ISAIAH 1:1 – 3:26 and 2 TIMOTHY 4:9–22
The name Isaiah means Jehovah is salvation. His primary ministry was to the southern kingdom of Israel (Judah). The kings who reigned during the years of his ministry were Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah. The northern kingdom had been sieged by the Assyrians who were now knocking at the door of Judah. Interestingly, the Book of Isaiah serves as a mini Bible. Like the Bible, the Book of Isaiah has 66 chapters. Like the Bible it is divided into two primary sections (Old and New Testament). Like the Bible there are 39 chapters that pertain to the Old Testament which can be compared to the 39 Books of the Old Testament. Like the Bible there are 27 chapters that pertain to the New Testament which can be compared to the 27 books of the New Testament.
The first 35 chapters are considered to be Prophetic chapters. They primarily address the sins of Israel with an application being able to be made to the church. We see in this section a prophetic portrayal of Christ as well as a prophetic picture of what will take place in the last days. As we proceed through the chapters of Isaiah we will see applications that can be made to Israel in their lead-up to Babylon. There will also be applications that can be made to the last days as well. We need to note that Isaiah prophesied to Judah prior to their going into Babylonian captivity. In these last days we see Babylon being very much at the forefront of events. The origins of Babel that are seen in Genesis through Nimrod will have their latter day counterpart. This is one of the beautiful benefits of studying this book; it is the duality of application.
The Book begins with the Lord’s indictment against His people. The Lord speaks that they have turned their back on him (vs 4) and they have become like a harlot (vs 21). At the same time He makes clear that he is willing to heal and cleanse them of their sin (vs 25-26). He then speaks of the redeeming of Zion by judgement (vs 27).
In verse 3 the Lord laments the fact that Israel has forgotten who birthed them; they go forth from idol to idol seeking some sort of identity to satisfy their lust. In verse 4 they have become so filled with sin that they have developed insensitivity to the things of God. They have lost their sense of right and wrong. In verses 7-9 we see the ravages of destruction that the Assyrians have brought to the northern 10 tribes as well as large portions of Jerusalem. The time will come when Judah will be reduced to almost nothing in the midst of the Assyrian might. In verse 10 the Lord sounds out a warning that could just as well be trumpeted today. The rulers of Sodom speak of the sin of homosexuality that is in the land. The only remedy is the upholding of God’s law. In fact, it is the forsaking of God’s law that brought Israel and Judah to this point in the first place. We will see that Isaiah has some profound insights with regard to the Law throughout this Book.
One of the problems with Judah was that they tried substituting their sin and transgressions by making meaningless sacrifices unto God. It is no different today. I grew up in a church that majored on fulfilling obligations as a means of covering for sin. As long as I made confession and went to church all would be well, at least that was my thinking. In verses 16-20 we see the Lord pleading with his people to turn back unto Him and to do good. It begins with obedience to the Word of God (vs 16). The Apostle Peter says that our souls can be purified through the obedience to God’s Word (1 Pet 1:22). Isaiah then exhorts the people to do well and seek righteous judgement. This is in addition to looking after the fatherless and widows. The summation of God’s ability to forgive and cleanse is seen in verse 18. This is the heart of God; in spite of all their sin and transgression He still seeks to restore and make whole. We also see the humility of God as he seeks to speak to us on par or at His level. We need to be able to grasp verse 19 because there is a part that we have in this process. We have to choose to be willing and choose to obedient. A passive, going through the motions kind of Christianity will not be acceptable in the challenging days before us. The consequences of disobedience are seen in verse 20 concerning those who refuse to hear and or obey what God is saying. The state of Jerusalem as seen through the eyes of the Lord is one that is filled with adulterers. This is oftentimes the product of a society that has been given over to idolatry. This is why the scene in today’s America is so concerning. What is seen here in Israel is very much what is seen in the countries of the earth today, particularly America. In fact, one wonders if attributes of Babylon the great has some actual meaning for America. America, like no other nation in history has seen great light but what has she done with such light and power? The sobering reality of this chapter like so many others is that we get a picture of what is coming soon to America. Sad to say it is not a pretty sight.
Isaiah saw the things that were going to come to pass. This was the basis of his prophecies. It is characteristic of how many of the prophet’s function. In verse 2 we have a summation of the vision of Zion. The mountain that is referred to is the mountain of Zion. It is exalted above the other hills. Why is this so? It is the place where the Lord chooses to allow His presence to inhabit (Psa 132:13). It is a habitation that requires a price to be paid as seen in the qualifications from Psa 15 and 24. It is a habitation that will see all nations flowing into. There will be a desire upon the hearts of the people that will attract them to this mountain. What is that desire and attraction? There is a desire to be taught, a desire to know His ways and a desire to know the paths of the Lord. How is this realized? Does this sound like the experience that Moses had upon Mt. Sinai when he wanted to know the ways and the glory of God (Exo 33:13, 18)? This was a desire that God honoured as he allowed His presence to pass before Moses which changed him and prepared him for his ministry once he came down from the mountain.
Let’s consider the sequence of outflow that comes forth from verse 3. The ways and the paths of the Lord are taught upon the top of the mountain. Their we see the law exalted and highlighted in Zion. When David established the tabernacle upon Mt. Zion it contained only the Ark of the Covenant which speaks of the presence of God. In the Ark were the 2 tables of stone (The Law). The law is neither dead nor irrelevant as many would say today. Out of Zion goes forth the Law, then the Word of the Lord from Jerusalem. Once again, we see a picture of what the New Covenant typifies (The Law of God written upon the fleshly table of the heart). This is a futuristic verse pointing toward the last days into the millennium. In verse 4 we see a reference to the time of the 2nd coming when the Lord will judge the nations.
The exhortation to walk in the light is given in verse 5. We can parallel 1 John 1:7 where it speaks of walking in the light as He is in the light. It is a choice, it represents an opportunity where we can be changed and transformed by the grace of God as we acknowledge truth. In verses 6-9 we get a picture of a few of the sins that Israel were guilty of. There was fortune telling, learning the hedonistic ways of other nations, the love of money and idolatry. These sins were constantly brought to the attention of Israel through many prophets but their hearts were never wholly turned away from them. There would only be one remedy for such disobedience and it would be a forthcoming captivity. In verses 10-12 the angry face of the Lord will move in judgement against the haughtiness of man. Isaiah is describing the soon coming judgement that would come upon Judah but his descriptions are more suited towards the last days. The men of the earth will seek to hide from the face of God in that day but shall find no escape.
In verses 17-19 the same truth is reinforced as seen in verses 10-12. It appears that the Lord is trying to make the point that this is going to be a reality and we should give heed to its warning. Can you imagine a time when the cry of man will be for the mountains to fall upon them due to the fierce countenance of the Lord (Rev 6:16-17)? The closing verses 20-22 again repeat the same truth. The idols of silver and gold which represent the things people live for today will be cast aside to the rats as people come to know the reality of life and judgement. In a moment everything can change. Do you sense something taking place in the Spirit today? Do you sense a changing of a season? Let us be prepared and vigilant for that which is to come. It will be a season of great glory and of great judgement. Which will it be for us? Let us seek to go up to the mountain of the Lord, to learn of His ways and walk in His paths.
In verses 1-15 we see the consequences of wicked rulers who have power over a nation. The Lord will often allow a leader to be given to a nation that reflects what is in the heart of a nation. If a leader is wicked and ungodly in their leadership, it can only be due to the people as a whole being back-slidden and wicked themselves. One of the immediate judgments that comes upon a land is famine and lack of water. There will also be a famine of upright leadership. The prophet Amos warns of a famine of the hearing of the Word of the Lord (Amos 8:11). In verse 2-3 we see a famine or removal of the skilled workers and people of reputation from the land as part of the judgment. This happened at the fall of Judah to Babylon (2 Kings 24:14).
In verses 4-5 we see the resultant lawlessness characterized by a disregarding of respect and honor to the elderly. A clear cut sign of trouble is when you see a breakdown in the respect for authority. This is reinforced through music and entertainment that allows for expression of rebellion that slowly pulsates through a culture. The children or younger ones then become the oppressors. The treasure of experience is thrown out the window in lieu of a theoretical better way of doing things. I am not against change or advancements in technology but there is a by-pass, short cutting mentality that has seeped into our culture that undermines fundamental principles of hard work and ethics. The sad part is that this is the reality in many churches by way of much of today’s doctrine.
What happens as a result of this? The so called people of God were not ashamed of their wickedness; they had lost sensitivity to the things of God or we can say that there was no Fear of the Lord. This was Israel, the people of God who were given the responsibility of being an example to the people (Eze 5:5). What a reproach and dishonour they were bringing to the Living God. It is in the midst of such perversion where God continues to speak peace to the righteous, that they will be preserved in the midst of judgement. At the same time there will be severe consequences to the wicked. In reading verses 9-11 we see strong parallels to our day. People are no longer shamed concerning sin; it is openly flaunted and celebrated.
In verse 12 we see that it would be “boy kings who would rule over them while at the same time being oppressed by the queen mothers who helped to nurture them. The exception would be Josiah who was a “boy-king” of righteousness. He restored the honor of God’s law and His ways resulting in a great revival just prior to their exile to Babylon. The women become oppressors when they function outside God’s divine order. This results from men who are not honourable in their respective role. The oppressing women are products of men who shunned their godly roles and responsibilities. History is clearly being rewritten all over again (vs 12).
In verses 13-15 we see the Lord pleading on behalf of the poor of the land who have been victimized by unrighteous rule. There comes a time when God moves against these wicked rulers for the sake of the poor. Many of these young kings did not last beyond their late 30’s, some being removed while they were yet teenagers.
In verses 16-23 we see an indictment against the daughters of Zion who were carnal and vain in contrast to their calling of being polished corner stones in the courts of the Lord (Psa 144:12). The primary problem is that there is the outward pursuit of beauty as opposed to the inward work of grace. The admonition of Peter needs to be taken to heart in countering this malady.
1Pe 3:3 Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel;
1Pe 3:4 But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.
This is what God is after; it’s a picture of the Shulamite whom we observed in the Song of Solomon. The cosmetic industry is a thriving multi-billion business empire. It focuses on the outward; that which is visible and seen. The cosmetic covering over the church is thriving as well. It is the inward work that God is looking after. It is a hidden work that is void of glamour and oftentimes filled with pain. The treasure and beauty that comes forth is that which draws the attention of the Lord and it an eternal work for His glory. What is the covering that characterizes our lives? Is it Adam’s superficial covering of the fig leaves or God’s figurative covering of Christ via animal skins (Gen 3:7, 21)?
2 TIMOTHY 4:9–22 – Read day 274 commentary