Isaiah chapter one begins with what Isaiah calls a “vision.” What we soon learn is that this vision was not seen with the eyes. The LORD revealed His message to Judah through the prophet Isaiah in words. In 1:20 Isaiah says, “The mouth of the LORD has spoken” and then, interestingly enough, in 2:1 he says, “The word that Isaiah the son of Amoz saw…” These things that he saw were words for the people to hear and read. The message was primarily for the rulers, priests, and prophets in Jerusalem, yet it extends to all the people of Israel, both northern and southern kingdoms. All of chapter one is an indictment of the covenant people. Isaiah calls upon heaven and earth to listen in as witnesses to the trial and the LORD God Himself is the plaintiff who brings charge against Israel.
Point 1: Verses 1-15
A. In this first section of verses, God condemns the people for rebellion, disobedience, and false worship. They had forsaken the LORD. They actually despised Him.
B. The LORD calls them a “sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a brood of evildoers.”
C. You see, the Israelites were ashamed of their Yahweism because it called on them to be holy. The torah (instruction) of Yahweh called on them to be different from the surrounding nations by worshipping Him alone, participating in orderly worship, and being sexually moral. This was not popular among many in Israel throughout their history. They saw the neighboring countries participating in idol worship and liked what they saw. In worshipping the foreign gods they could party in drunkenness and sexual immorality and still be consider religious/spiritual.
D. The immorality and outright rebellion against God was so bad that if it wasn’t for the LORD they would have become like Sodom and Gomorrah. What an accusation!
E. Because of Israel’s sinful lusts they blended worship of Yahweh with the world. They were, in fact, not holy as God is holy. They were not a light to the nations. They conformed to the world and were not transformed by the renewing of their minds. In this false worship, which has survived even until today, Judah made one major mistake: they thought that they could live however they pleased and then make up with God during worship through rituals. This was/is blasphemy against Almighty God. There is nothing more grotesque in His eyes. God says, “I cannot endure iniquity and the sacred meeting.” It is because of this that God’s wrath is poured out on the people. He says, “When you spread out your hands, I will hide My eyes from you; even though you make many prayers, I will not hear.”
Connective: This background brings us to our main text to consider for today.
READ Scripture- This is the Word of God
Point 2: Repent v16
A. Repentance must proceed cleansing/forgiveness. We must acknowledge our sin.
B. For what did Israel need to acknowledge and repent? *INJUSTICE*
1. The LORD reckons injustice to be as sickening and as blasphemous as idolatry.
Furthermore, the LORD uses the same language for both: He pictures it as prostitution. In v21 the LORD says, “How the faithful city has become a harlot! It was full of justice; righteousness lodged in it, but now murderers…They do not defend the fatherless, nor does the cause of the widow come before them.
2. Throughout the prophets we find this same indictment on Israel.
SEE Isa 10:1-2; Amos 4:1-2; Micah 3:9-10, 12
C. The transition from v16 to v17 is simple and it is the definition of repentance:
“…Cease to do evil, Learn to do good…”
Point 3: Learn to Do Good v17
A. How do you wash yourself and make yourself clean?
1. It is not enough to quit what you are doing (cease to do evil), that is a start
2. Learn to do good
B. What is the good we must learn to do?
1. Seek Justice
2. Rebuke the Oppressor (correct oppression)
Two Examples: a) defend the fatherless b) plead for the widow
These two are constantly used in Scripture to represent the defenseless
Who else? Orphans, widows, innocent divorcees, unborn babies, minorities, immigrants, disabled, shut-ins
C. Where does injustice exist in today’s world? *All over the globe! Even in our own community
D. There is a principle in the Bible that requires us to include, not exclude others. Actually, if we are fearful of Almighty God, then it forces us to include all people. This principle is that we were all created in the image of God. We must realize that the Lamb who was slain, the Lord Jesus Christ, has redeemed us to God by His “blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation…” (Rev 5:9). We are all in His image, created by the work of His hands. He loves the whole world the same.
E. Fairness can change people, communities, and nations…
*Many of us know what it is to be underprivileged, whether as children or as adults.
Some of us know what it is like to be deprived, abused, neglected…
A few of you have told me very personal stories to this effect…
**It is the Christian’s HIGHEST DUTY to step in and seek justice for those who can not defend themselves.
F. Texts to Ponder: Hos 6:6; Prov 21:3; Mic 6:8
Point 4: Let Us Reason Together v18
A. Here are your options to consider…
*Repent and be cleansed. What the people have been instructed to do, God does.
Here is the Gospel in the Old Testament. Turn and be forgiven!
B. “Scarlet” recalls the last phrase of v15 “Your hands are full of blood.”
*God can change the unchangeable. He can undo what we have done.
Conclusion: Here are some instructions for justice found in the Law-
Dt 24:17 “You shall not pervert justice due the stranger or the fatherless, nor take a widow’s garment as a pledge.”
Dt 24:19-21 “When you reap your harvest in your field, and forget a sheaf in the field, you shall not go back to get it; it shall be for the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands. When you beat your olive trees, you shall not go over the boughs again; it shall be for the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow. When you gather the grapes of your vineyard, you shall not glean it afterward; it shall be for the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow.”
Dt 26:12-13 “When you have finished laying aside all the tithe of your increase in the third year—the year of tithing—and have given it to the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, so that they may eat within your gates and be filled, then you shall say before the LORD your God: ‘I have removed the holy tithe from my house, and also have given them to the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, according to all Your commandments which You have commanded me; I have not transgressed Your commandments, nor have I forgotten them.”
Dt 27:18-19 “‘Cursed is the one who makes the blind to wander off the road.’
“And all the people shall say, ‘Amen!’
‘Cursed is the one who perverts the justice due the stranger, the fatherless, and widow.’
“And all the people shall say, ‘Amen!’”
*We are called to be holy – unique, special, different, light and salt…
Saying, I love God is not enough. Kindness and humility is not enough.
We must seek JUSTICE for the oppressed; DEFEND the DEFENSELESS…