before God could commission Isaiah.  The same principle applies today, that we cannot be called by God until we have been cleansed and our sins have been atoned for.  Jesus took care of that for you and me, and all others that will accept this indescribable gift.}  In this act and pronouncement, Isaiah had received pardon, making him presentable to God.  This was a necessary step in the commission process.  Then in verse 8 Isaiah heard God say “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?”  It was then that Isaiah answered the call, as he responded “Here am I; send me”.  Then God commissions Isaiah.  It is short and simple.  Go.  Tell.  {Sound familiar?}  As you read verses 9 and 10, you must realize that this not to be understood as an intended result, but rather an inevitable one, God knowing ahead of time how Isaiah’s words will be received.  The chapter ends with Isaiah asking “how long” and God’s answer being less than encouraging.  Note that Isaiah was not responsible for how his message was received, but was responsible only for delivering it accurately and completely.

Next post – Chapters 7-12

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